I almost didn’t post this, as I feel as though everyone has exhausted the topic, but I’ll use it as an opportunity to reflect on what my parents have done for me throughout my life. I guess I’d fall into the category of the spoiled and pampered, but I suppose it depends from what angle you’re looking at it. Its not so much of a “list” as a narrative, so bear with me…if I had to cut it down to one sentence it’d be easy: until high school they paid for everything, in college they paid for moving expenses and visits home, and now they let me live in their house.
Before elementary school there was pre-K. My parents enrolled me in a private school at the age of 4 so that I could learn english. I have no idea what the tuition was. I was born in the US, but since my parents had come from another country their english was fairly broken. My dad had a full-time job, and my mother worked part-time and her job had a very flexible schedule to enable her to spend as much time with us as possible.
I went to a public elementary school, so there was no tuition. However they provided shelter of course, as well as fed me. My mother enjoyed sewing, so I remember her making a lot of the clothes we wore on the weekends. We wore uniforms to school.
Some of my earliest memories of resentment came from comparing myself with my sister. My sister got tennis lessons, I didn’t get lessons….only a racket, but since I didn’t know how to play I never used it. She later took “modeling” classes. While I would’ve been terrified even with the thought, I couldn’t help but notice (I was extremely shy and about 7) that no one asked if I wanted to do it too.
I took dance classes later on, however my mom “paid” for them by getting a part-time job at the studio. The owner was her friend and so we danced for free, and my mom was paid as well.
I recall she used her part time jobs to pay for most of our things. We’d go shopping (on sale, of course), she bought us books (I had way too many “Baby Sitters Little Sister” books, while my sister had a huge collection of Baby Sitters and Sweet Valley High books). We ate fast food when we went to the mall (Taco Bell used to be so much cheaper!), and she just indulged us in little ways like that.
Again, I went to a public school. However I joined the band. This included dues (maybe $20?), mouthpiece for my instrument (rental was provided by the school), as well as fieldtrips and dues for other clubs. I don’t recall how much these things cost, but they weren’t too out of line.
Here’s where I got expensive. I was in band for my first two years, and we went on all sorts of trips. I remember they cost from $300-$600 each, and we went on at least two each year. Ouch. My mom was still only working part-time, and from what I recall she paid for all of these. Or maybe not, but I just remember only going to her to ask for the money. One thing to keep in mind is that for the previous 4 years she also paid for my sister’s band trips. For a few months I was also taking private lessons on my instrument. Again, I have no clue how much those cost, but I’m sure it was a couple hundred a month.
Once I left the band I still participated in clubs and activities. $20 here and there added up. We didn’t go on any field trips, but come senior year she paid for all of the dances, GradNite, prom (well, she made the dresses and my date paid for the tickets), and homecoming. I know that wasn’t cheap, but at least we saved money by having my dresses homemade….besides, they looked better than the storebought ones at less than 1/3 of the price. (I’m not kidding!)
My parents gave me lunch money each week, but I had a “secret” (or not-so-secret) arrangement with my mom. My dad would give me $10, but my mom would buy the supplies to prepare sandwiches for me to eat at school. I would take the $10 and save it for when I went out with friends. I hated asking my parents for money when I went out, so that eliminated the need. They’d offer me money, $20 now and then, but even when I used it I made sure to have change leftover to return to them. (They’d usually just tell me to keep it for the next time.) That being said, I didn’t go out with my friends that much….many of us had “limited funding”.
I went into college understanding that I was going to pay for my tuition, room and board. There was no doubt in my mind. However I then heard about Plus Loans. Everyone’s parents had those! (From what I’d heard). So when we applied and my mother’s credit was denied I was pretty mad. I was very bitter, and wondered “why me….everyone else’s parents have great credit! I had to be born into poor credit”. Maybe not in so many words, but those were my general feelings. However I got unsubsidized loans and I got on with my life.
The next year I had to apply for the same Plus Loan again. Apparently I couldn’t just “waive” my right to a Plus Loan before I got the unsubsidized ones. This time, to our surprise, my mom was approved. This time, to my surprise, I was disappointed. I had gotten so used to the idea that I was going to pay for my loans myself….I was proud of it. But now there was no way around it (as far as my mom was concerned and as far as I knew). She took the loan, and did the same the following year. If I had a surplus during a semester I’d write her a check to cover the amount of her loan, but she still had a balance most of the time. She won’t tell me what that balance now is. (I’m considering breaking into her mail to find out!! lol)
While I was in school I paid for my food and any junk I wanted to buy, but my parents still paid for everything when I’d come home for the holidays, including the plane tickets. Definitely not cheap. ($600 my first year and about $400 every other year). Lets not forget that they would rent a van every year to help me move into and out of my dorms (our cars wouldn’t have made it on the 1k mile trip, plus they were too small for my junk.)
Today I live at home with my parents. While I don’t pay rent, my dad finally is letting me pay him something towards the house ($300). I buy groceries whenever I find we need something, but my mom also buys food so I inevitably end up eating some of “theirs”. I pay for my car and always have (I didn’t drive until I graduated college), as well as the insurance, gas, and tolls. I now pay for my cellphone, which they had previously paid for during my 4 years in college. Every once in a while (if the moon and stars are aligned right) they let me treat them for dinner or lunch…but its hard to get them to willingly accept! Needless to say, my sister and I have gotten better at intercepting the bill.
They’re relatively proud people, and they’ve always said that while they have the money to they’ll pay for things. So its always made me feel like a selfish brat when my mom has looked at me in the past and said that she always wished they’d been able to pay for school, but instead they’ve had to be happy with just doing what they can.
I don’t have any expectations in the future from my parents. For me, it would be enough that they become more financially stable. I plan on moving by later this year, so I will no longer be leeching off of them. As for any wedding, they did not contribute to my sister’s (other than my mom making the dresses for the bridesmaids) and much less will they contribute to mine. As I’ve mentioned before, if there is a wedding chances are I will either be eloping or it will be minimal. There are no downpayment gifts in my future either, and I’m ok with that. The most I could bring myself to expect is the occasional spoiling of their unborn grandchildren. (And I’d like it if my mother left me the piano, although I feel a bit morbid to be thinking about that now.)
I know there are plenty of people that will say I’ve been spoiled by living with my parents these past two and a half years….and maybe they’re right. I’m pretty defensive about it, mostly because I agree to a certain extent…I feel like a bum. But I know I wouldn’t be living here if my parents didn’t want me here.
In the past I was pretty resentful of the situation I felt I had been put into. I remember as a kid I was resentful of my sister: first because of the tennis lessons, then the modeling, then she got a pair of emerald earrings as a reward for being in the science fair….yet years later after all my awards and accomplishments in school I never got anything. Later when my sister turned 15 she received a diamond ring, and when she turned 17 she received matching diamond earrings. I didn’t get any of that. I thought they had forgotten about me. Nevermind the fact that when I was going through those times my parents were at various stages of being unemployed….first my dad, then my mom….I didn’t realize that though.
When I got to college I was mad at the fact that my mom had bad credit. I was mad that my parents were in debt….nevermind that I didn’t help at all with my “necessary expenses” in high school and the strain that I unknowingly put on them with my activities. I also conveniently ignored the fact that they helped me move every year, paid for all my plane tickets, paid my cellphone, and who knows what else.
While we’ve never been anywhere close to rich I can’t deny the fact that my parents have done and continue to do a lot for me. I’ve had a lot of experiences that while they weren’t the extravagant ones I wished I was having at the time, they were a heck of a lot more than many people get to do.
So….what’ve you received from your parents?