It struck me the other day that I’m raising a middle-class toddler. This is by no means a bad thing – it’s just a surprising thing. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to analyse the different contextual meanings of the word “class”, discuss what measurements define different social classes or argue that the three-tier class system is outdated in the 21st Century. Instead, I just plan on using it for comedic effect and to demonstrate the fact that my toddler is way posher than me!
First, let’s go back a few years for context. On my Mum’s side, my Grandparents were working-class. My Grandma worked in numerous factories and cleaned the local school, whilst my Grandad worked for the council collecting rubbish. They were your typical working-class family. On my dad’s side, my Grandad was in the Army and my Grandma didn’t work, so I guess you could define them as being more middle-class, although they certainly weren’t posh or well-off.
When I was growing up, we were somewhere between working and middle-class, but definitely closer to the former. As a baby, my Dad was a mechanic in the day and drove a taxi at night, whereas my Mum did a bit of typing for randoms. As we got older, my Dad progressed into management roles and my Mum worked in the school office, so we slowly made the transition up the ‘class ladder’. Now, they both are self-employed, have multiple cars bla bla bla, so they’re probably middle-class, but wouldn’t identify themselves as such.
Hay and I are middle-class too. Again, we don’t feel that we are, but based on stuff like where we live, wages, house etc, we probably are. In fact, to test it, I Googled “Class calculator” and found this Great British Class Calculator from BBC News which splits people into seven class categories – as expected, we were defined as ‘technical middle class’.
Middle Class Problems: Discovering that the avocado you were going to have for lunch with bacon on toast isn’t quite ripe enough. FML.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) October 18, 2016
By association, this means that Toddler L is middle-class. That’s the least surprising of this family history lesson. Her life is a far cry from what either mine or Hay’s were like at that age, let alone our folks and their folks. It’s funny though – at nearly two and a half, she’s experienced so much more than I ever did at that age. Hell, she’s probably experienced more than I did until I was well into my teens – maybe even twenties. This leads me to the conclusion that my middle-class toddler is posher than me – here’s a few examples:
- She drinks a daily babyccino – or “baby tuna” as she calls it. For those not familiar with the baby hipster drink of choice, it’s basically hot steamed milk with foam and a sprinkling of chocolate. At that age, I doubt I had even had a hot drink – hell, I was probably eight when I had my first Horlicks.
- She’s been abroad twice (Berlin and Copenhagen) and has a third booked in for a few months time when we go to Disneyland Paris. By contrast, the first time I went abroad was when I was 11 and my first plane experience was 18. We still do UK staycations like when I was growing up, but going to a different country just wasn’t a thing when I was a kid.
- Her wardrobe is better than mine. Considering that she’s two and a bit, her clothes put mine to shame. As kids, money was tight, so most of my clothes were cheap. I distinctly remember my first ever football kit being a fake Rotherham United one from the market and enviously looking at the Kickers school shoes which we couldn’t afford. By contrast, Toddler L has an eclectic mix of clothes from supermarket to independent to (the cheaper kind of) designer. She’ll never understand the excitement I had when I got my first pair of Adidas poppers.
- Her accent is posher than mine. I wrote recently that she’s creating a north-south divide in our family with her increasingly Southern dialect. As a Yorkshire / Lincolnshire boy, hearing words mispronounced as “barth” and “plarstar” is like nails on a blackboard – or should that be “blarkboard”? Either way, her accent is certainly more in line with the posher, middle-classes than mine has been and is ever likely to be.
- Her snack choices are strange. As a kid, I was all about the chocolate. Yeah, Toddler L loves chocolate too, but she’s more than happy to snack on other more middle-class things. She eats – and actively asks for – stuff like posh popcorn, natural yogurt, granola and raw fruit and nut bars – I wouldn’t have touched any of that as a kid.
“Yogat and gwanola pwease, Daddy.”
My kid is so middle-class it hurts.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) December 19, 2016
- Continuing the food theme, she’s tasted so many different foods. Growing up, I very rarely ate anything that wouldn’t be classed as traditional British food. It wasn’t until I got to uni that things like rice and pasta formed part of my diet – we just didn’t eat it as kids. By comparison, Toddler L regularly eats things way posher than meat, potato and veg. Quinoa, lentils, hummus, pesto, kale, gnocchi, pomegranate seeds, prawns, chorizo, avocado etc etc etc – just some of the middle-class foods that she’s happy to eat.
No matter what your ‘class’ – and, indeed whether class is even a thing these days – as parents, all we want is the best for our kids. I don’t think that anyone would question that money helps with this, but it also doesn’t buy happiness. As a kid, I had a family who loved me and did everything they could to give me a nice childhood. I may not have had the latest things or gone on fancy holidays, but that didn’t matter.
I might be raising a middle-class kid who prefers Waitrose to Tesco, organic blueberries to apples and farmer’s markets to car boot sales, but ultimately she’s going to grow up with the same values that we did. The only difference will be that she (should) get more opportunities to go places, do things and experience life.
Oh, and drink babyccinos.