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Keeping Up With The Joneses: My Daughter’s Getting A Tutor

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My parents hired a tutor for me when I was a teenager in the 12th grade and needed to pass math to graduate. Thanks to this tutor, I did pass math – with a brilliant 56%. Now, years later, I’m seriously considering getting my daughter a tutor, even though she is only in third grade and only eight years old. And she actually does okay, if not a little bit higher than average, in all of her subjects.

Why a tutor, then? Well, to be honest, this is one of those “Keeping up with the Joneses” parenting situations. Meaning, I’ve talked to other parents in her class and it turns out a number of the children in my daughter’s class already have tutors and have since the beginning of the school year. Yes, by the time children are in third grade, parents are already hiring them tutors. I’m mostly opposed to this, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to follow along and jump on the bandwagon and start asking around for tutors.

It reminds me, to make a comparison, of the day my daughter told me she didn’t want to wear the Elmo shirt I had laid out for her to wear to camp because, as she explained, the other children would make fun of her. I just let her pick out another shirt, because even though there was a lesson in this – it shouldn’t matter what other people think – I’m not that type of mommy martyr where everything needs to have a lesson, even for myself as a parent. I didn’t want her to be made fun of and now I don’t want her to fall behind, even on the surface, because other mothers are hiring tutors for their daughters in third grade.

It’s peer pressure from other mothers that I’m dealing with! I’m opposed to hiring a tutor so early, too, because it is still early in the school year, and because I do believe there should be some sort of even playing field in class. Yet, because of these mothers hiring tutors – and, to be clear, these are for children who do not have serious learning issues, or any issues at all – I feel I need to, as well.

One mother hired a tutor just to help out her daughter with her homework weekly. Another one hired one to help her daughter with math, so she could be ahead of the game. Again, let me repeat, these tutors are being hired are for kids who are eight years old. Isn’t it too soon to know if your child is good at math or not? And when did being “average,” as my daughter seems to be in school, become such an awful thing?

I was also shocked by how these parents kept (or keep) the fact they hire tutors for their children a secret, as if their children were C.I.A agents. It was only after I became close with some of the other mothers that they admitted their daughters had tutors. I’m quite positive that even the teacher does not know that some of the children in the class have tutors. The teacher probably thinks, “Wow, these kids are geniuses!” (while thinking, “Um, Eckler’s daughter is just average”).

And, yet, if I don’t hire her a tutor then she won’t do as well, or at least her marks won’t reflect as well as the other children. When I brought up the idea of getting a tutor with my daughter’s father, he was gung ho about it, because he, too, has heard from other parents of young children that they have tutors. So, pretty much, my average-in-marks daughter will be getting a tutor.

I’m telling you about it, but I won’t be telling other mothers in her class or her teacher, either. Because that’s the way it seems to go. I don’t make the rules. But this seems to be an unwritten one at my daughter’s school. And, in this way, I’ll be keeping up with the Joneses. Because if you can’t beat them, join them. And I’m sure there is a lesson in this. But I’ll leave that to my daughter’s new tutor.

(Photo: Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock)