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Would you spend $400 on play date lessons?

You might have to if you want to keep up with these NYC parents.
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Devon Scoble, July 30, 2013 6:10:15 AM

Trust the New York Post to break yet another story from the alien enclave of wealthy Manhattan. The tabloid which first told us of parents who hire disabled “concierges” to help them skip the lines at Disney has unearthed another spurious phenomenon: $400-an-hour play date consultants hired to boost rich kids’ applications to tony private kindergartens.

According to Susan Rehault, whose Aristotle Circle company milks rich parents’ anxiety promotes and assesses children’s play skills, many wealthy Manhattan toddlers “need a little bit more work” learning how to play. Apparently the kids are so busy attending Mandarin lessons, violin classes, and tennis clinics that they never develop free play skills. This wouldn’t be an issue for their parents, except that elite kindergartens have started demanding their students act like human children, not well-bred child-bots.

“These children have five classes a week but they don’t know the simplest thing — how to be at ease and play spontaneously with a child,” said Primates of Park Avenue author, Wednesday Martin.

So Aristotle Circle arranges play dates, allowing groups of three to four children to associate freely (at scheduled intervals, natch), while the consultants assess their ability to share, colour and maintain a proper crayon grasp.

If you’ve already started shaking your head by now, trust me: I’m with you. My initial response was also obvious and terrifically plebeian, starting with swears and ending with thoughts of what a better rich person I would be than these crazy New Yorkers. (If you care to know, I would follow the Angelina Jolie Rule of Bazillionaire Budgeting: save a third, spend a third, donate a third. And you’d better believe that none of the spending portion would go to dubious consultants). But eventually my disbelief morphed into more industrious thoughts: where can I find rich, gullible parents and what kind of consultant could I be?

I could invite rich kids’ to my messy living room, to acquaint them with immunity building germs, and to help them develop the linguistic skills necessary for dealing with citizens of lower social classes. I could pimp out my bicultural son for special diversity play dates. Lego instructor! Imagination coach! The possibilities are endless.

Anyway, my point is this: if you’ve got the means to spend $400+ in an entirely frivolous, but earnest attempt to improve your child’s future, call me. If not? Then I guess my peasant child and I will see you and yours at the sandbox. Perhaps we can teach the kids free play by casually ignoring them while we catch up on adult conversation? Unfortunately the only currency I can offer for your kid’s valuable time is goldfish crackers. But if that works for you, then see you at the park!

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Devon Scoble

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