Magazine article The Spectator

Under-Age Clubbing

Magazine article The Spectator

Under-Age Clubbing

Article excerpt

Imogen Edwards-Jones says that alpha mothers over-extend their children 'S o what classes does Allegra do?' asks my new supernanny as she unpacks her wheelie bag.

'Sorry?' I say, a little distracted.

'What's Allegra's schedule?'

'Schedule?' I repeat. 'She doesn't have one.

She is only eight months old.' 'Oh, ' replies the nanny, looking at me as if I've just admitted to child abuse and non-organic food, which let's face it are one and the same these days. 'You're never too young to start, ' she declares. 'You're never too young to learn.'

I have to say I am a little horrified. I sit on the bed and look at my much-loved daughter who is merrily bashing two wooden blocks together and wonder, am I doing her a disservice? Is she at the tender age of eight months already falling behind? Am I a bad mother?

Having a child these days is like walking through a minefield. The world depicted in Karen Quinn's novel The Ivy Chronicles about New York mothers fighting for nursery places has definitely crossed the Pond. It is no longer enough for your bundle of joy to sit around dribbling and staring at the wall. You're not allowed to plonk your children in front of a few toys and let them get on with it. They have to be entertained, socialised, motivated, stimulated and encouraged to achieve. They've got to be packed into the 4x4 and ferried from Gymboree to Monkey Music, to yoga to massage, to French, to Japanese, to Crechendo, to Muszika and back again.

Their days, as I learn from supernanny while she flaps out her sturdy bras, must be full.

William, she informs me, the last boy she looked after, had Gymboree on Mondays, Monkey Music on Tuesdays, Crechendo on Wednesdays.

He did Aqua Babies on Thursdays and some sort of music lesson on Friday. And every afternoon he had a 'play date'. A play date?

'You know, ' she says, 'when another child comes over to play.' It seems that poor ninemonth-old William was so busy being stimulated that he needed to make an appointment to play.

And William is not the only one at it. In between the ballet, the tap, the French, the judo and the swimming, slightly older children go to the aptly named Busy Kids where they listen to stories read by famous people.

Or they attend Margie's Studio where they learn about Turner and Van Gogh, paint pictures themselves and take part in an exhibition where the parents bid to buy back their children's work. …

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