Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Money, Money, Money...

... must be funny in a rich man's world.

Well, even Abba can't make me smile today.

If I had to look at my relationship with Goddess Lakshmi, I'd say she's been around, benevolent, but we haven't really gotten to know each other. I remember, even as a child, I'd ask for Goddess Saraswati's blessings first, even though my mum would says that Lakshmi only 'comes' to those who seek her. It was never money I asked for, it was always, always and irritatingly always, wisdom. Make me wise, I'd say, ever since I was six I think. 22 years later, I've been put face to face with the inescapable fact: what I know versus what I need are two completely different equations.

Nino's school admissions are on: and we've several options lined up, all the lesser of the evils that are home to the school system in my city. I've considered boards, teachers, first-hand experiences, my gut instinct, other people's freely doled out wisdom - everything - but for the fees. For long, I've been torn between knowing what can make my son happy and make him bloom, versus the fears (some mine, and mostly fed by others) of 'elite' groups, Nino growing up with complexes, about us having just one car in a 'social group' where every family has an obscene number of cars for itself, yadda, yadda, yadda. I've always believed that my socialist attitude to life would be helpful in shielding Nino from the trappings of economic status, but I've been told again, and again, that I'm not being entirely practical in my outlook.

The better of the schools are also expensive and my dad often points out that I went to a regular state board school and did pretty well for myself. And I'd always counter-argue that if we removed fees out of the equation, we'd still choose a particular school because it was so good for Nino. So why should lack of money prohibit me from giving my son the kind of education I want him to have? Because, dad reasons, there's no guarantee the brochure will be as good in real life. Be practical, he said. That's one refrain I've heard my entire life - I guess it is the one virtue I've missed out on entirely.

Today, I've been handed a fee slip for a possible admission that will break my already weakened financial plan. As I frantically thought this morning of what I'll borrow from whom, perhaps sell all those silly gold coins that I received in the wedding, I've been feeling like someone socked me in my gut. There's a voice in my head that says impractical idealistic fool, and I can't help the anger that stems from within me, for me. For all the books I keep spending money on. For being completely clueless when it comes to money, planning, saving.... Perhaps it is true: they were right about me. And yet, there is also this voice that asks me why would I mind being a fool for my son? He may not need it, or like I'm always told, he will not know the difference, and yet...

My childhood was filled with stories of heroism, of people who were brave and foolhardy who went forth to fight for what they believed in. These stories features mothers and women too. In a way, perhaps, this will be a heroic battle on my part. I too am brave and foolhardy, so what if my fight is monetary in nature.

I don't know if this time around I'll say 'Buddhi' before saying 'Lakshmi' when I pray, as I invariably do when I think of what I truly want from the Almighty, but I hope the lotus-wielding goddess is listening: I do want her too.


Anonymous said...

True, we want the best for our loved ones, and money is the last thing on our minds. Then it comes and makes itself the most important thing!

I too am very bad with money planning, saving etc. I haven't even filed lats year's returns.

Wish you loads of wisdom and good fortune to be able to skilfully give Nino the best!

Best wishes, Anjali

Swati said...

My answer to the admonition to be practical always was, that depends on what you want to practice. Yet, I fear that by the time I am in my parents' position, I will be using the same old argument with my kid... And don't I wish we had saved up, learnt financial wisdom, invested when we had money to spare, instead of living like there was no tomorrow. Youth sees only its own boundless possibilities, unacquainted as it is with accidents and misfortunes and mishaps.

You may continue asking for buddhi; I will ask for riches for you.

ChoxBox said...

N's Mom: Here's some practical advice then, also doled out for free ;)
Teach at the expensive school. They usually reduce the fee for your kids hugely if you do that. A friend is doing just that.

sher khan said...

Hi... have you looked at the cheaper schools? see, in the end wat nino learns will be mostly from what his parents say/do. So, does an elite school really matter?
We had taken on a housing loan foolishly thinking along the same lines that you are thinking right now. three years later I can definitely tell you that it was not the best decision! My new motto is spend within your means!
And as always we parents will anyways agonize over every decision that we take!
Weigh the head and heart's words well :-)

Atmapreeta said...

Pray to Saraswati, Laxmi will follow, I tell my kid.

The less strict a school is, the healthier our kids will remain, I believe. I have put mine in a small, cheap school where they don't fret about his shoes and socks, or his spellings, where they go on long long trips, where they don't beat the kids, the headmistress calls them 'my son', where they sing and dance a lot. And, they are not even "alternative," so they don't take themselves seriously, and neither do they cost an earth. They just cost a few leaves. :)

Why did I chose this school? I did not. Pavan chose it himself, because his best friend studies there. A happy kid will make a happy adult. Simple.

Sands said...

I can so totally relate. We had to make that choice twice over with our kids. Chose the less expensive option 'coz eventually it all evens out. It is what we give to them that is most important, isn't it? At least that's how we've looked at it and the kids are doing just fine thus far(touch wood!!)

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Good luck with your choices.
We made that choice just few months back ... and I know its confusing / frustrating ...

Uttara said...

Lakshmi's blessings hsould not be necessary for things such as school admission...how sad that you and other parents should have to go through this. Praying that both goddesses manifest themselves for you.

Anonymous said...

I dont know how practical and useful it sounds, but you could count on me for some financial gyan.

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SBora said...

sorry for your frustrations...i am sure you will provide the best for Nino regardless of the choices. good luck with your decisions. this is hard especially when your child's well being is involved.
nino is a bright child (my absolute conclusion from your posts on him) and he will do well whereever he is. and with a mom like you he is bound to go places. chin up!
happy new year!

Poppy said...

I don't know Nino's mom, I was in the same quandary too. In the end we chose a middling school, it wasn't even my second choice (it wasn't even really on my list) but the elite schools were unaffordable (and too far may I add) and the schools we wanted we didn't make it into.

The least I can say is that if our school choice is a mistake atleast it's not a financially costly mistake. End of day I would think it's more important for Nino to come home to a house free of tension over money than go to an elite school.

If I were you I would :
1. Save the money and put it into a college fund, he'll appreciate it more then than now. Now he won't even know what an elite school is and how much of a sacrifice you made for him.
2. Put him in a school which has kids of your background, he'll be happiest there.

Good luck, whatever you decide it will all work out in the end!


Happy 2010! I just stumbled upon your virtual chronicle and absolutely love your world view.

If you get a chance, swing by and say hello. I would love to hear about all your wants, musings, and distractions. Thank you darling and wonderful blog, I will be back regularly.


Spirited Seeker said...

Hey Nino's mum! You are there on my post.

nitya said...

many hugs to you too... Hope my superhero is doing well. I think of him often!