Head of the Class

9 Aug

Image: Designtechtonics.biz

Not too long ago, in my newspaper column, I wrote about my son’s friends being given cars by their parents. I had heard that kids with cars—and I don’t mean Power Wheels—was pretty common here, but didn’t really believe it until one newly minted driver after another was given a car. And we’re not talking old cars in funky colors, like the mustard yellow Pinto that was my first car. Two of my son’s friends were given new Priuses. Or is it Prii?

I wrote that no kid should be given a car, especially a kid who just learned how to drive. Let that kid buy a car and he’d appreciate it, care for it, drive it with caution, fill it with gas using his own money. Until he could do that, I wrote, my son would be asking to borrow the family car. I mentioned that we can’t afford to buy our son any car, but even if we could, there’s no way in hell that we would.

I was accused of having class envy. You need to understand where I live to fully appreciate this accusation. Money magazine has named Naperville one of the 10 best places in America to raise children—more than once! There are a lot of reasons to like Naperville: good schools, nice houses, lovely downtown near the historic district. A river even runs through it.

In Naperville, you could live here.

With all that good publicity from Money magazine, lots of people moved here in the past 20 years or so. So, you’ve got the old timers who mostly live in the old neighborhoods. Back when I was a kid, houses in those neighborhoods were very affordable for a young family; my own family almost moved there. If you moved here in the good old days, your $25,000 house is probably worth more than $500,000 now. Wealthier people have moved here and built even more expensive houses. And less wealthy people started moving here when builders started turning farmland into subdivisions; I live in one of those. Today, we even have town houses, condos and (gasp) apartments.

Or you could live here.

Or here.

What started as a pretty nice small (white) town has become a city of more than 140,000 people replete with every race, religion and socio-economic grouping. We even have a prostitution ring and a heroin problem.

In that context, I understand the anxiety that pushed an obviously wealthy long-time resident to think that when I said “ there is no way I’m giving my son 24/7 access to something that is a proven killer, particularly of boys” what I actually meant is “rich people suck.”

I don’t think rich people suck—well, not all of them. There are rich people that suck and poor people that suck. I’m equal opportunity when it comes to thinking someone sucks. So, me with class envy? Nah.

I have had several other types of envy. Like kid envy. There are children who make their beds every morning, get their own breakfast and go happily to school. There are children who join in school activities, practice their music lessons, do their homework and help around the house. There are children who respect their parents, walk the dog, get good grades and brush their teeth. These are not my children.

Frequently, I find myself wishing that my son were more involved in activities at school, such as anything. And I would love for my daughter’s room to not look like Lord Voldemort could hide in it. But, then I wouldn’t have a son who calls me on his cell phone and says, “Hey, Mom. I’m sitting on a couch on the corner of Sanctuary and Lowell.” When I drive to said corner, I do indeed find my son sitting on a discarded sofa, kicking back like a football fan on a Sunday afternoon.

I have had penis envy, too. When I worked in public relations, I made a fairly decent salary. We bought our first house on it. But, if I had a penis, I would have made $25,000 more. That would have also made us a gay couple, but we’re ok with that. Hell, we adopted our second child and lived in Oak Park for a while.

Do I even need to mention shoe envy? Massive quantities of shoe envy here. My sister and her daughter have truly gorgeous shoes and they wear the same size, doubling the number of shoes available to each of them. Not fair, right? When my husband finally got his PR business off the ground, I could buy truly gorgeous shoes, too. I paid lots of money for some pairs. I still swoon over the Italian ones made completely of leather. Does that mean I envy myself my shoes? I think it might.

I certainly envy my daughter’s shoes. She has narrow feet. With a lot of obese children in the US, they make cheap shoes really wide these days. So, the Empress—I mean, my daughter—can only shop at the pricey children’s shoe store in town, or Nordstrom.

But the envy I’m most likely to suffer is Writer’s Envy. Like most writers, I read a lot. I read all kinds of things, from crappy fantasy to classic literature. And when I find truly good writing, I want to crawl in a hole and never touch my computer keyboard again. I feel like Mike Myers and Dana Carvey meeting Aerosmith in Wayne’s World. “I am not worthy,” I think, “I am not worthy.”

Being bipolar actually has its benefits in dealing with Writer’s Envy. Reading something truly fabulous will send me into a tailspin. But all I have to do is wait for the next mania train to pull into the station and I’ve got myself convinced I can write a bestseller . . .in a month . . .while still working . . .and raising my kids. You jealous yet?

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20 Responses to “Head of the Class”

  1. scribblechic August 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Often a critical thought says more about the critic than the subject. I did not read class envy, I read common sense.

    • jmlindy422 August 10, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      Thank you, scribblechic. I like to think I am full of common sense. Except when it comes to shoes.

  2. The Waiting August 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I had penis envy really bad when I was in labor. I have Naperville envy too.

    • jmlindy422 August 10, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      What on earth do you envy about Naperville? The lack of culture? The lack of independent, funky restaurants? The lack of progressive thinking? I’ll admit it was pretty cool to see an entire herd of deer run through the prairie (two minutes from my house) and to watch a hawk eat it’s dinner about 30 yards from my dining room, but I’d kill for an independent coffee shop.

      • The Waiting August 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

        The one and only time I ever was in Naperville was when I was 16, when my family tagged along on one of my dad’s business trips. We stayed in Naperville bc that’s where his meeting was, but traveled to the city with my mom when he was working. I just remember thinking it was the coolest suburb ever, which it was compared to the suburb of Memphis where we lived. I liked it bc there was a train to the city and little streets you could walk along step into a restaurant or store (Memphis is extremely pedestrian unfriendly). I was easily impressed back then. I guess I locked that memory away.

      • jmlindy422 August 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

        Naperville is pretty cool as far as real suburbs go. I loved Oak Park for it’s funkiness and liberal point of view. I really miss that here, but the population is far more diverse here. My kids love it and I love the amount of nature. You should come and see if it still lives up to your memory. I bet it does.

  3. nevercontrary August 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    I was given a 16 year old honda accord for my 15th birthday. dial clock. no a/c. one radio station. white with blue interior. Needless to say I was the coolest kid at school. My grandma saved it for me.
    My sister got a new honda civic. Dont do that to your kids.
    I work at a rich school and the parents say it is not a gift to the kids, but a gift of freedom to you. Now I am not a slave to my child’s schedule.They say. I guess I see that argument, however, I do not have the 100,000 they spend on their childs mercedes so, i guess i better start saving for a couple bus passes for the kids

    • jmlindy422 August 10, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      I think it’s very interesting that the “wealthiest” high school in Naperville (we have five serving our student population) is also the one with the worst heroin problem. When a kid has a car, it’s very easy to get on the expressway, drive to the west side of Chicago and buy cheap heroin. Some of the people here in N’ville think that the “black gangs” are bringing the drugs here and forcing them on our kids. Ha!

      Re: bus passes. I really wish we had better public transportation here. It’s all automobile, all the time.

      Your Accord sounds awesome.

  4. sukanyabora August 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Totally agree with Scribblechic-common sense it is. I shudder to think of gifting a car to my kid, although my 8 year old is in a desperate hurry to get a license!

  5. sukanyabora August 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Oh and I forgot-writer’s envy. I am totally with you on that. I too suffer from it, miserably!

    • jmlindy422 August 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      It’s a terrible thing! A fellow blogger announced she’s going to write a book and I had to go take a nap. Keep trying to tell myself that if I can run 10 miles, I can write a book, right?

  6. twistingthreads August 13, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    I found it disturbing how irate some people got at that particular article and a few others (maybe it’s the psych major in me, but I can’t help reading comments even when I’m not commenting). You hadn’t said anything bad about those people as parents, simply stated a personal preference and how you were raised, but they were very quick to jump to conclusions and take anything you said as a personal attack on them, or even to make assumptions about your viewpoints on one matter and stretch them to imply that you were x sort of person because of one small turn of phrase. The situation was strange…but it probably says far more about them than it does about you. Hey, you were polite despite the angry mob, and you did have people standing up for you, so that’s comforting.

    • jmlindy422 August 13, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks! It can be pretty weird living here. The socio-economic spread to quite wide, but not as spread out as it would be in, say, Chicago.

  7. Mary Rayis August 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Hey, you have no business having writer’s envy since your are an enviable writer! I indulge in said envy every time I read one of your posts. Maybe I’ll go take a nap.

    • jmlindy422 August 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Oh, thank you so much. That means a lot. And a nap is good for anything . . .envy . . .old age . . .not particular reason.

  8. todadwithlove August 15, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    And I agree with Mary Rayis. You are one of the most awesome writers I have known (of). WRITE that novel, and I’ll be your first reader.

    • jmlindy422 August 15, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Wow! So much love lately. I’m lapping it up. Writing a novel is going to take a gargantuan effort on my part, both to do the actual work and to fight my BPD which will alternately have me up then down. But, when I started running, I could only actually run for 60 seconds. More than 2 years later, I remind myself, I can run 8 miles in two hours…of course I still take walk breaks! Actually, I’ve begun the process with my therapist who is terrific at helping me break things down into chunks.

      • todadwithlove August 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

        That’s an invaluable lesson for most things in life, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing.

  9. 108fate February 1, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Drawing envy. Im in class with people who can draw and boy that would be nice. It sure would help my graphic design. I would never give my kid a brand new car. I got my moms old car for graduation, but I had to insure it and pay for gas myself.

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