Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Rich, and How They Stay That Way

How did our middle class asses get here?

You know, they say the rich get richer and they are right. Part of it might be the way wealth builds, but mostly, it is all about associations.

So, we are not rich. By far. My husband has a government job and I don't work. But we are fucking lucky. Through the generosity of family, we are able to give our kids opportunities we never would have dreamed of ourselves.

It all started when we picked a preschool.

Now, I picked a preschool for my three-year-old based solely on the kind of experience she would have. I wanted her to go to the school with the best academics and the best spirit. So I wormed our way in.

Little did I know the type of lifestyle I was setting my kids toward for life. Choosing that school led to violin lessons, Junior League invites, and inclusion in an inner circle I had known nothing about.

The first time we went to a preschool friend's house for a party, and they had valet parking at the circular drive leading up to their freaking mansion...I knew we weren't in a mill town anymore.

Eight years later...

We're still middle class. Maybe upper middle class. We have some savings. We're upside down on our house. (Isn't everyone?) We still live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. (But combat pay helps!) But we have a financial safety net most people don't have, and our kids are still going to private school.

But the level of school, um, let's say "prestige" has gone up a notch.

Now that my daughter is a preteen, it has hit me hard.

A few weeks ago, she got an invitation in the mail for the cotillion season at a country club. I put it in the recycling. Since it had a fee I assumed it was like all the other pageant-type schemes we've been getting "invited" to since our daughter was born.

Then we went to school that day and I found out that it was a thing. All the sixth graders go. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter and her friends had been planning for it for months.

So I came home and dug the damn invite out of the trash.

Does this mean I'm raising a deb? Does it?

How the hell did that happen?

Now my daughter wants to go to a summer camp for girls. Desperately. But not any summer camp. Oh, no. The summer camp. A summer camp that has legacies. Apparently, it's a thing.

Here's the thing about us. We're not going to say "no" based on just the principle that it is a rich girl thing. We've been researching the heck out of the place. And it looks awesome. We think it will be a wonderful experience for her.

But now she'll be a "_____ Girl" for the rest of her life. And that's a term that has some clout, especially in this region. In fact, as an alumnae she can bring her husband and children to Family Camp. She wants us to go to Family Camp. But we can't. I spent my summers in my own dang backyard.

It's the associations that make the rich get richer.

Hell, we get discounts at businesses in our area just because of where my kids go to school. (Free cookies at Subway anyone?)

The cop's kid in me thinks it is not right. But the parent in me says, "What the hell!" If my kids can have an easier life than my parents had, even then my own husband had, why would I deny them?

My kids are part of a society that my husband and I never really will be. We're pretty much depending on his military rank and our stunning personalities to get by.

Luckily we have learned one really important lesson along the way. Rich people are not bad people. They're like most people. Most are pretty okay. Some suck major ass. And some are really awesome.

We're pretty damn sure we're raising some awesome ones.

So my "_____ Girl" is going to cotillion.

And I find myself asking yet again, "How the hell did we get here?"

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