In preparation for the harrowing rounds of private-school interviews that determine where their children will matriculate and, by extension, the entire course of their lives, New York parents have been hiring "consultants" to assess their children's social skills. One company does this by holding "mock playdates," in which the children are directed to have fun while being secretly subjected to silent judgment from a team of high-strung, status-conscious individuals. Cruel? Indeed, but as this is the kind of experience they will likely have time and time again throughout their lives, perhaps it's best to inure them to it now. After a recent playdate, the team of consultants, which includes a former Horace Mann admissions director, was unsparing in its judgments of a child whose mother would only give the Journal her first name, "Ellen."
And it's not hard to see why. The kid was a hot mess.
One 4-year-old "appeared slightly shy at the beginning of the playgroup," requiring the moderator "to occasionally need to repeat a question," read a six-page assessment provided to her parents within a few days of the playgroup. The assessment concluded that the child "appeared to enjoy the game of 'Simon Says,' engaging in gross motor tasks such as jumping, clapping, hopping" but other skills were "more challenging, such as balancing on one foot (she was not fully able to balance for more than 1 second or so)."
Everyone knows that if you can't stand on one foot, you'll never get anywhere in life.