Thursday, January 24, 2008

Class Meme

This one came from LutherPunk, though I've seen it elsewhere, too.

Bold the ones that are true.

1. Father went to college

He went two years on the GI Bill, but they were pushing him to major in business, which he hated, so he quit and went to work tending bar.

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

I'm the only one on my mom's side to have even attended college, let alone finished

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

two cousins who are attorneys

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

One thing my parents never skimped on

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

By both parents, actually. That's one of my favorite early memories.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

Had one year of classical guitar before we came to the realization that if I still couldn't tune my own guitar after a year, I was never going to be able to play very well. My parents paid for lessons partially in trade (mom cleaned the teacher's studio)

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed postively

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

My parents couldn't afford to do much more than give me a little spending money every now and then. The federal government, state government, private scholarships, Gannon grants and scholarships, and lots and lots of loans paid for my college costs.

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp.

Girl Scout camp the summer before 5th grade for one week

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

No, but I tutored other kids to pick up a little extra cash

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

I vaguely recall one vacation to Sea World in Cleveland when I was around 4 where we stayed in a motel for at least a couple days of the trip (we stayed with relatives for the rest), and I have pictures of a trip we took to Hersheypark when I was probably about 2 - I assume that involved a motel, too. But since we didn't take any vacations at all after I was 5 or 6, I'm not bolding this one.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child

If you count my uncle's paint-by-numbers, which I do. They were huge paintings, and they had to take him a good long while to complete.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house

Yes, if you count a townhouse. They bought it (thanks to the VA) when I was 18 months old.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

If you count two mortgages as owning

25. You had your own room as a child

Benefit of being an only

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

I'm lucky I had a savings account!

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.

First time I flew I was 23. I went with my mother to Milwaukee for her surgery.

31. Went on a cruise with your family

Does the Gateway Clipper county? No?

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

Yep. The advantage of living in Andrew Carnegie's city - a fantastic natural history and art museum he founded that had low cost admission.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

I knew how much we paid on the budget plan for gas every month, and I knew why there were afghans and blankets all over the house in the winter.

11/34 - 32%.

Not sure what the significance of this is. I can tell you that we always struggled with money. I got free lunches in high school. I was only able to go to a Catholic elementary school because my parents were able to pay part of the tuition in trade (and because the pastor gave them a break even beyond that). I wore hand-me-downs (getting uniforms in 7th grade was the best thing that ever happened to me). I didn't even get my drivers license in high school, and I rode the bus everywhere.

But, at the same time, by parents cherished me and made sacrifices for me. I had books as a kid, though most came from library sales and second-hand shops. My parents read to me and with me for as long as I can remember. I went to pre-K, which studies are showing now is important for future academic success (and it was another place that I had a Presbyterian influence in my life). I played sports (badly) and had guitar lessons (sooo not a success). I took summer classes in things I was interested in at Buhl Planetarium (now Carnegie Science Center) and the Community College of Allegheny County (paid for in part by the principal and pastor from my elementary school - which I didn't know until much later). Ever since I started reading on my own when I was around 4, it was just assumed that I'd go to college and that we'd figure out how to make that work when the time came. And that's what we did.

Here's what I think. How much money your family does or doesn't have doesn't matter a whole lot. What matters is what you do with what you have. We couldn't go on overnight vacation, but my parents took me to every historical site, museum, etc. that was within day trip distance and wasn't too expensive. I saw symphonies, operas, and plays by getting free tickets to dress rehersals. I watched the news with my parents and we discussed it. Heck, one of my first memories of politics was reading about the 1976 presidental elections with my dad. I think I was the only kid in my kindergarten class who even knew what an election was, let alone who was running and what their platforms were. We made liberal use of Mr. Carnegie's libraries.

Now, would I have been better off if my parents had had the money to pay for me to go on school trips, learn to play violin, and wear clothes that didn't get me teased? Maybe. But if I had to sacrifice any of my parents' love, atttention, and even discipline to get those things, I wouldn't do it. I even think I would have said that back when I was a kid, when I didn't have a TV or a phone in my room, or a car, or tickets to every concert that came to town.

I guess my point is that what matters the most is what parents' give of their time, and love, and attention, not what they give of their wallets.

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