Raising a Child in Middle-class America

$250,000.

That’s the cost of raising a middle class kid these days, according to a figure I read a few days ago.

A quarter million.

A little simple math: five equals $1.25 million.

Or, a little more simple math: that’s $50,000 a year for twenty-five years.

Dang.

That’s more than my annual salary has been for most of my adult life.

So, a few thoughts.

First, no wonder debt is a way of life for most Americans, eh?

Second, this scenario kind of encourages me to live more simply–or at least to want to.  What does “middle class kid” even mean?  A kid who follows all the latest technological trends?  A kid who’s just got to have the latest iPhone, simply because all his friends have one?  A kid who’s more concerned about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s breakup than she is about her own mom and dad’s relationship?  A kid who thinks name brands and straight teeth will make him a more confident and secure person?  A kid who has no appreciation for history because, hey, everything I could ever want is a product of right now?  A kid who buys into the capitalistic suggestion that the more you spend on something the happier you will be?  A kid who . . . well, you get the picture.

And it gets me thinking.  So much of what constitutes middle-class American life is just so much fluff!  Can’t we cut some corners?  Somewhere?  Isn’t there a way to raise a kid in middle-class America for, say, half that $250,000 mark; and still provide her with adequate education and culture and generally good broughtupsy to make an upstanding citizen in tomorrow’s society?

Then my mind goes to really strange places.  Like to Ovid.  You know Ovid, the classical author who wrote poetry in the time of Augustus Caesar?  Because I think, why can’t middle-class American kids take on cheap hobbies, like writing books instead of gaming?  Ovid wrote poems.  Books and books of them.

But then I remember, oh yeah, Ovid got into trouble for writing books: he published a poem, apparently, that the emperor didn’t like; a poem, apparently, that led to his exile onto an island in the middle of the Black Sea.

Here is a picture from that island, Tomis.

Tomis

Okay.  So it was exile, sure.  There was supposed to be some kind of humiliation in that, I suppose.  But, c’mon!  How bad could it have been?  Alone.  On an island.  Provided for by the emperor’s own hand.  For the rest of his life.  And able to write poetry without interruption.  Unless a muse perchance stopped by.  For tea and, um, conversation, of course.

I bet my muse and I could raise our children quite happily and contentedly on our own island for the rest of our lives, lost to the busy, stress-filled, worrisome, frenetic pace of middle-class America; in the complexities of poetry, music, tea, and, of course, conversation.  For a whole lot cheaper than $250,000 per child too!

Ah, sweet exile.

But I said “a few thoughts.”  So to round out the few, third, back to the reality of middle-class America, my kids are awesome (and so is my muse); I can’t think of a better reason to go into debt.

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