Nothing gives us more sweet periomenopausal pleasure than the righteous salvos of our sister “Burning Moms.” I, Sandra, loved this little note I got via KPCC, from a sister mom Gen X’er (Gen X’ers, remember us????!?!?!?). (Technically, I was born in the gray area of 1962, but I definitely feel more Gen X than Baby Boom.)
HELICOPTER PARENTS. . . OF ONE
What also fuels obsessiveness with private Kindergartens are Helicopter Parents! This ridiculous phenomenon’s hitting it’s apex.
With their one dainty child, maybe two, these over-involved moms and dads are all too happy to overpay for Pre-K &Kindergartens.
Arms race ensues. Now every middleclass &up toddler in town MUST attend the $22K+/yr school, otherwise, child abuse!
The remedy’s larger families! No parents of 4+ kids would waste time on this nonsense.
Priorities. Common sense. Reason!
(GenX down-to-earth parent of 4).
PS: Kendall, so true. The brilliant and amazing Wendy Mogel (Blessing of a Skinned Knee, and more) has written a lot about this.
Mogel describes the phenomenon of affluent older parents having just the one child and becoming obsessed with mortality. They are unable to cope with the common bruises and bumps of childhood. If a few five year olds have a few runny noses, a brand new oxygen ionizer is RUSHED into the classroom. She describes these parents treating their children “like handicapped royalty.”
Observing the goings-on in the deeper canyons of Los Angeles, another friend has coined the phrase “artisanal parenting,” which calls to mind a pair of neurotic star chefs with their own HGTV cable show shaping their one exquisite tarragon and rosemary boule–a boule named “Tuolumne.” (A name I absolutely love for a child–Tuolumne. Makes a simple Sierra seem so much like yesterday’s Doris.)
Dear Magnet Yentas,
I was just in the kitchen, reading and filing stuff from my daughter’s
high school magnet, the Cleveland Humanities Magnet, and listening to
Sandra on the radio. ( Laugh. File. Laugh. Read. Laugh. Toss.)
I was inspired to offer my services as another parent who as been
through it and lived to tell the tale.
Our daughter Camille was at the Maggie Haves PreSchool (progressive).
Because we were in a top tier school, the parent population was the
artsy,the political, the anxious, the psycho-analyzed, and included
the very wealthy and famous. As a result, in addition to the down
home parties we threw in our driveway in Van Nuys,, we went to those
over-the-top kid birthday parties in Bel Air that my friends back in
Chicago read about in the Sunday NY Times and mocked.
When our gifted (natch) child got into Oakwood Elementary, we spent
four expensive years with that same group in a setting that, while
longed for, turned out to be not so progressive after all. When we
realized that we had to get out because we were not rich and we were
no longer drinking the Kool Aid, Camille was lucky enough to get into
the Community Magnet School for 4th and 5th grades. (I had been
accruing Magnet points for years.)
As you know, CM is a great school. And she flourished. She went on to
the Performing Arts Magnet at Millikan where she continued to thrive
and is now a freshman in the fabulous core program at Cleveland.
I can tell a much more specific and expanded version of this story and
would be happy to do so. It happened because I worked the system, so I
know how to do that. (And now, so does my kid!) Getting into the
Magnet system was nothing less than a family wake up call to life as
it is and can be and should be. Plus, it’s free, But the real cost
of private school is not the dollars, but the mindset.
The real truth that needs to be shared is what Sandra talked about on
the radio is what made me write today: the value of community
involvement, of arts participation at an amateur but active-not-
passive-consumerist level, and the grace found in giving our kids the
opportunity to engage the world on the world’s terms so they can stand
on their own.
DIVERSITY IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Okay, if I hear one more comment about how much more “diverse” the private school (feel free to insert your favorite school to mock here) that my friend or aquaintance sends their child to, than any of the local public schools, I think that I may do something that I regret. Here in Eagle Rock that generally means that the private school is whiter and blacker, but less brown. When I, the economist, then argue that there is also such a thing as income diversity, I generally get an argument that over 50 percent of the students at said school receive some sort of financial aid (whatever that means). Besides more income diversity in the public schools means more middle class people, since many/most public schools have more than 50 percent of the kids on free lunch.
I say to these parents, “If you want ethnic and income diversity – send your kid to public school – you are diversity.”
This seems to be the go to argument for middle class, politically liberal folks who are trying to come to terms with the fact that they are buying into the private school hype. They don’t want to have an actual honest conversation about income and race. Have you noticed that in the Choices catalogue (magezine whatever it is) that while you can mark off many ethnicities you still have to choose a “primary” ethnicity. I actually think all you might have to do to change a school’s demographic (recruit more middle class parents) is to change how people in the school already report their ethnicity to favor more diversity. What an excellent natural experiment. I think the Human Subjects Committee would never go for it. But I am definitely curious as to whether our Principal could be recruited….
I’ve had well-meaning parents say they send their kids to public schools so they can sit next to kids like mine (Hispanic). However, what they fail to realize is that my son is addicted to Japanese culture, took two years of college Japanese, and my daughter’s definition of a burrito contains eggs, cheese and potatoes. I’ve spent 18 years telling my kids that color does not matter (not the white part and not the Hispanic part), and yet we can’t go two days without being reminded of it by either LAUSD or well-meaning parents who want to see their specific reality.
We did look at the scholarships offered by many private schools before my daughter started kindergarten and between the way they calculate income (meaning I’d have to work full-time to be considered), and the $150 application fees, I quickly settled on finding a really nice public school just a few miles from my front door (our neighborhood school is still year round and requires uniforms, and that’s a total dealbreaker).
As for LAUSD accounting practices, remember that magnets are a desegregation program, and they’re upholding a federal mandate. So unless the edict comes from Washington, D.C., I don’t see them changing anything with their reporting methods. My son continues to check two boxes everywhere he goes, with the exception of his 13-year-stint at LAUSD. He never wanted his app in the trash.
To all Young “Burning Moms” ~
I am a 64-year-old woman, mother of two wonderful and successful adult “geek” children, who both have PhDs in scientific fields. Both were born in Pasadena, where we lived until 20 1/2 years ago, before moving to New England. My husband and daughter are both Caltech alumni; my husband returned to grad school there in 1982… so we actually remember seeing Sandra Loh in a performance at Caltech when she was still a student there! Also, I’ve heard and enjoyed her on NPR a few times in the past couple of years.
We have always been totally behind public school education. Our kids both went through the Pasadena public schools when we lived there (except for K, and in our son’s case, 1st grade). They attended the Pasadena Alternative School — I don’t even know if it still exists. They had fine, creative, dedicated teachers and it worked out so well for them!
So that’s “all it takes” ~ active, involved parents, great teachers (you can search until you find them), curious and motivated kids. Not truckloads of money. And some relaxation and awareness that education is Always happening.
I don’t have grandkids yet (still hoping!) but I work as the secretary at a Nursery School here in Connecticut, so I’m in touch with what “contemporary parenting” is like. My general impulse is to tell many parents “Don’t Worry so much, and have fun with your kids! Laugh and sing with them!!”
So this is the view from the other end (though I suppose things don’t always turn out so well). Carry on. Sincerely, Linda Soha