Are you familiar with this poem? It’s the horror story for perfectionists:
Good Enough by Edgar Guest
My son, beware of “good enough,”
It isn’t made of sterling stuff;
It’s something any man can do,
It marks the many from the few,
It has no merit to the eye,
It’s something any man can buy,
Its name is but a sham and bluff,
For it is never “good enough.”
With “good enough” the shirkers stop
In every factory and shop;
With “good enough” the failures rest
And lose to men who give their best;
With “good enough” the car breaks down
And men fall short of high renown.
My son, remember and be wise,
In “good enough” disaster lies.
With “good enough” have ships been wrecked,
The forward march of armies checked,
Great buildings burned and fortunes lost;
Nor can the world compute the cost
In life and money it has paid
Because at “good enough” men stayed.
Who stops at “good enough” shall find
Success has left him far behind.
There is no “good enough” that’s short
Of what you can do and you ought.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by,
Shall weaken underneath the strain
And wreck the ship or car or train,
For this is true of men and stuff—
Only the best is “good enough.”
This poem, or some variation of it, has wandered through my brain for years, but never quite as often as the last few months. This cross country move is going to do me in. It’s either going to break me of my innate perfectionism or it’s going to throw me into a padded room.
When is “good enough” good enough? Ever?
Here in Colorado we have open enrollment for schools. Basically you can send your kids to pretty much any school provided there’s room there and you’re willing to drive. That’s a big reason why charter schools are so plentiful here. There are pros and cons to this setup, but it’s worked pretty well for us for the last few years.
Illinois does not have open enrollment. Having grown up there, I know this. You pick a school district and then pick a house. This is great in that the kids in your neighborhood are the kids you are sure to go to school with (unless they attend a private school), but really really sucks when you’re trying to find a house. You can’t just find a house you like and then enroll your kids in a school that would best accommodate them. It’s the exact opposite.
My perfectionism with this is truly trying to kill me. District A is great through middle school, but then feeds into a high school so large small colleges quake in its presence. Housing is reasonable there. District B has a strong gifted program, the high school is smaller, but housing is not quite so reasonable. District C never returned my phone calls, but a friend teaches there and vouches for its quality, and housing is certainly affordable, so I’ll give it another look. District D is a huge commute for my husband, the high schools are wonky, but housing is more than affordable. District D.5 is the district I grew up in and know well, but houses are expensive for the size and it’s also a long commute for Tom. And finally, District E is Ye Olde Homeschool of Chaos, and housing is completely affordable because we can live wherever we damned well please.
I’m slowly going insane.
Where do I draw the line with picking a school district? When do I finally just say, enough! This is good enough, there is no perfect scenario for this complex 2e kid, we do the best we can with what we have. How do I ignore the “what if” guilt if our district choice is poor? We can’t send him somewhere else and we can’t just up and move. Our Chicago realtor has got to think I’m guano crazy; I’ve changed district preference on him twice now and am about to do it again. The distance isn’t helping, but I’m pretty sure I’d be this nuts if I lived there too. I…just keep thinking that if we find the perfect educational scenario, then maybe things will improve. I also know that’s crazy talk.
So I keep looking and learning and it’s probably going to come down to an ok house in an ok district and I’ll just have to be ok with that.
It’ll just have to be good enough.