Those Parents

I want to thank you all for helping to bring me back from temporary insanity, as displayed in my post about private high schools.  I assure you, we aren’t those parents.  Our parental motto, from the beginning, has been “Smart is easy. Good is hard.”  None of my experience so far has led me to doubt that simple truth.

But it happens every year about this time.  Seeing how much money we’re paying, and how much more  it will be when they get to high school (both kids at the same time, mind you), makes you go into some heavy introspection.  Are we doing the right thing?  What are we getting out of this?  What if, after all this worry and sacrifice, one or both of them rejects everything about us and gets tattooed, pierced, and moved in with some guy named Razorhead?

Deep down, I know we can’t worry about these things.  They belong to God, He just put them in our care for a little while.  We cannot mold them into our dreams.  We must let them grow into theirs.

Also, there’s the practical aspect.  It’s my understanding that after 8 to 10 years, the advantage of having gone to an Ivy League school (as opposed to State U) disappears (all things being equal).  I could never in my wildest dreams afford Vanderbilt, much less Harvard.  Besides, if you went by our kids’ dreams right now, their choice of careers would mean that Ivy League just wouldn’t make sense (Trillian would major in Animal Science or Pre-vet – therefore the University of Tennessee is a great choice; Zaphod literally wants to be a rocket scientist (or at least an Aviation Engineer), therefore any school with a good engineering department would be the best fit).

But, keep in mind, they are 9 and 10.  In two or three years, Trillian might want to be a mathematician and Zaphod might want to write the great American novel.  So, it’s folly to worry about such things right now.

Coumpounding things, in the back of my mind, I have to remember that being a high-Achieving Asian will actually, possibly, hurt them in admissions – even though culturally my kids are about as Asian as Issac Hayes.  But once again, I can’t worry about these things right now.

Last May, they had an awards ceremony at school.  There were about 3 or 4 extremely high acheivers in each grade, and our kids weren’t in that group.  As little Johnny Braniac won the 4th grade award for acheivement in Math (his 5th award of the night), Lintilla whispered in my ear, “What’s wrong with our kids?”  At that moment, I must admit, I shared the sentiment.

You see how pervasive this is?  We talked about it later that night.  Both of our kids are Duke Tip Scholars, both have ITBS scores that guage their academic levels as about 4 grades above their current grade level, both are healthy, happy children with loves for potty humor and country music.  We have children who do not talk back (much) and never get into trouble with other adults.  But because they weren’t the absolute best, we felt inadequate as parents.

I need for my pastor to turn away for a moment bcause I have something important to say:

Screw that.

OK, I feel better.

I guess my original question was more of a financial one than anything: are the extra dollars for the harder schools worth it?  Lord knows, depending on the school, we may have a very hard time paying for it.  But you know what?  The conclusion I’ve come to is this:  we should save for the most expensive schools we can, and when the time comes choose the correct ones for our children.

If they happen to be the less expensive ones, we’ll use that money to go to Disney World.

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3 Responses to “Those Parents”

  1. nm Says:

    Slarti, I don’t want to argue with you about the public/private thing. We aren’t going to convince each other. But now that you have taken a deep breath, I want to remind you that there are some totally top-notch can’t-do-better-than-that public schools in Nashville, and that if your kids can get into them (yes, they’re highly competitive) they won’t cost you a cent. And even someone who isn’t a public-shools-ought-to-be-the-default-for-everyone-who-isn’t-at-least-a-couple-of-standard-deviations-outside-the-norm-in-one-way-or-another type like me might want to think about them as an option.

  2. Slartibartfast Says:

    nm, believe me, we’ve though many times about Kroft, and Hume Fogg and the others.

    It gets complicated, because we’ll be locked into the current school we’re at till 8th grade, unless I lose my job, then all bets are off.

    I say “locked in” becuase it means so much to Lintilla (she graduated from that school when it was an all-girls high school). She is extremely attached to that school, they are (relatively) inexpensive, and the kids are getting a really good early education. So, I have no problem through 8th grade.

    That takes us to high school. Let me ask you something: can we “apply” to metro magnet schools, while at the same time applying to various private schools? I do not take those off the table, because I’m probably going to need those extra tens of thousands of dollars for car insurance when they get to be teenagers 😉

    One other factor, we’d prefer to have religious education included. We’re protestants, but Catholic schools do appeal to us. We’re weird that way.

    FURTHER compounding the problem is something I’ve never written about, but will soon. We are not at the same socioeconomic level as the parents of our kids’ classmates. (Aunt B recently wrote about a certain country star; his son is in Zaphod’s class. If I weren’t semi-anonymous, I could tell you some VERY funny stories about this boy and my son going after each other during the 2004 election).

    I know from experience: this (the economic disparity) will probably cause problems once middle and high school start. But then again, it opens doors, and gives the kids contacts in a world they otherwise would not have access to.

    Can you tell, I’m so, so so torn about this? But then again, I’m overthinking, so I think I just need to let it be for now.

    I just wanted to let you know, we haven’t ruled out magnet schools at all. There’s just so much to consider all around.

    In our faith tradition, we believe that God will let us know what to do, in His way and time. I probably need to chill about it for a while.

  3. bridgett Says:

    We’re handling the “we aren’t in the same economic bracket as the other parents” thing right now. Kid’s school tuition is more than our house payment each month — however, we are absolutely satisfied, she’s happy and thriving intellectually, and it’s money well-spent. We can fake the social prestige (we’re well-educated, we’re white, we have “clean” jobs as college profs, we can talk the talk), but the money isn’t there. Our little blue Toyota is pretty conspicuous in a parking lot full of black BMWS, Volvos, and Mercedes. (Honestly, it looks like the G7 is convening every time there’s a soccer match.) Right now, we’re swapping volunteer time (like coaching or extra-curricular direction) for activity fees so that Kid can afford to be in those activities. We can’t donate to the Gala. We don’t get invited to golf with the NY Senate Majority Leader. We don’t make every birthday a production number. Luckily, Kid doesn’t really care yet about shoe brands or clothing styles as long as she gets to the library four times a week. It’s harder on my pride than it is on my kid, so I am learning to be cool with it.


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