Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Spoiled Only Child

I cadged this meme about privilege from Stephanie over at Sweet Water Journal, and even though she didn't tag me I thought it would be an interesting exercise in actually admitting how privileged I've been in my life. The idea is to highlight those sentences that apply to you...with appropriate explanation, should you see fit to include it. (Steph mentions that this meme is from from What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. They ask that you please acknowledge their copyright if you use the meme.)

1. Father went to college. Supposedly his girlfriend/first wife wrote many of his papers, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a smart guy.
2. Father finished college. With a master's in music ed.
3. Mother went to college.
4. Mother finished college. With a master's in music ed. Gee...I wonder why I'm a music teacher?!?

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. I'm a little vague as to what "class" means in this setting...if it's SOCIAL or economic class, then yeah, since my parents were both teachers, I guess that means I was in the same class.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home. My mom is an avid reader.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. Like Steph, I bolded this even though I'm not convinced it's true. We too made use of the library - and before that the bookmobile - but I certainly grew up with lots of books.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent. It's all about Dr. Seuss, baby.
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. I thought I ws "too good" to take percussion lessons, but I did for a little while. Piano was solid, from 4th grade on.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
 I suppose it depends which "media" you follow, but for the most part, yeah: well-dressed, smart-ass über liberals are generally given a fair shake.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
 Oooh, this one's iffy: I did have a Hudson's card right out of high school, but I didn't turn 18 until that summer, so...maybe. Probably?
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs. I'll go ahead & highlight this one; I'm pretty sure it's not fair to claim that any private lessons I taught as an undergrad were paying for "college" when they mostly paid for "beer." Grad school was a different matter, but even then, my assistantship paid for almost everything, and that was college teaching experience on top of the salary.
16. Went to a private high school.
17. Went to summer camp. Blue Lake, baby! 5 years in a row, and the last year was in Europe. Paid for by my parents. Sheesh.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. No bolding here, but I do need to explain that family vacations were usually camping, so we either stayed in a big canvas tent or my dad's Starcraft pop-up. I'll let Gene Simmons have the hotels.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. Yeah, there wasn't a lot of thrift-store stuff for me. Most of my clothes during high school were purchased at Chess King. (*shudder!*)
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. Two, in fact. The first was a '74 Super Beetle, bright orange, that looked great but was rapidly rotting from the inside-out. The next REPLACED that one, and was a brand-new, right off the lot '86 Dodge Omni, 4-speed on the floor and 4/60 air conditioning. (4 windows down, 60 miles an hour.) My girlfriend Denise about had a shit-fit when they bought me that car, as she not only had to shell out a few hundred bucks for HER piece of shit car, but then she couldn't afford to keep it on the road because she couldn't afford the insurance. That was the first inkling I ever had about how "spoiled" I was...but, I never FELT spoiled, because my parents always taught me that such things weren't to be taken for granted. And, I proved that I understood by driving that damn Omni right through 111,000 miles and nearly 11 years.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. I'm bolding this one, but don't misunderstand: it's not like we lived in a place with oil canvases on the walls. Original "artwork" of the period (note: the 70s) included a chalk-on-felt painting of a tattered pirate ship, various needlepoint/cross-stitch pieces, and many examples of string art and latch hookery done by yours truly.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
25. You had your own room as a child. I should note that, as an only child, there wasn't much of an option.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. Tess & I rather disagree on this one: I figure it's just how you grew up. I had a phone in my room during those high-drama teen privacy years, so it was no big deal. She didn't, so she doesn't like the idea. Either way, it's liable to be moot since I'm sure by the time it comes around, Rozzle will just...I don't know, have a phone chip imbedded in her brain or something.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school. It actually wasn't in my bedroom, but there was a second TV in the basement where I hung out a lot, so I suppose that counts. I was the only one down there watching it, and it was hooked up to cable as well, so I guess it's the same idea.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. This strikes me as "privilege" only because it shows a cultural awareness; I think EVERYONE has the opportunity to go to museums - there are several that are free or "honorary donation" in the Lansing area - it's just that too few people put enough of a priority on going to them.
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. This was when I lived in Cass City, where the house we lived in had electric heat. That was supposed to be one of the "cures" for fuel oil heat coming out of the energy crunch of the 70s, but of course it mostly backfired when electricity went out of sight in the 80s. It made for an interesting house - no furnace of any kind - but each room had its own individual thermostat, and mom was ADAMANT that when you weren't in the room (say, your bedroom), you turned the heat down. We mostly heated the downstairs with a fireplace with an inserted catalytic converter. And, I chopped a LOT of wood in the fall.

Like Steph before me, I don't generally think of myself as either terribly privileged OR spoiled. I realize that I've been given a lot, but I've also been raised to assume that, having been given something once (like a car), it's not likely to happen again, and that I need to take good care of whatever it is. So, I learned good rules along the way, but looking back over this list I realize that there must be millions of people just in this country alone who could only highlight a handful of the items. If that. If you're so inclined, consider yourself tagged for this meme.


Blogger L*I*S*A said...

I'm going to have to do this little tagaroo for myself.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

The more I look at it, the more I think It's kind of a weird meme. It assumes a bunch of things, like that you would have both a mom and dad and that you would live in a place where owning a single-family home was a mark of privilege (you could own a million-dollar apartment in Manhattan or a falling-down farmhouse in rural Kansas and the farmhouse would score more privilege on this meme, which seems screwy), and then there's nothing about what kind of food you ate or if you were every hungry or lived close to a decent grocery store, and then there's also nothing about one's own adulthood--it's just a measure of childhood privileges. Although I think it was designed for a college classroom, so I guess that makes some sense. Anyway, it's flawed, but still interesting to do, and interesting to read others' results. Glad you picked it up.

4:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home