When our son was six and our daughter was two my family moved. We moved over the mountain from a place I will call Oz. You know the Oz of which I speak, just follow the yellow brick road. I lived there for twelve years and the â€˜keeping up with the Jones’ mentality and HOA’s were only a few of the reasons we left ten years ago. Some friends of ours had preceded us here to Clarke County and when I came out to visit them I felt like I had taken a step back in time. They joked that it was Virginia’s best kept secret, but to me it was no joke. People here actually looked you in the face and smiled as you passed them on the sidewalk, they even held doors for each other. Those niceties had faded from Oz long ago. Now in Oz you are lucky to get through the queue at the local coffee franchise without being blatantly ignored or sneered at, and the customers are even worse. One of the biggest reasons we wanted to move was because of our children. We wanted a life in a real community, to raise them in a less materialistic place with a less frenetic pace.
While there are wealthy families here, it isn’t as blatantly obvious as in Oz. There, it’s an in-your-face kind of obvious and they like it that way. Here it’s more of the landed gentry type. We have a friend here that wears a tweed jacket with the leather elbows and a tweed cap, AND IT TOTALLY SUITS HIM, but I digress. Our friends here are all different socioeconomic levels, some lower than us as well as many higher. So, our children have an honest-to-God perspective of what it’s like being a middle-class family, albeit on the lower side of that than a few years ago. I’ve told my kids that even if we were rich they still wouldn’t get all they ask for because I feel that if you are handed everything, you appreciate very little.
So, yesterday, my son brought up the subject of his getting a car and as he’s speaking to me I see insurance premiums of astronomical proportions dancing through my head, not to mention deer and cows bounding across the road like some sort of Disney horror movie. As I pull my attention back to my son and the actual words coming out of his mouth, I hear him say that he wants to get a job to pay for his insurance and if he pays for half of his (used) car, would we please pay for half and all manner of mature and responsible things. Suddenly I’m hearing the choir music that accompanies good-parenting moments for meâ€¦. ok, and the times my husband says, “You’re right.” (I’m sorry, I was raised in the sixties and those cartoons left their mark). Seriously though, I was proud him for being so responsible and I told him so. I couldn’t help but wonder if this conversation would be the same if all those years ago we hadn’t moved away from the land of entitlement and all things glittery. Then I told him, we can talk about it further AFTER you are a licensed driver and I love you dearly but I’m not taking you to DMV for the third time for your learner’s, it’s your dad’s turn.