Monday, April 9, 2012

Dance, bitch

My sister's high school is public, but they ask each student to donate $500 each year as a minimum. Plus they also ask for studio donations. Do you know how many pairs of pointe shoes Alex goes through a year? They cost about $75 a pair. Plus the tape, ribbon, tights and leotards. We spend over $500 a year on all that. My deal with Alex is that she has to buy every other pair of pointe shoes she needs, whether it's because they've fallen apart or she's grown out of them. Sometimes Josh hires Al to do his laundry, and he pays her in toes shoes. She hides this from me, so I pretend not to notice it's going on. In the olden days we used to buy the cheap dance stuff from like, Target, but once Alex started dancing for school and having to wash everything after each wear, we saw the stuff fall apart. So we buy the good quality stuff, Alex does laundry more often than the rest of us, and she is not allowed to lose anything on penalty of death.

Needless to say, we do not donate to high school. Alex is ... comfortable in our poorness. She is steeped in this environment of starving artists and thinks it's romantic or something. So she feels no shame at all in using coupons, in finding deals, and in finding out the $500 is only a suggested donation. Alex did want to donate to the studio though, probably because she is holding onto a wobbly barre and knows the guy who comes to fix it, making the need for that type of money more real to her.

Lately Al's been telling me each time someone at school asks if her family's donated yet, or mentions someone else having donated in front of her. I think she is starting to feel bad. On Friday we were at Josh's parent's house, getting ready to start Passover. It's hard to be sure whether or not she planned it this way, but while we were in the room with just Laurie, Alex told me her plan was to spend spring break dancing on the corner with a friend, to get tips, to use the tips for toe shoes.

Laurie got really upset when Alex said that, and walked out. She missed me telling Alex to leave the hawking for money to the people who have no other options, and to instead get more babysitting jobs to save money. It was like a two minute talk, and then over. Al comes up with ideas all the time, and we're forever shooting them down. When we walked out Josh's bedroom door was closed and I could hear angry whispers.

I wasn't sure what was going on until Josh told me. Laurie was upset that we didn't ask her, because apparently she is an "avid supporter of the arts." You know, for people so rich, they sure have a lot of money angst. Their go-to for showing their love is to throw down money a lot of times. The studio donation isn't even a requirement. Sometimes it's exhausting.


Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

People are weird about money, even people who have money.

You said that their form of showing love is to throw money at stuff.

Might Josh's parents feel that you are rejecting them and their way of showing they care when you won't take money from them, or ask for it when they think you need it?

Anonymous said...

It really annoys me to read about your lack of money for EDUCATION purposes--dancing on a corner for money? REALLY?? when there is a 9/11 Victims Compsensation Fund for children. Why are you not getting help for expenses such as this??? I can't imagine that a social worker has not clued you in to something like this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with lisa. It goes both ways. It's probably just as frustrating (exhausting) for them to have to accept your attitude about money as it is for you to accept theirs.

I'm not suggesting there's a right and a wrong here. On the contrary, it's clear to see that it is hard work understanding one another's points of view.