I’m sure by now we’ve all heard about the infamous “College Admissions Scandal,” but if you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, let me fill you in. Over thirty parents, thus far, have been accused of collectively paying $25 million in bribes to guarantee their children’s acceptance to elite colleges and universities across the nation. Now as a post-college graduate who had to work her ass off to get into college (and grad school), I have a few things I need to get off my chest about all of this, but I can almost guarantee it’s not what you’re thinking…
How far is too far when it comes to your kids? To be completely honest, I don’t really have an answer. I’d like to say, “my limit is anything that goes against my morals and values,” but if I’m keeping it all the way real, boundaries and limits get blurred when it comes down to what I would or wouldn’t do for my child.
True Story, for my daughter’s 4th birthday we took a family trip to what was supposed to be the happiest place on earth, except it wasn’t. I mean this trip sucked! The lines were never-ending, the sun was assaulting us (in the middle of February) and just about every over-priced toy we bought broke. My daughter was over it and so were the rest of us. Oh, but trust and believe we were not leaving the park any time soon, Disneyland tickets are not cheap!
After fighting our way through the crowds, my daughter finally spotted the one ride that sparked this whole excursion to Southern California in the first place. So, there we were in line once again… for over an hour… only to be turned away because she was 2 inches too short. Oh, hell no! By this time my daughter was in full on tears and my head began to spin just like Linda Blair’s scene in The Exorcist. In all fairness, I attempted to schmooze the ride attendant and when that didn’t work, I went into full fledge beast mode! After spewing a few choice words (under my breath of course), we decided to move it along. That’s when Aniyah’s night-in-shining armor threw out the brilliant idea that we make her taller.
Me: Babe that’s genius! I’ll throw her hair up in a high bun!
Him: They measure from the forehead.
Me: Eye roll* Ok smart guy well besides having her undergo a leg-lengthening procedure that short men do to extend their limbs, what other ideas do you have?
Him: Let’s take her socks off, roll them up and put them in her shoes.
Me: I always knew you were a smart guy.
We executed the plan, threatened the kids not to say a word and hopped our happy hips back in line. By the time we made our way back to the front, it was as if God himself had set it all up for us. There was a new worker and she measured just above the height requirement. All I kept saying to myself was, Won’t He Do it! Now trust me when I say, at the time of this scheme, I was not thinking about any of the other kids who were turned away because they were too short, nor was I thinking about the poor example we were setting as parents. Of course, I had safety concerns, but salvaging the day trumped everything and all in all, it was worth the risk; I mean she still talks about that epic Cars ride to this day!
I’ll venture to guess that most would say this walk on the wild side at Disneyland demonstrates poor judgment, but nowhere near the same level as Aunt Becky’s over-privileged senseless crime. Now what about Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio or Tanya McDowell of Bridgeport, CT who were both sentenced to jail for sending their children to better schools outside of their home districts? Are their actions justified? I have yet to find one mother who disagrees with the actions taken by these moms to secure the educational success of their children. So why then do we go so hard on Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman? I believe it’s because we tend to validate certain acts that we sympathize with; whereas when we don’t relate to something we default to condemnation.
Now, before we start screaming about how different the circumstances are between the underprivileged mothers and those who could afford to pay a substantial amount of money in bribes, let’s take a moment to look at intent versus impact when analyzing the College Admissions Debacle. I do not know Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman or any of the other accused mothers, but I do know what it feels like to have your mommy lenses on. It’s tunnel vision where nothing matters except for ensuring the best interest of your cub and come hell or high water, Momma Bear is going to see the mission through. Please understand, I am not excusing the entitled acts of the wealthy who continue to implore nepotism and systematic oppression while maintaining the status quo of denying fair opportunities to people of lesser means. I’m simply stating that as mothers we will do anything to ensure the success of our offspring, even if it means ignoring or placing the needs of all others to the side. Now, have I at times gone too far?
Absolutely, but who hasn’t when it comes to their kids? Think about it, each year working moms, just like myself, spend thousands of dollars on their children (an estimated $14,000 according to a study done in 2017 by The Department of Agriculture) and yet we don’t even bat an eye at the global poverty epidemic facing our world. The irony is, we are quick to shame Aunt Becky for paying to get her daughters into college, but then we’ll turn around and tune in to view other moms pimp their daughters to Black rappers and athletes and watch them make a fortune. But, hey no one’s nailing Kris to a cross so why should I? The moms involved in this scandal made a sacrifice to pay for their children’s education.
Did their actions further the disparity gap in our nation? Who’s to say? We don’t know who would or would not have been admitted in their place. Just some food for thought…Let’s dive a little deeper shall we? How many collegiate athletes do you know (or have heard about) that received “scholarships” that resemble the back-door deals made by William Rick Singer? Do we look the other way because these bribes typically benefit the disenfranchised? Better yet, how many of the parents of collegiate-athletes accepted offers that led to the admission of their children?
Whether you agree or not with the stance of momentarily removing the impact of the situation and focusing exclusively on the intent, allow room for introspect. Take a moment to consider all you would do for your child, if provided the resources and opportunity to help make their lives a little easier. Mothers are constantly bartering what we know to be true, knowledge, with our wisdom, the ability to apply that truth. Just like I knew it was wrong to sneak my daughter on that ride, I’m sure the mothers who used false addresses to get their children in better schools knew what they were doing. Further, there’s no convincing me that Aunt Becky didn’t know she was dead wrong for paying a whole bunch of money to get her ungrateful kids into college, but whether our actions are right, justified or wrong we do them for the sake of our kids.
I do believe that the parents in the college admissions scandal had the best of intentions for their children and were attempting to maximize their children’s potential. But like the saying goes, “the pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions.” So, no matter how well-intentioned we are, there is always an impact that we must own. I’m not the judge or jury in this case, nor do I have a heaven or a hell to place these people in, but I do have mommy lenses and empathy for moms, who like me, struggle trying to find the balance between intent and impact.
Thanks for reading. I hope this stretched your perspective and sparked some interesting dialogue about the lengths we will go to for our kids. Let me know your thoughts! How far is too far for you?
Mommi Pamela P.