I think I get it now.
All these decades later I finally understand why my parents did what they did.
They didn’t want to embarrass me.
Why else would they work steady, occasionally soul-sucking, jobs to pay for the cost of my upbringing and education rather than finding a way to make millions of dollars to make my life easier? Prettier. Effortless.
In what can only be described as keen parent prescience, they must have known that if they were fabulously wealthy they would one day be tempted to bribe university officials, tutors and coaches into pulling strings to get me into the school of my choice.
Like the parents busted this week by the FBI for fraud and bribery in a university admissions scam, my parents loved me and wanted to provide opportunities to me that would help me succeed.
Unlike the indicted financiers, actresses, clothing designers and sickeningly rich, however, my parents didn’t have the financial means, or the chutzpah, to break laws to accomplish their goals.
Thank goodness they instead remained middle class and inoculated me against “affluenza,” a disorder discovered by defense attorneys for the 16-year-old child of wealthy parents who killed four people while driving under the influence in 2013. (The kid’s legal team argued, at one point, that his parent’s wealth left him unable to distinguish right from wrong.)
If my parents were rolling in so much money they could throw it around at problems and obstacles, surely they would do whatever it takes to get me ahead in life, no? Wouldn’t most parents?
Probably not, otherwise we’d have a lot more moms and dads in jails and prisons rather that PTA meetings and after-school games.
It’s a safe bet that most parents, regardless of social and economic status, want their progeny to do well in life. Sacrifices are made, money is spent and encouragement is provided to see to it that the kids can succeed. Some of those parents do cross a line in providing for their offspring.
Undoubtedly there are incarcerated fathers who told themselves and a judge they sold drugs to provide for their kids. Moms may have bounced checks or committed fraud to buy food or enroll their children in a better school district. When caught, they tend to do time and aren’t lucky enough to get away with only a slap on the wrist.
The admissions scam reminds us that there are two worlds in which we live, the one in which people work hard to get by and pass along opportunities to the people who come after, and the world in which money is not an issue and it’s used to make problems disappear.
In theory there is one justice system between these two worlds but the reality is that too has its distinctions. No doubt these parents will enlist the sort of defense their money can buy. And while their kids may be a little embarrassed by the unwanted attention, in the end mom and dad’s money will bail the family out.