I grew up rich. That's just the long and the short of it. As a young child my family lived in rather diminished conditions but at the tender age of eleven we moved into the lap of luxury and have enjoyed the fruits thereof ever since.
Some days ago a friend and I sat chatting and the conversation turned toward some rather stressful events in my life. This well meaning, kind person lightly suggested that I move out of my present small home and into an eight thousand square foot mansion on three acres in the foothills that could be at my disposal if I needed it, further suggesting that my children could join the ranks of ritzy, rich kids in that area and grow up learning Broadway show tunes from various role models there.
Poor soul. He didn't know what he was asking.
Allow me to describe the haven my little ones currently call "school". We find standing at the head a principal by the name of Dr. Abrams. I have often wondered why an amazing educator like that spends his days in a public school when he would be the toast of the town in any pedagogical circle he chose. Far be it from me to bring that to his attention, of course. I will simply close my silly mouth and prove grateful that my children have him. In a world where traditional values are coming unglued, Dr. Abrams fearlessly dares to mention God within those walls, teaching American history and the virtues that made our country great. He instills integrity, respect, decency and the like in his little charges, and unlike any principal I have ever seen, knows each child by name and gets to know their circumstances to a surprising degree.
Arizona is one of the worst states in the Union in terms of bullying. My wealthy elementary school was rife with it. One lesson the teachers never instilled but I learned exceptionally well was that the brand of your jeans mattered. At least, it mattered in the foothills. It doesn't matter here. Bullying isn't tolerated in Ironwood Elementary. We work together as a team and I often see parents who do not know one another greet each other with a smile. Fathers often come to school as WatchDogs and help provide the direction and discipline children need in order to grow up well and happily. Our parents volunteer more than in most elementary schools, and teachers my children had two years ago will often still greet them enthusiastically and by name in the halls.
Leave an oasis of peace, stability, morality and strength for a bully ridden, money dripping, cold, unfeeling hole of misery? I think not. I have traveled through Europe and the Holy Land, I have studied various languages, I hold a degree in English Education, I enjoy attending a good opera when time permits, I can quote Shakespeare in my sleep and I do not need any other adult to teach my children how to appreciate The Sound of Music and Camelot. And having enjoyed first class treatment all over Meso America, including the exquisite ruins and beaches near Cancun has taught me that a mansion and a social status isn't enough to sacrifice the greater things in life, because for all the fun it can offer, there are some things that money just can't buy.