Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Baby love....

Dr Helen Wright! Whadda woman! A quick labour, baby number three, a couple of hours rest and she’s back behind her desk in her office at one of our leading girls’ boarding schools. Just exactly was she thinking? IS she thinking?

This week, her grinning visage has been plastered all over the newspapers and TV. This morning, she was interviewed “live from her office” at some ungodly hour of the morning for breakfast television with, natch, baby in tow. In fact she was shown changing a nappy in one clip and apparently breastfeeding whilst addressing a class full of rather embarrassed-looking teenage girls in another. When interviewed, she trills happily that she is showing “her girls” that they can have both the “exhilarating excitement of a career they love and the joy of a family” and that she wants to show the girls under her tutelage that it’s “not an impossible dream”. She then goes on to suggest that women should solve the childcare conundrum by taking their babies to work with them.

Oh yeah? Well I’m sorry, it might be all very lovely when you have an office the size of the average council house, medical specialists on hand (it’s a boarding school – they will have people with medical training on the staff) plus any number of cooing girls and staff happy to take little Jessica off her hands once in a while. But what happens when Jessica is teething? When she has a tummy upset or a virus? It still might be manageable for Dr Wright under those circumstances but how would a Surgeon or a Barrister or a Dinner Lady cope? Indeed, how could it possibly be feasible for any of them to actually take a baby to work with them?

I believe that my generation is heartily sick of hearing how women can “have it all”. Maybe some of them can but not without a gigantic bank balance and/or huge quantities of guilt. It doesn’t work – you end up employing other people to raise your kids – Nannies, Nurseries, and then later on, Au Pairs. Why have kids if you are simply going to get someone else to bring them up?

I was riveted by the brief interview with a couple of her sixth formers....the body language was a revelation. They squirmed throughout and haltingly attempted to praise the Headmistress by saying things such as “well, um, she’s like, our, um, role model and um, she’s um, showing us that, um, we can, um, aim like really high.” They really weren’t convincing and I felt sorry for them being pushed into punting the party line.

Dr Wright is, to my mind, completely unrealistic and if my daughter were in her care, I would be making my views known most volubly. That and looking for another school for her. On this occasion, Dr Wright is just plain Dr Wrong.

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