Pulling My Child From Private School Has Made Me A Richer And Poorer Person

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I’ve kept the conversations brief for the most part, because, well, it’s not that I feel ashamed, but on some level it does feel defeating to not be able to let my daughter continue the early education she has begun. It has made me bitter about private school, finally really understanding that it is for the rich (and a few very lucky poor), and has made me ashamed that I didn’t want to work harder, earlier, to make public education in New York better.

It has also made me hate the finance/corporate law types that surround me in the halls at drop-off. And believe me, I understand that those (for the most part) guys work about 100 times harder than I do. And I still feel bitter. And I know I have to move on psychologically, and put just as much energy into the next school we become a part of, and make it a wonderful experience for our child and our whole family.

In talking to another mom in a similar situation to ours, and asking her what she replies when asked in the school halls if her child is returning, she told me she says, “No, believe me, if we could afford it, we’d be right back here next year.” I thought that was tactful and honest and also distancing from the question-asker, as if to diplomatically say, let’s not continue this conversation. But I’m still bitter, and as I walk off after drop-off every morning, after every innocent mom questions our return status, I think about all the things I really want to say. Like:

  1. “I spent some time down at Occupy Wall Street during my unemployed months this winter, and I no longer feel comfortable pretending to be part of the 1%.”
  2. “We’ve decided that traveling to Europe, all four of us, at least once a year, and buying more designer clothes, will lead to more career opportunities for me – which I really need right now – than will private-school tuition.”
  3. “My son didn’t get accepted and I’m too bitter about it to continue to wander the halls here every day.”
  4. “I’m tired of pretending I care about fakey rich-people parenting concerns when I could be burning another 50 calories on the elliptical trainer in that time.”
  5. “I’ve decided public education needs us more.”

But instead, I’ll continue to be diplomatic, and go with my friend’s answer, because I know no one intends to be hurtful with their questions. And I don’t need to make any enemies I might have to run into to at the gym.

(Photo: Sam72/Shutterstock)

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