There aren't many things that I'm passionate about.
I believe that adjective applies to me with regards to this lightly-read blog and my favorite baseball team, but in the grand scheme, I'm not passionate about a lot of things I'm "supposed" to be passionate about. For example, the national political discourse has gotten so toxically divisive, that I only come up for air
And, I assure you, there's no passion in pushing papers for ten hours a day.
Of course, I am passionate about my family.
I hit the marital lottery with Mrs. Bootleg and when it comes to our son, Jalen, we'll do anything for him. But, when is "anything" actually not enough?
Y'see, I used to be passionate about the public school versus private school debate.
I wanted my son to get the best education possible, but I also wanted to expose him to different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences through the classroom. For years – hell, decades – I've believed the public school system to be the place to achieve these goals. In truth, I still believe this…so, why is my son finishing up a three year run at a private preschool/kindergarten and about to start first grade in another private school this fall?
Why am I so conflicted about this?
Is it because my six-year-old son has developed a sense of self-awareness that I didn't realize until I was at least ten years older?
How should I have reacted the first time Jalen noticed he was the only African-American in his class? How do I tell him to get used to it, if we choose to continue his private education? I was "the only Black kid in class" pretty much from K-12 and while it makes for a tired punchline, it also gets into your head. I was years removed from high school before I resolved my own absence of identity.
Is it because many of my friends from high school and college went on to become public school teachers?
I know it sounds ridiculous and probably is ridiculous, but I always feel like I'm pissing on my friends' chosen profession whenever I answer the "Where does Jalen go to school?" question in mixed company. Many of these people know how strident I once was on my preference for public schools, so in addition to insulting them, I'm also a hypocrite. Awesome.
Is it because I think I'm better than you?
Please. But, I don't want you to think I think that. If I may share a maudlin moment: Mrs. Bootleg and I both grew up poor, put ourselves through college and busted our asses to have the little bit that a decent household income can procure in San Diego County. In many ways, it's the same unexceptional existence led by anyone else. But, private schools are stereotypically associated with prestige, pretension and Jo Polniaczek. And, if back-to-back Writer of the Year awards didn't turn me into an elitist prick, nothing will.
We love Jalen's school. Last week, J was at the dinner table rattling off countries in South America. Last month, he "directed" a school play about the life of Martin Luther King (and, that's a whole other blog post, y'all…) This spring, he'll give a kindergarten graduation speech that is sure to topple the top two bawling moments of my life (#1: October 15, 1988 and #2: the day Jalen was born…in that order). Just three moments from three years at his school.
Private, public moments.