We all know them. Most of us have friends, relatives and people who always like to appear to be more than they are and quite frankly, they are doing a good job at it. They have perfected the art so well leaving no room for doubts but no matter how hard they try, we are always awakened to the reality when they come again knocking at our doors, to borrow something else or more. Sometimes reality also means we are the ones knocking on doors to borrow, yet again.
I still remember the first thing I borrowed. The response I got from my mother was horrendous and it left such an indelible impression. You would think I had killed someone. Do you know what I borrowed? It was a pop-up book. I can even remember the book’s title. It was “Puss in Boots”. A classmate loaned me since I had not finished reading it but my mother would not have it. She asked me to return it and forbade any such borrowing. I was only allowed to bring a book home if it was from my school’s library.
Fast forward to years in secondary school and I confess to still borrowing books- novels to be precise. I mean secondary school novel reading was fun. Sometimes I borrowed politely and sometimes I jumped the queue of awaiting readers.
I was not always patient. If the list of people who had booked ahead of me to read a book was too long, I added my name to the list but noted if the current reader of the novel was also in the boarding house. I observed their sleeping patterns and when they fell asleep especially during siesta, I collected the novel, most times aiming to finish before they woke up. That was my own lesson in speed reading.
I loved to read back then and still do and so would borrow books chronically but luckily these days, I don’t do it much because Amazon is my friend.
And so I will be the first to agree that sometimes borrowing is necessary. Even at the university, there were times I had to borrow some textbooks to be able to study properly.
Several people believe that borrowing to increase knowledge far outweighs the disadvantages of chronic borrowing. This trend of thought has also somehow been further accentuated to mean that it is ok to borrow for the education of our children.
I am still struggling to understand the concept behind constantly borrowing money to pay for children’s school fees. I do not mean these children are in a school and something happened to their parent’s income.
I am talking about the insanity of putting children in a school where the fees for a term is more than the annual income of the house. Who does that? Well, several people and their behaviour is enabled by a foolish and unfounded declaration of faith coupled with friends who cannot tell them the truth. These friends sometimes bail them out and they concede this as a miraculous intervention1! After some time, these same people develop an entitlement mentality to the funds while severing long term friendships for not supporting them.
And let me be quick to say that I am not against private education. My siblings and I enjoyed private education (even when public schools were very good) up to the high school level. Our parents even also paid for private tutors at different times of our schooling as they constantly had an eye on our work. They wanted the best for us and did it within their means of income. It was more important to my parents then that we received the sort of education we had even if it meant they remained tenants much longer than they originally planned.
We frown at people borrowing for weddings, naming ceremonies or parties and think that somehow borrowing for a child’s education is not the same thing. Irrespective of the reason we may have, borrowing every time we want to pay the school fees of our wards show that there is a problem with us and we are living beyond our means. It may be a problem of lack of self-esteem, a failure to discipline ourselves to save or plan properly, wanting to be like the Jones’s, and a pie in the sky mentality.
This matter has led to unnecessary friction in some homes as some spouses have insisted that their children attend certain schools that are clearly out of their league. Ironically, it is those spouses who are not contributing to the financial purse, only to leave their partners stressed up with finding the money and borrowing.
But because we are concerned about healthy relationships, we suggest that if this has been the pattern in your home, let the last term of this school calendar be the end of such behavior. There is still time for us to do proper research and ask other parents. There is no law that says our children cannot be in the same school with the children of our perceived subordinates, especially if the school is a good one and the best that is within our means. Expensive does not always mean good. Education is said to be the greatest given legacy but in giving it, we still have to cut our coat, no longer according to our size but according to our cloth.