Real-estate shaming: The newest trend in pre-adolescent douchebaggery

Take a look at this screen capture and tell me what you see:


Chances are you see the homepage of, a site where one can go and look up the supposed value of any given home. That’s what I used to see, too.

Now? Now I see this:


Allow me to explain.

Back when I was a kid, maybe the shittiest thing we’d do is give some nerd a wedgie … and by “we,” I mean the little assholes I went to school with, and by “some nerd,” I mean me … but that’s beside the point.

Anyway … I recently discovered that technology has rendered obsolete the good ol’-fashioned wedgie.

A few weeks ago, Zan was goofing around with some friends and acquaintances on a baseball diamond when one of his classmates — whose identity I shall protect here by referring to him with the more anonymous and yet simultaneously more accurate name of Rotten Little Fucker — announced to Zan and the other boys the following:

“Hey, Zan, I looked up everybody’s house on Zillow last night to see how much they’re worth, and yours was the cheapest. Did you know your house isn’t even worth as much as a Lamborghini? How does that make you feel?”

Well, I don’t want to speak for Zan, but I can tell you how it made ME feel when I learned that Rotten Little Fucker intentionally went out of his way to make my son feel less-than and purposely tried to embarrass him in front of his friends based solely upon my financial resources: It made me feel like going to his expensive house, tying him down in his expensive front yard and using him as a fucking lawn-dart target.

See, here’s the thing: When we moved here from the Boston area about five years ago, we could have bought a McMansion for less money than we ended up spending on the much older and far more modest house in which we now live … but the McMansions were all located in shitty school districts, while the much older and far more modest house in which we now live is located in what recently was ranked as one of the Top 5 school districts in the entire country.

Unfortunately, “I live in one of the Top 5 school districts in the entire country” isn’t something about which an 11-year-old boy can reasonably be expected to get super excited … especially when that 11-year-old boy’s peer group is largely comprised of millionaires’ offspring, all of whose homes are worth at least two to three times more than ours.

Of course, I also am well aware that “We live in an exclusive hamlet, surrounded by affluence” is a first-world problem, so I hope this doesn’t come off like me whining about being low man on the upper-middle-class totem pole. I’m merely explaining that it is a unique kind of parenting challenge to raise one’s children in an environment where one’s resources are far surpassed by those of the other children’s parents.

True story: This past winter, Zan attended a birthday party that took place at a country club where the birthday boy’s parents rented out the banquet room and converted it into a miniature golf course. We can’t really compete with that.

Fortunately, we a.) don’t really want to compete with that, and b.) have so far done what I would describe as a more than respectable job of teaching our children to accept the fact that there will always be people with more than us, and there will always be people with less than us, and instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we need to appreciate what we do have and how lucky we are to have it.

“So Mom told me what Rotten Little Fucker said to you about our house yesterday,” I said to Zan when I picked him up from school the following day. “That was a pretty lousy move on his part.”

“Yeah,” he said without much interest.

“You know, usually, when someone does something like that, it’s because they don’t feel so great about themselves, so they try to make themselves feel better by putting other people down.”

“I know,” he said, still unfazed.

“And we really don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. I know we live in a place where a lot of people have more than us, but we have a nice house and everything we need, so you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel bad about that.”

“I know, Dad. I really don’t care about what Rotten Little Fucker said. It didn’t bother me.”

And I realized with equal parts relief and pride that he meant it.

Also? I realized I’m raising a kid whom I know would take absolutely no pleasure in making one of his peers feel shitty about themselves. You can’t really put a price tag on that … but I can assure you that it’s worth far more to me than the fair-market value of my house.

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  1. Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Kids…some kids…are horrible, horrible people because they were raised that way. YOUR son is blessed more than he knows now – because of his parents. And the way that you are raising him.

    As for those other kids? Well, time will tell…but I bet, if you look to the parents you will see how they may turn out.

  2. Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    That little bugger!
    High fives to your son for being damn cool.

  3. Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    It isn’t just our kids learning from us, sometimes we parents learn from them and I think you just learned something you didn’t realize you were being taught. Good job!
    Rilly´s most recent blog post: Another Milestone and a Big Surprise……..My Profile

  4. Stacie
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes we don’t give our kids near enough credit for not giving a shit about what we as adults view as awful/shitty/important/hurtful. Good on ya Little Buddy for teaching us a lesson in humility. And I’m sure Rotten Little Fucker will get what’s coming to him, in time.

  5. Fabs
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow, just….wow.

  6. Posted May 28, 2015 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I agree with the others that you’re raising your kids well, that the classmate will likely get his eventually, and that your family is rich in all the ways that matter, but this post just makes me feel like growling. It’s been at least thirty minutes since I first read it and I’ve felt unsettled ever since. I relate to this one too much, methinks. You know that your kids are already good and kind people who know what matters, and that’s no small thing. I’m sorry you guys had this experience, though.

  7. Magan
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Ouch. That was painful to read. Fuck that piece of shit little bastard! We are in a similar situation except we sold our “nice house” & now live in a piece of shit student-family campus housing. So far, it’s not been a problem but it still hurts a little. I keep telling myself that she’ll grow up seeing me work hard at my full time job while also going to college but that doesn’t replace the fact that, since she is 12 now, she’ll be in college herself once we finally begin to reap the financial rewards of this journey. But like you, I am lucky enough to have a child with strong character so none of this phases her at all. I just wish I shared her confidence & reselience.

  8. Kelly P
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    You basically just described my upbringing if you substitute me for Zan, except I kind of did care. If it makes you feel any better, I turned out fine (great, even!) and I think being the ‘poor kid’ (using that term very loosely, obvs) in a rich neighborhood is character building. Plus, the peeps who made me sad way back then turned out to be giant a-holes, which was a surprise to exactly no one.

  9. Pam
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Rotten kids are raised by rotten parents. There, I said the obvious. I raised my kids as a single mother and worked 4 jobs to allow them to go the expensive private schools because the schools in our neighborhood were so poorly run. I told them I wanted them to get the best education possible to have a good start on college. Some of the students at their schools were real jerks, but not nearly as bad as their parents. But you know what, I have 2 great kids who are caring, responsible, hardworking adults. And they treat me with great respect. The other parents — not so much. So, in the end, they lose.

  10. Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this since you posted it, and I’m wondering what life will be like for the RLF. Not too pleasant, I suspect. I wonder what his family life is like In the future, he will always be worrying about those who have more expensive stuff than he has, striving to get it, never quite getting there. Always feeling like he’s a failure. Stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and an early heart attack.

    Zan, on the other hand, enjoys the heck out of baseball, wrestling, Red Sox, Disney World, and (the big one) his family. He couldn’t care less that the RLF lives in a more expensive house. Kid’s got his head on straight. Congratulations.
    Jeanne Waite Follett´s most recent blog post: When You Really, Really Need a NapMy Profile

  11. AmericanGirl
    Posted August 7, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    So I just came across your blog & I’m feeling disappointed that you don’t have any newer posts. You are hilarious–and real! It’s a winning combination. Maybe you are writing a book or something productive like that, but keep the blog going! Please?

    • Posted August 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the compliments and the words of encouragement. I greatly appreciate both. I do plan to keep the blog going. Sorry I haven’t posted anything new in quite a while. Hoping to do a better job in the near future.
      Also hoping to finally write that book. The good news? I’ve started. The bad news? By “I’ve started,” I mean that I have about five pages so far …

  12. Dixie
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Excellent parenting! You handled that situation so well. I’m not sure I could have remained calm and focused. You and Mommy Scratches are rock star parents!

  13. Breadwinner Mom
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in a town my brother affectionately referred to as “hick town with an attitude.” The school district had a pretty broad range of incomes – no one was really wealthy, but those at the upper end thought they were pretty high class. I would say my family was lower- to middle- middle class. Which meant that in the heyday of branded fashion, when you weren’t anything without “Benetton” or “Esprit” splashed across your chest, the fact that my parents were not down with spending $80 on a sweatshirt made me an object of much scorn. And I always did think it was bullshit to be judged based on how much money my father made. I mean, seriously – it’s not like that had anything to with me. No one has control over their parents’ education or employment. Seriously. What the fuck? So I totally get where you’re coming from, and your urge to strangle Rotten Little Fucker with your bare hands.
    But I have to take issue with everyone who has proclaimed their belief that RLF will get his karmic comeuppance one of these days. That he has an unhappy life now, or will grow up to have an unhappy life. That’s right up there with “those kids pick on you because they’re jealous that you’re so smart” and “they have money because their mom works full time and I bet she would give up her designer clothes to have her mom around.” These are lies parents tell their children to make them feel better, because they hurt like hell for them, and they’ll say anything to make it stop.
    I know they are lies because I am in my 40s now, and Facebook came along just in time for me to see how all the Rotten Little Fuckers (and Petty Little Bitches) from my high school turned out. There was no cosmic justice. No payback. They aren’t any more or less miserable than I am. Plenty of them are still thin and pretty. Plenty have “married well” and have lovely children and expensive vacations. They have not suffered because they were C students. They have not been punished by the universe for being PLBs.
    The fact is that middle school and high school are full of assholes. Some of them grow out of it when they get a look at the wider world. Some of them stay in a bubble of judgmental privilege and remain assholes. I think what you told Zan was right on. And he’s clearly got his head on straight. But I beg all of you – be honest with your children. Don’t tell them fairy tales about the future. Tell them the truth about the future: once they graduate, they can choose who they spend time with, and can avoid all the assholes and RLFs and PLBs forever – or at least until their own children are in school and they have to join the PTO 😉

  14. Posted August 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    First off, what a shitty thing for a kid to do. Second off, good for your son. Third off, why is it so hard to find a baseball team for our kids to play on that doesn’t cost $1500, and understands that kids just want to have fun.

    We had a similar situation happen, except that the kids were 9, and when the coach finally put my kid at first base, the coach’s kid said, “why are you in the infield, you are not good enough to be at first base. I am too good to play outfield, you should be out here where you belong.” The kid’s dad was standing right there and didn’t say a thing. My kid ignored him while my husband and I totally lost our shit on the kid. My kid was embarrassed for us, not himself.
    Kate´s most recent blog post: Symmetry and the Subway Sandwich ArtistsMy Profile

  15. john
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    It is a sad commentary when the appearance of one’s house is a subject for bullying and shaming. This carries over to adults unfortunately, who comment not so much on the host who opens their house to welcome them but on how dated everything is in the house.
    TV is rife with home shows that regularly have individuals, either designers or real estate agents or “discriminating ” buyers who are shocked by popcorn ceilings or oak panelled kitchens that don’t open into the rest of the house. It has made so many people insecure about the appearance of their house that they feel compelled to pay contractors 100,000 dollars to rid them of this self loathing
    brought on by their house. Unfortunately, it spreads to other persons who overtly or covertly spread dissatisfaction with what should be a place where the focus should be on the joy of residing together in a home.

    Shame on all those persons who value things above people.


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