Counting Our Blessings

by

I saw this on someone else’s blog and thought it was interesting. The below are some measures of relative privilege. I have bolded the ones that apply to me. See how many apply to you.

  1. Father went to college.
  2. Father finished college.
  3. Mother went to college.
  4. Mother finished college.
  5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
  6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
  7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
  8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
  9. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
  10. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
  11. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
  12. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
  13. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
  14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
  15. Went to a private high school.
  16. Went to summer camp.
  17. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
  18. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.
  19. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
  20. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
  21. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
  22. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
  23. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
  24. You had your own room as a child.
  25. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
  26. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
  27. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
  28. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
  29. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
  30. Went on a cruise with your family.
  31. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
  32. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.
  33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries while you were growing up.
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8 Responses to “Counting Our Blessings”

  1. urbino Says:

    1. Father went to college.
    2. Father finished college.
    3. Mother went to college.
    4. Mother finished college.
    5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
    6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.*
    7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
    8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
    9. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
    10. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
    11. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
    12. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
    13. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
    14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
    15. Went to a private high school.*
    16. Went to summer camp.*
    17. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
    18. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.*
    19. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
    20. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
    21. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
    22. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
    23. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
    24. You had your own room as a child.
    25. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
    26. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
    27. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
    28. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
    29. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
    30. Went on a cruise with your family.
    31. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
    32. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.
    33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries while you were growing up.

    I’m going on the assumption that 9 & 10 are referring to music lessons. I mean, they can’t really mean lessons of any kind, can they? If you had a caregiver at all growing up, you got some kind of a lesson on something from time to time.

    * As is true of some others here, I grew up in a different world than the author of this list, I’m all but certain, so we’re speaking a different language on some of these things. On #6, basically my teachers and I (and others here) were all lower- verging on middle-class. On 15 & 16, I’m pretty sure the school and camp I attended bore little if any similarity to what the list’s author meant by those terms. On 18, family vacations were a good deal less than yearly and lasted two days and the night in between, so I’m not sure about that one, either.

    All that said, I hope I’m not ungrateful for the many wonderful things about my childhood, which doubtless put me in the top few percent of the world.

  2. captmidknight Says:

    Here’s my list. Since I haven’t figured out how to do bold face, I’ll use an “*” to show which ones fit me. My case is probably at least a generation earlier than most of yours, since they all seem to concern things that happened by the time you finished college. This past October, I had my 40th college class reunion. Still, coming from a small town in Arkansas and from a family of very modest means, I got more than I expected, even though I already knew how blessed I’ve been.

    1. Father went to college.
    2. Father finished college.
    3. Mother went to college.
    4. Mother finished college.
    5. *Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
    6. *Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
    7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
    8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
    9. *Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
    10. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
    11. *The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
    12. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
    13. *Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
    14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
    15. Went to a private high school.
    16. *Went to summer camp.
    17. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
    18. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.
    19. *Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
    20. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
    21. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
    22. *You and your family lived in a single-family house.
    23. *Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
    24. *You had your own room as a child.
    25. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
    26. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
    27. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
    28. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
    29. *Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
    30. Went on a cruise with your family.
    31. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
    32. *You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.
    33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries while you were growing up.

    A few caveats:
    #12 As far as I know, nobody in my family – or anybody I knew – had a credit card when I turned 18, but that was in April,1963 and JFK was still president.
    #20 My parents did buy me my first car, but my dad got it from a lady at church. It was a 1953 Chevy which I drove for two years and my dad then sold for $85. I therefore feel justified in calling it a “hand me down.”
    # 19 & 24 I lucked out there, being an only child.

    Just to see how much things have changed in my own family, I went through the list again – this time for my son, who turns 38 today. I graduated from college in 1967. He graduated in 1992. I got 12 out of 33. He got 29 out of 33. I guess that means that things have changed a lot in one generation, or that he was spoiled rotten – or some of both.

    Great post.

  3. alsturgeon Says:

    I think you spoiled him rotten, Cap’n. I’m your son’s age, and I got 9 (or 10) out of 33!

    I’m not sure how to answer #6 (same teachers as Juvenal) – I’m sure my family had less than my teachers, but could not have been substantially less.

    9, 11, 15, 16, 20, 22, 25, 27, 32 are all mine.

    It took me quite a while, however, to learn that I grew up poor, but not in poverty (as I define both words). I never knew the feeling of not having what I needed (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education). But we didn’t have much.

    We rented a 2br/1ba house with a window unit for air and 1 gas stove for heat. I shared a bedroom with my sister 11 yrs older than me until she left for college. I found a W-2 from my dad after his death from 1977 where he made about 11k/year working full-time. My mom started working that year and made 5 or 6 thousand bucks. My dad was a butcher, and he was laid off in the early 80s cuz he was making too much money – they could hire someone younger than him (he was in his 60s then) for much less.

    Still, I had piano lessons once. They sent me to a private school somehow. By high school, I ended up with a black/white tv in my room. My parents bought me a used Mercury Lynx when I turned 16. I remember our getting a VCR when I was in high school, but we never had a microwave. Never had a shower – just a bathtub.

    I’m kind of proud of all this in some warped way. Not that we had it tough. I think the way I grew up was good for me.

    My kids have had way too much stuff I think. Giving your kids everything you never could have is probably a bad deal. And probably selfishly motivated (much of the time).

    Thanks for posting this, Miranda.

  4. michaellasley Says:

    Great list, Miranda.

    I scored a 16, I think. Although I forgot by the time I got to the end. But it was either 16 or 17 or 15. Ridiculously high, whichever it was. (Sadly, I went back twice and redid it, and I kept getting confused about what number I ended up with….I should write things down.)

    Did the site you got this from give an average answer for Americans? Just curious.

  5. urbino Says:

    To hear my parents tell it, btw, the one indicator that really matters isn’t even on this list:

    34. You never had to chop or pick cotton.

    If this applies to you, your life is a wonderland.

  6. michaellasley Says:

    I’ve chopped many an acre. I actually kind of liked it — although, I always chopped with my grandpa, and he always told stories about life when he was growing up. So it wasn’t really work for me.

    Picking…never done it seriously. Although I’ve tried it before. That would have been a HORRIBLE job. Bent over all day. It cuts your hands to pieces. And it’d be one of those jobs where it seemed like you were never getting anywhere. Plus, the pay would have been terrible or non-existent. That’d’ve sucked.

  7. urbino Says:

    I don’t think the folks did it for pay; more in the “chores” category.

    I’ve never done either, but picking does seem hellish. Don’t tell my folks I admitted that, though.

  8. Whitney Says:

    I chopped cotton, too. I don’t think many people would believe that. Granted, I only did it once or twice, because my mom thought it was horrible to make us do it…although my dad couldn’t afford to hire anyone. Thankfully, my then 8 year old brother LOVED it. He’s still a farmer.

    My grandma & dad tell stories about the picking. Wow. I’m glad I didn’t do THAT.

    OK, so for the list.

    Those that apply to me: 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 16, 20, 22, 24, 33 = 10

    I am like Al. We were poor, but not in poverty. My grandmother owned our house, and my parents still live there. We always had food. But I remember my mom once crying because I asked her for $2 for the book fair and she didn’t have it.

    And, like Al, I take a weird kind of pride in it all. We learned to work hard and not take anything for granted. I look at my wonderland life now and realize I may not have been this person in this place if I’d had everything handed to me. And if we ever have kids, I don’t want to raise them like those kids who did, either.

    Oh, by the way, the reason #33 (galleries & museums) is checked for me is because all our trips were driving to stay with family, and we would stop at museums along the way because they were free. I still love museums and galleries!

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