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Published: Verve Magazine, Musings, December 2009

Oh how we long to be young! Ironically, the young long to be mature and sophisticated. Mud wrestles and creamy cakes are not child-friendly anymore – the quotient has been upped with designer parties, kiddie spas and island hopping on private jets. The one-upmanship is like parental roulette and the trust-fund babies hold the strings to throwing a mean party, Russian circus et al, finds SITANSHI TALATI–PARIKH

I COME FROM THE ERA OF BRIGHT balloons, candy floss, Goriawala’s chocolate cake and deliciously buttery Camy wafers. It sounds like a cliché, but I don’t know where in the space of two decades childhood became a cliché and sophisticated maturity became the new youth buzzword. Recently, at a Verve A-lister party, I was amazed to see that these Chanel-bearing, Choo-tapping and Vuitton-wearing younglings (under 25, mind you) carried themselves with an air that made them out to be well beyond their years. They eyed the paparazzi through the fringes of their long masacara-ed lashes, simpered and smiled, posed and pirouetted with feline grace. I was almost embarrassed to think back to the gauche teenager I used to be. Carrie and Samantha – the ultimate echelons of style and sophistication – shared my concern in Sex and the City. Where the Hamptons are taken over by beer-spouting kids and ‘grassy’ romps on the beach, childhood has entirely gone to pot. Besides ruminating on questions like ‘where has the childhood gone?’ and ‘why must everyone be in such a tearing hurry to grow up?’ we arrive at the things people are doing to grow up super fast.

Ever heard of the ‘sparty’? Let’s take it a step further, ever heard of a ‘sparty’ for eight-year-old divas? So, you pick a cool spa like Rudra, Myrah or your favourite deluxe hotel, pack off the little pretty-somethings for a day of relaxation and detoxification – because of course education can be so stressful nowadays. Primping and softening the tresses, pedicures and manicures, will have them looking the best for their play dates. It’s a fabulous way for the little girls to bond and create lasting friendships. After all, every girl worth her bath salt knows that the secrets shared at the most vulnerable – attending to the most exquisite feminine rituals – are secrets that will last a lifetime.

That’s probably still rather tame compared to having an entire Russian circus troupe flown in for a birthday – I mean you can’t get more global than that. But then, Raj Kapoor was a trendsetter in many ways – though the poor chap may be turning over in his grave at the thought of the fresh age group his ideas now cater to. So custom-made Hello Kitty invitations-and-theme-parties probably don’t stand a chance against a Russian circus, but then what are the less fortunate to do?

Pyjama parties – sleepovers – are still in, apparently. It always helps to read the updated fine print – because you might find your knickers in a twist when you realise that sleepovers come with a spanking new avatar. I may have studied at a co-educational school, but believe me, my mother would have not stood for mixed-sex sleepovers without parental control (she probably wouldn’t have stood for it even with parental control). The buzz is in on a recent sleepover of seven-year-old boys and girls at a premium luxury hotel: a heavy-duty suite booked to accommodate the growing demands of the kids, who probably enjoyed an out-of-control and slightly racier version of not-so-Home-Alone part deux. I’m guessing they weren’t just painting toenails, or is that just me?

For the concerned parents who prefer chaperoned luxe, they are careful to plan a trip for the mommies as well as their darlings – all flown out to an exotic locale – logistically preferably to a nearby country, like Koh Samui, in Thailand – to bring in the birthday of their special little someone amid Thai massages and palate-stinging curries. To be honest, however, birthday bashes at luxury hotels are passé unless they happen to be an entire island – secluded and completely private. American reality show Paradise Hotel comes alive with a private jet flying the closest friends of the 16-and-18-year-olds to the Vivanta Coral Reef (by Taj), Maldives – the latest hip resort perfect for the swish set to unwind with tantalising curry Martinis. The new avatar of the resort sits well with those willing to party hard rather than just sunbathe. The long weekend is sunny and bright: with a private cruise liner floating around, just waiting to be boarded and there is no better way to get the perfect tan that will be flaunted when back in the city.

iPhone-wielding kids in the age group of four-10 are generally used to being cajoled with TAG Heuer watches and Mercedes cars – because toys and books just don’t cut it anymore. BlackBerry phones are the order of the day for the busy eight-year-olds because they can always get a ‘BlackBerry thumb’ massage to release the stress from their little fingers at a ‘sparty’ later. And the outfits are chosen with determined precision and care – a pre-planned outing to Emporio in Delhi (or the equivalent in your urban centre) is required to make the spectacularly difficult decision between a chic Moschino and Marc Jacobs outfit for the little one who has about a decade to go before her debut into haute society.

So it is not exactly surprising that these kids as teenagers frequent hip nightclubs for their exclusive private parties – tables booked, champagne flowing, and an open tab running – where the kids I’ve seen, look no older than 12. Okay, they’re probably 14 or 15. Where celebratory escapades to Alibaug homes, on daddy’s private jets to Jaipur, Goa beach houses and Ibiza raves are the flights of fancy, I’m guessing this is the point where parents stop being too concerned about their ‘naïve’ kids taking a wrong turn when headed abroad – like making headway during Spring Break at a Cancun foam party or breaking the ice when at a semester-at-sea course.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about throwing the party of the century. The cyberworld, paparazzi and glossy magazines should all be buzzing with reverential whispers of your budding creative genius. In whichever way you choose to package your baby’s luxe bash (no pressure, of course), ultimately it is merely a test of your imagination, creativity and trust fund that gives it the right touch of extraordinaire. After all, it is going to set the standard for your child’s future endeavours.