Tuesday, May 24, 2011

if only money DID grow on trees

That old saying "money doesn't grow on trees" is now more surreal than it ever has been in my entire life. It seems money is the root of nearly everything, at least ALL things material. And some things emotional too.

Our daughter is in Kindergarten, and we have one going into Kindergarten in the fall. We have chosen to send them to a public school, we never even considered private and or charter schools. That would mean sending our children and money to a For-profit organization, when there is no guarantee the education would be any different from a public non-profit institution. Never mind the fact that I don't trust For-profit institutions (College though, is a different blog, and we aren't near that stage yet), all the money seems to go to a fancy this or that and seems to pad the pocket of a superintendent who lives in a wealthy neighborhood. I mean how does a brand new book differ from a book that is years old but contains the same information? What is that telling our children, that they need new stuff for absolutely everything? I got tired old books growing up, but I learned the same thing any of my peers from a private school learned. Talking to people throughout my life, I found no difference in the education we shared as a whole, the difference was always the name of the school, prestiegious vs public sector. I also learned personalities were shifted depending on where a person attended school, i.e. public, more likely to be humble and friendly, (or sometimes not so friendly or even unambitious). Private, pretentious, driven, and most likely friendly too, but there is a certain "air" about a person who feels they are entitled to all things new. It's just been my observation. We prefer our kids grow up without that certain "air" about them.

So as we head out of the school for summer, I reflect on the school year that has gone by, we spent a lot of money. I mean more that I figured for a public school. Before the school started, parents are given a list of classroom supplies needed for the school year. Further more, the teacher sets a post outside the classroom, a list of needed supplies bigger than crayons/pencils/paper/kleenex...etc. That might include certain engagement tools, games, even pieces of furniture and area rugs. Parents can donate these items, tax-deductible of course, but who counts a $10 game on their tax returns? Then, in addition to the class supplies, the school sends out an tax-deductible donation envelop to keep assured programs in place: music, art, sports, etc. So, the parent is encouraged to give the maximum amount asked for, and too, most employers can match the donation for a further tax-deductible benefit. Then not too long into the school year, naturally the children get to go on field trips. So little notes come home with the children that field trip does cost, and if we don't pay, the child will be left behind in the school library or the such. How unfair would it be for the child not to go on the fun trip? so we pay the $7 to $10 per trip. The posts for class supplies continue to be put up outside the classroom periodically, a new game or set of books is requested, again, tax-deductible. Then there are the various fundraisers, pumpkins and christmas trees, restaurants and Haircuts, places you spend money, they will donate a pre-determined amount to the school. Then there is my least favorite, SCRIPT ( I have never bought anything from SCRIPT and never will). I didn't even mention the other supplies associated with school, clothing, lunches, home school material.

Now, I will say for the most part I don't mind all this. It's all good for the long run. It's good for everyone. We signed up for this sort of thing when we became parents. We knew full well it would be an expensive venture, my husband and I embraced it, as well as our children. But it really does seem like a lot. And being a one income family, the familiar and well documented stress of family budget tightens and we have to go without things we had before having kids. I reckon the expense doesn't stop. If and when I get a job again, the money situation will ease slightly, I look forward to that.

It all adds up fast. I've spent nearly $1000 just writing this blog. I wish money really did grow on trees.