A Normal Way of Life
What is "normal" in American culture? I believe my family is "normal" and my friends believe that of their families, too. Yet, our families are so different. How can that be? Everyone has an ideal image of a "normal" family according to the way they live. I believe "normal" to be a mother, a father, and kids living in the same house with three cars and a pool to be normal. My family has a strong set of beliefs, traditions, and artifacts that compile into my ideal image of "normal".
I am of French, German, and Polish decent. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lived in Michigan their entire lives. My mother's side was from Warren and my father's from Pontiac. Growing up my parents went to a Catholic school and became high school sweethearts. My mother and father were not very well off growing up and it seemed to stay that way early into their marriage. My father became a builder at the young age of twenty-three. My mother once told me that after they moved into their first home, they couldn't even afford a dishwasher. My mother was a medical assistant up until I was three and she hasn't worked since. I was fortunate enough to have my mother home with me when I was younger. A lot of children I went to elementary school with weren't as lucky. Growing up my brother, parents, and I all lived in a small, ranch-style home in Sterling Heights. We had a nice yard, two cars, and a basketball hoop. This was typical if you looked down our street. Once I hit fifth grade our house went up for sale and we moved to Washington Township. Our home was bigger now and the people in the neighborhood were fairly different also. They thought that we lived on Rodeo Drive. We moved again when I was in ninth grade to Romeo. Our "normal" started to change. My brother had graduated from Michigan State and he was moving out. It was just my parents and I living at home. This house was much bigger with only three people living in it. As my friends and I started getting our licenses we were all handed brand new cars to drive, along with gas money and cell phones. We had the expensive clothes and the attitudes that went along with them. I will be the first to admit that the people I associated with in high school thought they were better then everyone else. These were the kids I had the most in common with, though. I never really hung out with kids in school whose home life was not similar to my own. Other kids in school thought we were just preppy stuck up snobs. I never really classified myself as that extreme of a person, but we were definitely labeled.
On the PBS production of People Like Us different social classes in America are being compared. The broadcast interviews a poor, single mother who wears her Burger King work shirt everyday to the extreme of a man who falls into the category of the WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), a rich community in the New England States. Different groups in a high school named Anderson...