where wildly different is perfectly normal
When is good enough?
When is good enough?

When is good enough?

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.


  1. Look at it this way. You’re actually saving money by NOT being there right now, because you KNOW you’d drive your vehicle around, hands gripping the wheel, white knuckled, muttering as you follow kids home from school.

    And gas is expensive, yo.


    P.S. I feel for you. This makes ME twitch, and I’m not even a character IN this story.

  2. Oh, Sister Girl, I do NOT envy your situation right now. I/We didn’t really have a choice other than Chicago since my ex-husband was a cop. Then, thank you Jesus, Stud got into one of the regional gifted centers, which meant we couldn’t move out of the city even if I wanted to. Now, it really makes no difference where we live (I’m grandfathered in as far as the residency requirement for teachers) but I’ve dumped so much money into this house, I’ll have to be buried in the backyard! 🙁

    I just hope you end up close enough to me that we can visit frequently!! 😉

  3. Honestly? I’d go with A. I went to a HS that was that large (+1000 in my graduating class) and it was fine. Really. I know A has issues, but HS is 4 years from now and believe me 4 years is a long time. Ry was exactly where A is now in 4th grade and now my only issue is catching him up on the study skills he missed during elementary.

    The size of the HS will also work in A’s favor. The larger community will increase the odds that he is able to find a peer group. Larger schools have more clubs outside of band and athletics that could appeal to him. Just MHO, not that you asked. 🙂

  4. Amy

    I agree with melissaz and since I think I know which district you are referring to here, I’ve heard many good things about the HS (and one of my friend’s teaches there). Plus…I can’t help but agree since you’d be so very close to moi.

Whaddya think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.