Apparently, there are parents in this world who are planning vacations to Belize so that their children may go monkey watching. And dog-sledding in Alaska. Parents who are feeding their toddlers octopus, so that they may learn to savor rare and exotic foods at an early age. These same parents are acquiring imported skin and haircare products for their kids, debating whether or not to decorate the baby's nursery with original sketches by contemporary artists or buy original Laurent de Brunhoff prints at auction, and are very, very concerned about the exclusivity of the clothing and furniture they purchase. They are coaching their pre-schoolers in preparation for the big pre-school interview and putting their expectations for the nanny in writing, to ensure that all sketchy situations are handled with an appropriate and immediate response.
How do I know this?
One of the pieces of junk mail in the stack of mail we received while in Ohio was a promotional plug for a new magazine called Cookie, and it appears to be marketed towards this segment of the population. How I got on this list is truly beyond me—I suppose I do own a Pottery Barn couch purchased in 1997... and I spent approximately $60 on Christmas gifts for my daughter, niece, and nephew from The Land of Nod this Christmas... though that doesn't really seem to be enough to make the cut here. After I stopped giggling in disbelief as I read the introductory letter by Mary Berner, mother of four, Chief Executive Officer—I bet she's something else!—I've got to say, the whole thing makes me a little sad. Sad for the little four year olds who are living The Nanny Diaries for real; sad to think that the class system in the United States is so alive and well. As a public educator, I really put my eggs into the basket that is labeled "everyone has a fair chance, so long as you do your homework and study hard and keep your nose clean." But maybe everyone doesn't have a fair chance. Maybe there are children out there right now being groomed for their first of 78 pre-school interviews who will be running the world in 25 years or so. Without question or challenge. They're simply playing the part until it becomes so much a part of them that they wouldn't know the difference anyway.
But then again, maybe the kids who wear clothes from Target, and have pictures from art.com on their walls, and use Johnson's and Johnson's shampoo, and vacation at their grandparents' houses, and ride around in a $129 stroller from Babies R Us, and really prefer Kraft Dinner over just about anything else will be the ones who win in the end. I'd like to believe that while they might not be the most pampered children on earth, they'll at least be in touch. They'll do their homework and study hard, and hopefully set some goals that mean something to them personally—and do what needs to happen for those goals to be met, even if it "only" means running a shop or engineering bridges or teaching kids Spanish instead of running the world. This is my wish for my own girls, at least.
I'm going to pass on Cookie, but you can bet I'll be passing this letter along to my friends. If nothing else, it's good for a laugh. And a shudder.