’re setting up a pre-nursery school to teach embryos how to be born elegantly. Felicity Farquenharr, one of the most sought-after midwives in London’s upmarket Chelsea area, said “It never ceases to astound me how clumsy embryos can be when they’re being born. Not only that, but they dilly-dally on the way out, with no compunction about keeping their busy mothers waiting often for hours on end, and they leave a mess behind them that their mother often needs weeks to clean up. So we think this service to teach embryos is long overdue, and we support it whole-heartedly.”

Well, not quite. But I can see it coming.

Why? Well I read with amazement today about a growing troupe of play-date coaches in New York, who charge $450 an hour to teach pre-kindergarten kids how to play nicely together. $450. An. Hour. That’s $7.50 per minute. I know fund managers who’d sell stock in their grandmothers to earn that kind of money.

And what’s more shocking? There are parents paying it.

The companies offering this service also hothouse toddlers for the social, academic and emotional IQ tests that they will take to enter nursery. Yup, 1 hour IQ tests for nursery entry at the age of 4. Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually in favour of competition as kids grow up (unpopular, I know), but the key for me is as they grow up. Not at 4. Not at 6. Not even at 10.

So what does this coaching entail? The children are put through common social scenarios, and then observed. If they don’t behave in the way prescribed by the toddler decorum police, then they are advised that they did wrong, and told what to do.

They are given 2 points for completing the sentence that apples and oranges are both “fruit”, but no points if they say that they are “yummy”. So age 4, you learn that saying oranges and apples are yummy will jeopardise your university career and the chance of a fast track to partner at McKinsey.

Anyway, in case I’ve misjudged my audience, and I have readers who are thinking what a great idea it is to start formally training your children how to play at the age of 2 or 3 for the sum of $450 per hour, the tutors I read about are at the Aristotle Circle.

I should’ve asked them for commission – it would clearly be more lucrative than our activities business. One hour of tuition is equivalent to nearly 4 years of membership to Freaky Rivet. Or looked at another way, one month in Freaky Rivet costs about the same as 1 minute and 20 seconds of coaching. We’re so in the wrong business.

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