Altitude adjustments

Most of the time, what I wear to work doesn’t have a collar to speak of, as most six for [sale price] T-shirts don’t, but it’s always understood, at least by me, that if I did have a collar, it would be blue: I may have a tech job of at least moderate complexity, but I don’t sit around and watch things happen either.

This particular ethic seems to have settled fairly well upon the next generation as well, and that’s good, because I couldn’t pull off that whole helicopter thing:

Those who inhabit the affluent uplands of 21st-century America have problems the rest of us cannot imagine. When you’re near the top of the mountain, it’s a long way down, and there are limits to what elite parents can do to prevent their child from suffering the stigma of downward mobility. Money can buy a lot of things, but money alone will not inoculate your child against failure, especially if your idea of “success” requires your kid to have perfect grades, be senior class president, win the state science fair, be solo violinist in the school orchestra, and spend her summers helping famine victims in a Third World country. This results in an over-scheduled childhood, with parents in the role of Doctor Frankenstein and their child as a sort of laboratory experiment to produce the future Harvard student.

It’s probably just as well, then, that I applied to only one of the Ivies, and subsequently did not attend it.


  1. fillyjonk »

    9 July 2015 · 10:31 am

    I’m too cautious and too afraid of failure so I don’t try as many things as I perhaps might. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for one of these bubble-wrapped helicopter-parented kids – I was pretty free-range as a child.

    And I grew up in an era where “success” in school meant largely (a) you got more Satisfactories than Needs Improvements on the report card and (b) the principal wasn’t calling your parents over stuff.

    Kids have fifty or sixty years to be a slaving drone in the workforce; they should be allowed to goof around and have fun as kids. I didn’t have enough fun as a kid; I was too focused on grades.

  2. McGehee »

    9 July 2015 · 2:45 pm

    I was free-range too, and latchkey to boot. It was up to me from an early age to set my own guardrails by trial and error.

    On the one hand it makes me very watchful in unfamiliar situations, but vastly more confident because I’ve learned how to make them familiar.

  3. fillyjonk »

    9 July 2015 · 3:53 pm

    Also, I think the whole “free range” thing allowed for a better development of common sense. I’ve seen people slightly younger (or slightly more coddled in their youth than I was) who show an astonishing lack of basic cluefulness.

  4. CGHill »

    9 July 2015 · 5:08 pm

    I didn’t have much of a leash as a kid, and once I got a proper bicycle, the world, for values of “world” not exceeding 25-30 miles in circumference, was mine.

  5. sya »

    9 July 2015 · 11:53 pm

    Well, I guess I was one of those overachieving kids who crammed my time with extracurricular activities and volunteer work. But I was mostly putting the pressure on myself. My parents never forced me to do any of that stuff or asked for my grades. Anyways, I’m just happy I can live a relatively comfortable life. I’m okay with being average as long as I’m able to do what I like. Being so concerned with status seems way too stressful.

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