I don’t know them

Who are these people? I keep hearing about these people who want to push their kids into prestigious colleges. People who want to know what sport their 9 year old should take to get into an Ivy League school. But I haven’t really met them. Maybe its because they don’t have time for me and I don’t have time for them. I’m the sort of parent who wants my kids to be active and interested in various things — I want to cultivate curiosity — but that’s it. If they want to go be a doctor or lawyer, well, great. But if not, then great. I suspect that I had a neighbor once who was like this. He was able to remodel his house quicker than we did ours. He was always busy. His wife was busy doing cancer research. Great stuff. But then, I talked to them about where they were going, what they were doing. The phrase that stuck in my mind was “It’s all about maximizing our earning potential.” Of course, I didn’t say anything, but that phrase stuck with me. So he was one of them! I’m envying the guy across the street who is quite happy in his half of the shotgun double. An artist, he’s painted the walls nicely. He has an autistic child, and doesn’t make a ton of money, but no biggie. He’s happy with what he’s got — at least he seems like it. Of course, I’m also envious of the first guy and his tenaciousness, his ability to plan out and execute a home rennovation quickly. But that’s it. He just doesn’t seem to have as much fun. The guys I know and love are friends of mine who went to schools like St. John’s and now make an ok living as a carpenter. Or the maintenance welder who had a lot of free time on the job, so he read quite a few books on the saints and was conversant in the Church Fathers. Guys like and . Thoughtful, curious people. None of them went to an Ivy League school. None of them seem to obsess over sending their children to these sorts of schools. But they’re interesting people, none-the-less. In fact, come to think of it, I’m begining to believe that the driven parent is a bugaboo. Rarely seen, but much feared.

4 thoughts on “I don’t know them”

  1. Ivy League

    Ivy League, are you kidding me? I wanted to go to Oxford and become a medievalist! And then it was UC Berkeley to study Old Irish language and literature. And then I decided, “No, by God! I’m going to become a Document Scanning Technician and change the title to Imaging Systems Specialist!” Wooo-hooo! My dreams are realized!

    I’ve spent most of my life slopping around with some weird insecurity and desire to “be somebody” just as that post you link cites. It’s an identity problem, I’d guess.

    I just want my kids to have a good sense of themselves — to not feel like they have to measure up to anybody’s screwy standards of what’s important and praise worthy. I want them to be able to think for themselves and not to be intimidated by anyone — no matter how lofty the person — and at the same time to find themselves in community. Come to think of it, managing to impart that balance may be more than I can afford.

    Screw money and status and influence. Don’t even get too fixated on the whole pursuit of happiness business — not happiness as we define it today. I just want them to be comfortable in their own skin, to be compassionate and charitable and to walk around with their eyes open… and to experience life — at least occassionally — with a sense of mystery and longing.

    1. Re: Ivy League

      re: “happiness as we define it today.”

      happiness is all about contentment, for me. Being satisfied.

      Kinda like the Orthodox “elimination of passions”.

      BTW: ever notice that if you stop reading the newspaper and watching TV, you end up feeling better. Or maybe that’s just me.

      1. Re: Ivy League

        I never started reading the newspaper and haven’t watched TV on a regular basis for many years. Don’t keep up with current events at all, and maybe I’m too far in that direction. If happiness is contentment I’ve had maybe 2 happy moments in my life. I prefer C.S. Lewis’ notion of ‘joy’, anyway. Contentment is something to strive for, but a bit of an alien creature for me. On the other hand, spiritual longing as I’ve experienced it in nature, or in the liturgy, or a few times in prayer, or with loved ones has an entirely different feel to it. Lewis’ ‘joy’ is the only word I can come up with to describe it.

      2. Re: Ivy League

        Works for me … avoiding the newspaper. Let’s see when I was in the middle of a family crisis the O.J. thing hit. I was too busy with personal stuff to follow all the hype, and refused to follow it when it went to trial even to the point of turning off TV mentions and flippinng past his name inn magazines.
        Amazing how I lived all those months without debating his guilt or not.

        I have a friend who literally HAS to cut out the news of everyone else’s life or she goes into anxiety attacks. Her MD recommended turning it off. We reallyh do have way too much information and viewing. I mean how many times can you watch the Twin towers fall or the waters rise in New Orleans and not begin to feel as if all of the sky is falling everywhere. It can be immobilizing rather than mobilizing to know what is happening.

        In Paradis Lost, the people in the isolated Mountain read 10 year-old papers, and still got agitated about some things.

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