I am an Education Consultant.
The title awards the position a sense of dignity, if only a modicum. We consult, rather than tutor. There is a hierarchy of roles in the for-profit education universe. You have the tutors, the counselors, the consultants, the program directors, the center managers, the managing consultants, and the senior consultants… circling back to assistants, assistant directors, lead consultant, head consultant, account executive, regional director…
But we flash back to a phone call with dad, a few months ago.
I am a rapidly aging specimen of the Millennial Age, who has watched his peers, one by one, graduate into adulthood, through the portal of marriage, and kids, and two kids, and three (?!) kids, pets, and minivans, and, and… beyond.
My dad wants to know if I’m dating anyone. I say yes. But we don’t discuss her. Parents don’t approve of her. Why? She’s not ethnically homogenous. But what about the kindness of her heart, the warmth she embodies, the feeling I get, of being cared for? No matter. She is not one of us.
Speaking of which, Dad has a friend, lives in New York. (In my head, I note that fact: 3000 miles away, check) His friend has a daughter. He is one of us. She is looking for a husband. But, he sheepishly jokes, “I don’t know what to tell him when he asks what do you do for a living!” And I see that choo-choo-train of life advice heading around the corner with gusto, a mile away. About what I really should be doing with my law degree. I swiftly knock it off its rails before it rounds the bend.
Why can’t you tell him the truth?! That I am an education consultant!
“A consultant?” That’s a new label for him. “Is that what you do?”
I say yes.
He pauses, but then he leans in, for a roundhouse kick to the gut. “Yeah, but that’s just the same thing as a tutor at a tutoring center. What’s the Difference?”
I don’t know where to start.
Maybe I can start with how the scale with which he measures, to begin with, is all wrong — and then maybe I can go into a heartfelt speech about how I feel like I am helping kids.
But I don’t quite get there.
The darkness deep inside me reaches out and strangles the jugular, so it can only speak in hurt, defensive terms, lashing out with the kind of bile you know you will regret later.
Why do you always do this? Why do you always belittle what I do? Why can’t you respect what I do?
And now the conversation has degraded into a shouting match, and I emphatically push the Off button on my phone, mid-sentence. Another institution, from which I detach myself.
I am a Millennial.