All week long I have been fizzing in anticipation of the Kimye baby. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (a.k.a. Kimye, in case you’ve been living under a rock) have combined their celebrated DNA to produce a glistening specimen of modern beauty and fame – the mammalian equivalent of Damien Hirst’s glittering diamond skull. Due in July and still barely a billow under Kimmy’s Dolce & Gabbana jeggings, already the preparations are so elaborate they are setting Google agog.
The latest news, reported in every uncharted corner of the Internet, is that the couple are building a $2-million “nanny wing” on the back of their Bel Air mansion to house the team of staff being hired in advance of the new arrival. The vast extension is said to comprise three large bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen/living area, separate nursery and a full-service spa for the team of live-in staff who will be hired to care for the most anticipated Hollywood baby since Brangelina put their international munchkin hunt on pause. When Kimye finally replicates, there will be not one but three full-time, live-in nannies to assist in the first diaper change – an event that will undoubtedly be undertaken with the grave trepidation usually reserved for detaching Siamese twins and will likely be simulcast instantly around the planet.
On the opposite end of the spectrum and also due in July is the other royal baby, the one currently gestating in the narrow, insufficiently insulated environs of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Like the Kimye baby, the royal baby will be queen or king – and not just of the TV ratings or the Billboard charts but of several countries (a ragged little Empire in fact) including our own. That baby, it was recently announced, will not be having a nanny. Instead, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Kate, who, according to Palace sources, wish to be “hands-on parents,” will have part-time sitters to attend to their child when they are at public events. It’s an unprecedented break with royal tradition, which has long seen the nanny at the centre of the royal household, and a great historical comfort for children with duty-bound, corgi-obsessed parents. Prince William, in fact, was so close to one of his early nannies that Princess Diana is said to have replaced her in a jealous fit.
Amazing isn’t it, the extremes expectant couples will go to in an effort to prove, in advance of their first baby’s arrival, that they are going to be the World’s Best Parents. Both Kimye’s and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s respective plans have a certain inherent logic, but neither one is practical. Kimye’s urge to throw money at the issue is something I identify with in my own scaled-down way. (Like most expectant mothers, I spent the last month of my pregnancy furiously shopping online for stuff I didn’t need or use.) Similarly the frugal, ultra-private Kate and William approach is also understandable. I, too, was loath to accept the presence of a stranger in my house during the early days of new motherhood – until I realized it meant I could actually do fun stuff like have a shower and brush my teeth.
The fact is, it’s just as ludicrous and excessive to hire three overpaid nannies as it is self-flagellating to refuse to hire one, especially if you have work to do and can afford it (as Kate and William certainly can). What separates these famous parents from the rest of the population, however, is that they are – though their extreme approaches to childcare – attempting to transmit a public message about the sort of parents they are going to be, and how their child will be extra-specially loved as a result.
Admittedly, Kimye gets points for pulling out all the stops. Each modern-day Mary Poppins they hire will have a rumoured salary of $250,000 per annum, a private car and a new phone so that they can (according to an unnamed source) “stay in contact with Kim and Kanye around the clock.” If I were Kourtney Kardashian (if only for one magical, French-manicured afternoon), I’d take my sister aside and whisper off-camera, “Listen, babe, you do realize it’s an infant you’re expecting, not a crazy third-world despot?” Ironically, the ostensible reason for the Kimye baby prep is the couple’s need for privacy. According to the tabs, “Kim and Kanye feel it’s important to have a separate area marked off so that they can still spend time alone together as a family.” Now there’s an excellent piece of Hollywood logic: If they didn’t build the nanny wing, they couldn’t be a normal family, right?
The whole of human-parenting history could be contained in these two drastically different approaches to celebrity childcare. But the funny thing is, both the Kimye baby and the royal sprog are destined for similar fates, no matter the amount of staff they have, or don’t have, to protect them. A life of preordained exposure is something no baby deserves to be born into, no matter how beautiful, rich or privileged they might turn out to be. Who can blame new parents for trying to protect the innocent unborn, even when it’s clearly impossible?