The bag of sweets

This happened a few weeks ago and it’s been making me fume on and off ever since. It’s such a small thing, but it’s wound me up on so many levels.

My daughter does four dance classes a week – two at each of two dance schools. The class she joined most recently and enjoys the least is tap. It’s not as cool as street or as graceful as ballet, but I think there’s another reason she doesn’t enjoy it as much.

The ballet and tap school is a bit cliquey. On ballet day she’s there with a few friends from school and a few private school kids. On tap day it’s almost entirely private school kids and she’s got just one friend from school there. Every week when we arrive, the private school kids (and the private school mums) are all chatting together. None of them acknowledge our presence. My daughter comes in quietly, changes her shoes quietly and sits quietly with me until it’s time for class to start. Nobody speaks to her or smiles at her.

A few weeks ago, the private school girls had a big bag of sweets – the sort with lots of smaller packets inside. The sort which could easily be shared by an ENTIRE tap dance class. They were chatting, giggling and sharing the sweets. With each other. Every single girl in that class had a bag of sweets apart from my daughter and her friend.

Why? Why did they do that?

I felt hurt by it and I knew my daughter would too. I hoped she wouldn’t notice, but of course she would. She’s 8 and she’s a bright, observant girl. She doesn’t miss anything.

But it was a couple of days until she mentioned it. She’d obviously been stewing over it too. Why didn’t they share? It wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair at all. If one girl had shared with her best friend only, that would have been fine. But to share with 90% of the class and leave only two out, that’s not fair. Why didn’t the girls notice? Are they so far up themselves that they just can’t see it or don’t care? Do they think they’re so much better than my daughter in their posh school? And what about the parents? Why didn’t any of them point out the two girls who didn’t have any sweets? Well, they really ARE too far up themselves. There’s no hope for them. I’m guessing there’s no hope for the girls either. They can live their selfish little lives.

My daughter is a strong person. She goes there to dance. She doesn’t go there to mess around. Not everyone could carry on if they were excluded as she is, but she’s bigger than they are. And I’m proud of her for that.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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47 Comments

  1. I would find that upsetting, but looks like more of a problem with the parents than the kids who should have enforced sharing among the whole class. Kids can be mean, it’s up to mum and dad to nip it in the bud.

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    • That’s just what I thought! Thanks very much, John.

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  2. Private school girls are just so unaware of the real world or other people in it. I was doing some face painting for a play which included a couple of kids from a very posh private school and some kids from a rougher end of town. One of there private girls turned to one of the others and asked if she was a day girl or a boarder! I had to explain the concept to the girl from the local comp, and she understood – but the girl from the private school was utterly confused by the fact that most children don’t sleep at their school, she just assumed I was wrong!

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    • Thatnks, very much for taking the time to comment, Kath. That really is incredible.

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  3. Oh how sad. I would agree with John in that it sounds more like the fault of the parents; that’s the sort of thing that they should be aware of and enforcing.

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    • Thanks very much, it definitely is. I don’t know why they didn’t see it.

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    • Thanks very much, sadly they certainly can be horrible.

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  4. That’s really unfair of them… I remember similar parents and children at my daughters ballet school when we lived in London! I would have been tempted to say something along the lines of “don’t worry darling, their sweets are obviously too good for the likes of us, we will get some better ones later”… But then I think by keeping calm and not being cross you showed the upper hand anyway, and gave your daughter a better example of how you should behave (should being the operative word!) 🙂

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    • Thanks, Emma. Glad it’s not just here, but it’s so sad.

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  5. Children can be horrible at times, and thoughtless. I’ve had similar grumbling recently with children that Kitty plays with at school but I’ve stepped back and talked to Kitty when she’s needed me. These incidents shouldn’t happen I know, but it’s all part of growing up, seeing people being mean helps shape us and prepare us for life ahead x

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    • Thanks very much. I think we’ve been lucky before as none of my kids have ever really had any problem with other kids. x

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  6. Oh this is very thoughtless of the parents, your daughter should have been included. I hope the other girls don’t ruin the experience of the dance class for her.

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    • Thanks very much. She has risen above it because she goes there to dance and not muck around, but it is a shame she gets excluded.

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  7. Oh that is such a sad story. But your worrying about it is a good thing: it shows that you are better than every person in that class.

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    • Thanks very much, that is such a lovely thing to say.

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  8. As a parent of a child in boarding school since the age of 7 now aged 15 and another 2 kids in Private Schools in the UK and South Africa I will say I’ve met many a parent like you’ve described cutting out other children from the same private school as my kids when it has come to who doesn’t get invited to a birthday party. I’ve also had children in state schools and have experienced the same kind of playground bullying.
    From experience the best thing to do is just to ignore it, although it is hard on ones child. When I’ve felt it’s been done deliberately (most of the time it was invite child of your friends only, ignore rest of class, even if it is only 1 child) I have challenged the parents, but not just to get my kids an invite to the party. i would’ve told my kids that they couldn’t have any sweets regardless of whether they were offered or not until after their tea/supper.

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    • Thanks very much, interesting to hear your perspective as you have the experience of private schools. I think parties are an issue everywhere. My daughter’s school class was ‘mixed’ at the start of this year (the reality was a small number of kids were swapped and she was one of them). When a girl in her new class invited ‘the whole class’ to her party, she didn’t invite my daughter. I like to think she just forgot rather than she deliberately excluded her. I would never be brave enough to challenge anyone on anything.
      Like you, I’m not actually keen for my daughter to eat sweets before meals, as she has a small appetite, but it’s the principle of the thing.

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  9. How rude!!! Thoughtlessness from kids is one thing, but am amazed one if the parents didn’t suggest they offered! I would take a bag if sweets in next week, and share them with everyone, just to make a point!

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    • Thanks, Sonya, that suggestion is coming from all quarters. I think maybe we will have to do that. I suspect they wouldn’t even remember that they’d had some sweets and failed to share previously.

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  10. That’s so rude. I think the worst is that the parents didn’t point out that there were two other girls in the room. Not very nice when there’s cliques that exclude certain people. It’s so immature and hurtful.

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    • The parents are definitely the worst. I don’t know why they didn’t realise – or maybe they didn’t care?

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  11. Woah!
    I went to private school and adored it! I was taught to respect others from all race and religion whether rich or poor and I came out with manners.
    I don’t think it is the fact they go try private school, I think it just a tight knit group of girls.
    Girls can be bitchy at times and the parents should have pulled them up on it or maybe they just didn’t realise…….perhaps your daughter could take in some sweets next time and share with everyone and break the ice?

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    • I’m sure not all private school kids are like this – I have met private school kids both as a child and a parent who have been very nice, but I have also met those who do come across like they are better than everyone else. These girls obviously go to the dance class straight from school and have been together all day, they don’t seem to notice anyone else in the room.
      Taking in sweets ourselves is a good suggestion, thanks.

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  12. I have come across this at my daughters school too drives me mad. Some of the parents took a dislike to me and so my daughter is usually the only one who doesn’t get invited to certain parties. She’s only 8 but the parents are just wrong for doing it and it’s not fair on the kids because they do notice even if they don’t say anything. My daughter is 8 aswell and they are more aware of things than we give them credit for sometimes

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    • That’s really awful, sorry to read this. We’ve been lucky never to have come across cliquey behaviour before. My daughter has a small group of good friends, but is well-liked by everyone, so this came as a bit of a shock to us.

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  13. There are nice private school kids and horrible, ill-manned private school kids. There are nice kids with brown hair and snotty kids with brown hair. The colour of their hair is as immaterial as the cost of their education. They’re just ill-mannered kids, and attributing their behaviour to their “posh school” is probably a bit of your own prejudice, to be fair. Which in no way takes away from the fact that they were horrible kids, of course.

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    • You’re right, Sally. There is a bit of my prejudice in there. They have reinforced my stereotypes (and, yes, I know stereotypes are wrong, but I believe anyone who says they don’t stereotype is a liar). They could have come from a different state primary school and I would still have written the post. Fundamentally, they excluded my daughter and made us both feel like we didn’t belong and that is wrong.

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  14. Regardless of the girls background, that is just rude and disgraceful behaviour. I hope your daughter and her friend realise they are the better people in this.

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    • Thanks very much, Aly, that is such a lovely thing to say.

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  15. Having read the other comments, I’m inclined to agree with Sally here. Kids naturally form cliques, whatever the common ground is, regardless of background. Very sad for your daughter and horrible of the other girls but personally I think the parents are to blame. Just for the record, I have some very nice friends whose children are privately educated and there are some downright snooty parents at our state primary!

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    • The parents are most definitely to blame. Like you, I have met some nice kids and parents from private schools, but I haven’t met snobby parents at our primary school (which has a very mixed demographic). We are lucky that we have never come across cliquey behaviour before, so it was a new and unpleasant experience for us.

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  16. Could it have been that the parents hadn’t noticed what was happening? Sometimes children just need reminding. If you think they are deliberately excluding her perhaps she might like to take in some treats to offer around next week – it might just make them think. I’m quite sure the fact that they are privately educated is really not a factor here.

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    • It is quite possible the parents didn’t notice what was happening, but I think good parents WOULD notice. If one child had sweets to share with one friend, that would be fine, but if that child had a large bag of sweets and was sharing with 90% of the class, the parents should notice the two they are excluding. I agree this could have happened with state school kids and I would have written it then too, but in this case it wasn’t state school kids.
      Taking in our own bag of sweets to share certainly seems like a popular suggestion, thanks.

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  17. So sorry your daughter has felt left out, although I’m glad she was able to talk to you about it later. Kids can be thoughtless sometimes – they don’t realise that something small to them is a big deal to someone else. I hope together you can find a way to break the ice with those girls (and their parents!), or that you can find another class where she’ll feel more comfortable. x

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    • Thanks very much, Ruth. I hope my daughter can rise above it and doesn’t feel the need to find another class because I think if she leaves this one she will be dropping tap dance for good. My husband’s feeling was that she should go somewhere else, but I don’t think that’s really the answer.

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  18. I am afraid we are all prone to this kind of events. All we have to do is to make them learn how to keep their chin up regardless.

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    • Thanks very much, Otilia. You are so right.

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  19. as the parents of children who go to private school it angers me that this is attributed to the fact the girls go to a private school. And can’t possibly just be girls maybe being girls.

    Not defending this. Your daughter was clearly upset and that is wrong.

    But blaming private education for this is equally wrong.

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    • Maybe it was just girls being girls. But they were girls there with their parents, who could have intervened and pointed out the two girls who were being excluded – but they didn’t.
      As I’ve said to others, I would have written this post if it had been kids from another state primary who excluded my daughter.
      I have met lots of nice people from private school and lots of less nice people, just as I have from state schools.
      My daughter was upset by the thoughtless behaviour of others who happened to come from a private school, so I wrote the post. I make no apologies for that.

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  20. Out of curiosity, were the private school girls all from the same school (i.e. they knew each other) or were they from different schools?

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    • They’re from the same school. I think they all travel there straight from school after spending the whole day together. No wonder they don’t notice the rest of us.

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      • Ah then I am less annoyed by this. I would have screamed snobbery if they formed a clique from different private schools, but clearly they were only operating within their established social sphere. Kids are still learning social norms. If they don’t know your daughter very well then it might be awkward for them to reach out the hand of friendship. Speaking as a socially inept person myself I can safely say that what you consider to be standoffish behaviour might just be someone who feels awkward about making a new friend.

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  21. Pants pants pants…its horrible when our kids are left out isn’t it. Nothing hurt so much as our kids being hurt. we just have to teach our s right form wrong and to be kind and inclusive . I always ctell my two you can’t cant change other people you just have to look at your own behaviour and make sure you do your best .

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    • That sounds like very sensible advice! Thanks very much.

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  22. Awww, that’s shocking behaviour…kids can be so mean can’t they?

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    • They certainly can 🙁 Thanks very much.

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