Oh baby, this can’t work

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
3:00 AM

The Daily Mail’s Random Controversial Article Generator gifted us a chunk of gold this week as former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins cheerfully revealed she won’t let her children play with friends she deems “beneath” them.

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Hopkins has a social class checklist which she applies to the children mixing with her peerless cherubs: they must be the spawn of “like-minded, high-achieving families”, be over-performing at school, must never be late, must not own electronic gadgets, must attend a dizzying array of after-school activities, must not have pierced ears and should have “a good old-fashioned Victorian name such as George, Henry or Victoria”.

But before you think she’s being outrageously picky, there is a little room for manoeuvre: “If a child has a name with a Latin or Greek derivation such as Ariadne or Helena, all the better. It indicates the parents are well-educated.” Phew: I can officially be one of Katie Hopkins’ children’s friends with my Greek-derived name; thanks, Mum and Dad.

I can dispense with Hopkins fairly swiftly – the woman is a ridiculous harpy whose views are as relevant as a roof-top garden on a submarine – but her pointless droning is horribly familiar.

The first time you encounter rabid Super Mums is at horrific Mother and Baby groups that everyone suggests you go to in order to find ‘new friends’ who have also embarked on the mothering journey.

Tip one from a mothering veteran: just because someone evacuated their womb at roughly the same time as you did doesn’t mean you’ll like them, have anything other than a baby in common with them or be able to shake them off after 15 years even though they STILL can’t pronounce your (Greek-derived) name properly.

Mother and Baby groups are, in fact, one of the most compelling reasons to have been born a man (alongside childbirth, sports bras, hen nights, smear tests and netball).

Twenty women leaking hormones in a draughty church hall with only a packet of shortbread, a leaflet on meningitis and more parental boasting than Katie Hopkins could manage in a year is not what I call entertainment. It’s what I call torture.

There are certain kinds of mother who always manage to convince themselves that their children are “exceptionally gifted” and that it is vital to spread this news as far as possible – Facebook is a gift to these women and a curse to those of us that couldn’t care less about Tarquin’s potty-training regime after the 9,000th update about it on our timeline.

Little Raphael may only be three years old, but apparently his paintings are already reminiscent of Matisse’s early work. Jocasta has been reading Trollope since she was 18 months old. Felix the baby sees dead people.

To the outside world – with their untrained eyes – Raphael, Jocasta and Felix are crashingly dull, ordinary and average; to their mother, they represent a tri-fold manifestation of the second coming. If your baby is crawling, theirs is Riverdancing and competing at a county level in the 100m. If your baby has just started eating rusks, theirs is eating bruschetta and asking for stuffed vine leaves. If your baby is saying “Dada”, theirs is quoting Chaucer and pointing out spelling mistakes in the Guardian.

As the saying goes, strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. More to the point, strangers are more people that you can bore senseless about your new baby when you’ve alienated the rest of your friends and family – this is why Mother and Baby groups exist.

I gave up Mother and Baby meetings after one attempt: I didn’t need a coven of competitiveness trying to out-shout each other about who had the best baby. Especially as I knew I had the best baby. And it’s precisely because I have the best babies (albeit quite old now) that I trust them to find their own friends without the need to meddle like one of Hitler’s demonic social engineers in the background.

Tip two from a mothering veteran: you have no influence whatsoever when it comes to your children choosing their friends. Encouraging them to be nice to friends whose parents own holiday homes in the south of France is allowed but on your head be it if you are invited for a holiday and then have to put up with said child’s mother telling how much better her kids are than yours.

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