January 24, 2006

Cold Comfort

The Phantom Professor used to be an adjunct at Dallas' Southern Methodist University, located in Highland Park/University Park. The Park Cities (as they are known locally) are the lily-white old-money part of Dallas.

She frequently posts an (appropriately anonymized) story about her former students - many of them born and raised in the Park Cities bubble themselves. Painting with a broad brush, she tends to hit her mark (how's that for a mixed metaphor?)

Check out this story, related to her by one of her students. Here's a non-spoiling excerpt to whet your appetite:

Background needed. Many of the sorority girls who deign to take part-time jobs opt to become nannies to the wealthy families in the exclusive neighborhoods around the campus. We're talking estate-like mega-mansions, not the shoddy McMansions of the ugly suburbs. Even a teardown in this area can go for half a mil, with a $5 million, three-story behemoth taking the place of a 1950s one-story brick cottage.

So who lives in these places? Movers, shakers, big deal makers. They are still young, very ambitious and have children who still need minding. To help look after their offspring, lawyer-mommy and mogul-daddy hire a Tri-Delt or a Kappa to pick them up at school, haul them to soccer practice or gymnastics, and maybe get them fed and medicated (they're always medicated) before the parents get home late from their offices.

Tessa worked for such a family. She said the mom was a control freak extraordinaire. Left Post-It notes everywhere about everything. "Put Justine in the pink and black leotards for ballet. NOT the purple ones." Or "Phillip has a birthday party at the DeWildes' on Tuesday. Be sure to ask about peanuts. NO PEANUTS ALLOWED!" Another note said simply: "No TV--Enrichment activities only!"

Trying to raise her children via notes to the hired nanny, the mom rarely interacted with them herself. Tessa said she never saw either parent hug or kiss their kids. Or, for that matter, each other. They were an emotionally chilly family and the kids sometimes acted robotically emotion-free.

By the time you get to the end, you realize that material wealth alone provides - at best - cold comfort.

Posted by JohnL at January 24, 2006 10:56 PM | TrackBack

Am I surprised? No. Is it a bad thing? Oh yeah.

And "cold comfort" has got to be one of the worst plays on words you've come up with. I like it. :)

Posted by: owlish at January 25, 2006 10:33 AM

Glad you liked it. Some thought went into choosing the title...

Posted by: JohnL at January 25, 2006 11:10 PM

Post It Notes! Brilliant. Next time I have to leave the kids overnight with spouse for some reason, it might be amusing to see what happens if I leave Post It notes around the house. "Milk goes in the fridge!" "Socks first, THEN shoes!" Surely my return would be greeted by my grinning family all wearing underpants on their heads. Yes, I must try that.

Posted by: Beth Atkins at January 26, 2006 02:24 PM

I feel for those kids raised by the nanny's. What a shame.

Posted by: Lucy Stern at January 28, 2006 09:35 PM

It's hard for me to understand, I am trying to adopt a child. I dream almost every night of having my own chld, of holding and loving them. Sometimes I cry.

Posted by: Kyle N at January 30, 2006 06:57 AM

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Posted by: docqc at February 24, 2010 12:34 PM
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