Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Ms. Demeanor is back! Today: Public school neighbor with private school attitude

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | June 30, 2010 - 6:05AM

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

My formerly-friendly neighbor is giving me attitude for sending my daughter to a private school across town instead of the public school around the corner. 

Do I ignore her and hope she'll get over it or confront her comments head-on? 

Proudly Private

Dear Proud:

The place where one chooses to educate oneself or one’s offspring is a deeply personal decision, but the situation you describe is one of the quickest routes from frenemy to enemy in NYC, where school admissions by necessity command an ungodly portion of parental mindshare.

Where else is it harder to get into a local public school than a second-tier private school? 

For that matter, where else are there ‘tiers’ of private schools?

Indeed, as their  4- and 5-year-olds negotiate the Stanford-Binets, G&Ts, and ERBs, it’s the rare parent who does not want to say ENOUGH already -- to the system, to the Department of Education, to the feeling of starving in a sea of plenty, and particularly to the Known Biter who scored a 99 on the Olsat/Brracken and is going to Anderson. 

Unsurprisingly perhaps, your neighbor has developed a Manhattan-sized chip on her shoulder.  If she were happy with PSXXX, she wouldn’t feel the need to disparage your decision to attend Private School YYY. 

As for you,  while Manhattan schools may be over-crowded, your life need not be crowded with people who don’t wish you well. 

Move on, figuratively if not literally.  Ignore her if you can, but if she continues her comments then close the discussion with, “Isn’t it great that we live in a city where there is something for everyone?”


Starting today, Ms. Demeanor will be channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton.  She is here to commiserate, calm and correct.  Please email your quandaries to [email protected].

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