It seems it was only a Bur-berry season or two ago that we discovered we had to start strategizing shortly after Lamaze to get our kids into the “right” pricey preschool. (“How did Caitlin’s interview go?” we routinely ask friends regarding their three-year-olds.) Perhaps inevitably, those same tykes are now hitting the social circuit after a grueling week at Gladwyne Montessori, proving you’re never too young for the society page. The trend started in Manhattan, when glossies like W began cluttering pages with mommies and their perfect-looking progeny at “kids’ events” such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Bunny Hop. It’s trickled down here, with museums and charities hosting glamsoirees for the pre-K set.
But is creating a league of tiny Bonpointwearing mini-Thems a good thing? “I see it as an extension of things we do already,” sniffs one Square mom. “You expose your kids to what you’re interested in, and if you like arts and culture, you’ll take your children to these events. I don’t see it as social climbing at all.” The galas usually benefit student programs, which parents say translates to kid-to-kid philanthropy.
The most exclusive of Philly’s small-fry events is the Littlest Friends Festival, held the night before Rittenhouse Square’s Ball on the Square in June. The two parties aren’t so very different: The ball draws Chloé-clad socialites hitting the dance floor; the Littlest Friends, Lilly Pulitzer-wearing four-year-olds leaping onto a moon bounce. Clowns and face painters are part of the first party, and one might argue there are plenty of those at the ball as well. Of course, the tiny set tends to melt down as the night wears on, devolving into whining, tears and general crankiness.
On second thought, there’s really no difference at all.