America’s plague of precocious brats

BratThis year we ended up cancelling our Easter vacation, because I’d been away, filming in Los Angeles, and the husband had been to Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Munich and London in the space of 14 days. He felt like he’d travelled enough. And anyway, he told me, he doesn’t have time for vacations in these turbulent markets.

I didn’t mind – but the five-year-olds did. “We want to go to Palm Beach or the Caribbean,” they chanted. “All our friends are.”

With a shock I realised that my charming children had the capacity to be two spoiled brats, who think that holidays are not luxuries but necessities to which they are entitled. Furthermore, I discovered that the nanny actually agreed with them and behind my back had booked a week for her and them – plus me – in Florida, a reservation that wasn’t entirely cost-free to undo.

Just as I was mulling over the quagmire I had somehow found myself in, I read a piece in the New York Times about how 11-year-old girls are now comprising one-quarter per cent of the high-end market in hair salons across America, demanding that their hair resembles that of the latest teen pop idol Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus), aged 15, who earns $3.5 million a year, such is her popularity.

Since girls want to look like Montana and boys want to look like the Jonas Brothers (the male equivalent), children now demand more time and money on their appearance than their parents. There are bikini waxes available for eightyearolds and eyebrow waxes for your toddler. Many parents are stupid enough to indulge, or even encourage their children to do these things.

When I was five I think I sat on the swing in our garden for hours at a time. But our urban boys are way more sophisticated. They have already taken over one of the computers in the house (fortunately just to get to; they’ve also got camera technology down to a fine art. We’ve had the request for cell phones (denied). But I feel that one for a credit card can’t be very far away.

Last weekend they asked if they could go see a matinĂ©e of a show called Go Diego Go which they informed me was taking place at 2pm at Radio City Hall and I only needed to dial the following numbers, spouted out with great precision. And there was I, thinking they still couldn’t add up.

Suddenly I wished I’d gone on that holiday.V

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