I'm Tired of Having Less Money than Other Families!
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Spring break is coming up and it seems that all of my daughter's friends are heading to exotic destinations -- Colorado for skiing or the Caribbean -- and we will be stuck at home. My kid (10) doesn't seem to mind, but for me, it's a sore subject. I'm tired of feeling like her classmates' parents can always afford to do more than we do, and it makes me feel like we shouldn't be at a school like that (that we otherwise love), and it also makes me dread spring break. I don't want my kid to feel like she always has less.
Sick of Staycations
So before I get to the real advice, let me just get this out of the way. Your family not being as rich as the others at your school does not mean that your daughter "has less." Does she have less love and support and attention than her wealthier classmates? Does she have less time with her parents and the people who matter to her? Does she have less hope and happiness in her life? I would suspect that the answer to these questions is a "no" and also an eye roll, because of course we all live in the real world where money matters. But it doesn't matter more than the other things I listed and sometimes it helps to have that reminder.
Now, onto our regularly scheduled advice column.
I've been where you are, lady -- stuck at home while my kids' classmates traveled the world and came back with stories from faraway lands and with trinkets and tans. Unlike you, however, I cherish each and every occasion that I don't have to get to the airport, so I enjoyed that particular silver lining while I relaxed at home and caught up on important TV viewing. But I know your situation is less about the actual travel, and more about feeling that you can't keep up with the Jones'. And that's never a good feeling. Especially if there's nothing good on TV.
The question is whether or not a never-a-good-feeling is bad enough for your daughter to switch schools. If you and your daughter are otherwise happy with the school, the answer would seem to be a resounding NO. The other students having more money than you is not a good reason to switch schools. Although I did not get this impression from your letter, if there really is no economic diversity and the school vibe seems focused on personal wealth, then I wouldn't blame you for looking elsewhere.
But the fact is, no matter where you go, there will be people who have more money than you. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I went to high school with the children of some of the wealthiest people in NYC, so there was no chance of even thinking of "keeping up with them." But you know what? They were kids. We sat at the lunch table together, we hated the same teachers and we were equally excited when school was closed because of a snow day.
So take heart. Chances are great that "having less" is more of a sore subject for you than for your daughter. Plan something affordable you can do over spring break, a day trip perhaps, or an outing to a local zoo with some hot chocolate in the afternoon. And remember, rich or poor, most parents want just one thing from spring break -- for it to be over so the kids can get back to school.