My kid’s school made a huge boo-boo. Not the end of the world. All people and organizations will make some of these now and then. I was hoping the school would apologize, offer a handful of words about where it flopped and how. That’s the fastest way to rebuild trust with me. I’m suspecting the same might be true for my son.
I was disappointed to receive, instead, a long missive with everything but. Its philosophies, focus, intentions, excellence, and resources.
Thus it was time to present—to my 12 year old—sex columnist Dan Savage’s awesome concept of “the price of admission.” (Savage and I disagree on when additional relationships should be disclosed to each current lover, but agree on a bunch of other stuff.) Savage applies the phrase to romantic relationship: What is that potentially difficult Thing we must be able to accept if we are to be with a given person?
For example, if I want to be with Sally, and she demands monogamy, then monogamy is a price of admission to a romantic relationship with her. If I’m naturally polyamourous, I need to consider this. Is monogamy a price I’m willing to pay for admission to this wonderful opportunity? There’s no right or wrong answer. We simply need to know and accept the price of admission and make a decision accordingly.
If I want to be with Jerry, and Jerry requires six days per week of solitude, that’s the price of admission. Jerry’s not bad or wrong for needing that, and I’m not bad or wrong if I need more contact with a partner. The only question I need to ask myself is: If I experience this as a loss or compromise, is it worth it to me?
As a single demisexual, I’m not generally concerned with price of admission when it comes to sex stuff. But I LOVE this concept applied throughout all of life!
For me, it goes all the way down to things like: This potential friend requires that I would talk with her on a telephony at least four times per week. As a person whose brain glitches with phone use, is this a price of admission I’m willing to pay?
At this stage in his life, my son needs to decide whether group care is worth the price of admission set out. As he is finding, group stuff can be hard! Jane lies about this, Musan misreported that, Abkar blamed Tanya for this even though Nancy did it… Barak says I was annoying, even though I was trying my best to be considerate and chill. Oscar worked for 540 on that project, and then Beth scooped up all the credit!
Tough stuff, for sure.
Are some people able to let this stuff roll of their backs? Yep.
Do others feel frustrated but decide it’s “worth it?” Yep.
Does everyone have to do likewise? Not necessarily.
There are so many ways to be on the planet. A person can be a hermit, an independent contractor, a writer, financially independent, a stay at home parent, a stay at home not-parent. She can work solo, collaborate, engage with multiple mini-communities, communicate online, have 1-3 close contacts, start an organization and populate it with her favourite people…
Every time school-centered people insist we must all develop a capacity to be in large groups 30-60 hours per week, my stomach turns. Now, I’m a pretty gregarious person—intentionally meeting multiple new people every single week and nurturing ongoing relationships. Clearly, “hermit” is not my chosen path.
At the same time, I’ve found it critically important to my well-being to arrange my life such that I’m not dependent on any one group, whether family-of-origin, a partner’s extended family, or an organization. I’ve learned the hard way how precious and sweet relative independence is.
Two key things I want to get across to my kid is:
- Engage deeply with good people.
- Keep your joy and sense of worth independent of an arrogant group.
Only he will know which prices of admission are worth it to him. That’s 100% individual. If he decides that the trickery of group dynamics is worth it, he will need to go into it with acceptance of the “what is” and strategies for navigating it and keeping cool. All good, just so long as he knows that a big, daily, involved group is not the sole path to happiness.