At the end, the children were asked to line up at the base of the stage. The PTA VP said, "Every child who came tonight will get a prize if they cluster around the steps to the stage. C and several other small children were at the side of the stage. The bigger children (read middle school) clustered in the middle. The parents began tossing candy and spirit wear out to the middle of the crowd, totally ignoring the sides. The large kids in the middle jumped and knocked into the other kids, knocking them over. C was thrown to the ground, which was rather horrifying to watch as I was on the other side of the cafeteria. She picked herself up, hurt but unbroken. One of the parents throwing items noticed the skirmish on the side, looked straight at C and the little boy beside her, and tossed a couple of pieces of candy to them. The big kids on their left again shoved them over and greedily grabbed the candy. By the time C and the little boy next to her picked herself up, there was nothing left. The parent on the stage just looked at them and shrugged.
I know they are kids, and I know this is normal for kids, although it seemed a bit brutish. I wouldn't have minded if C hadn't gotten anything had the woman not clearly made the announcement about all kids getting a treat. Poor C got nothing except a bruise. She came back to me, chin quivering, but determined to put on a brave face. "Mommy," she said, "I'm not going to cry. It's been a good Friday. I am disappointed I didn't get anything, but it's OK." I thought, "Please don't look at me, because I'M going to cry." I can't help it. She's five. She deserves SOMETHING after that pronouncement! She looked into my face, stuffed her fingers in her mouth, and wailed, "They wouldn't even look at me! I tried so hard, I stood on the side and waited my turn, but they ignored me." I am embarrassed to say I lost it myself for a moment. Her disappointment and misery was just too much for me. It's not the candy. I can buy her candy. She is taught to use her manners, to wait her turn, to behave and share, and then when she demonstrates her manners, she's stiffed because this time mob mentality and might are rewarded. Don't get me wrong - I think kids have to learn difficult lessons, and we had a great talk on the way home about how sometimes you may not get a reward, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice your best manners at all time. But to be knocked about and trampled by older kids...ignored by those giving treats...to be left out is really painful.
The positive to this story is that as she sobbed on my shoulder, kids suddenly materialized all around her offering a piece of starburst candy or a lollipop. She accepted a few pieces, thanking each child. Then she started directing children to the little boy at the end of the table who also didn't get anything. Other kids around suddenly began checking with each other: "Did you get anything? Here, I got two pieces..." etc. I have to admit, I was nearly undone again. Darned hormones!
Kids have to learn that things don't always go their way. There is an appropriate time for each type of behavior. I also believe you shouldn't knock over or beat up other kids, especially smaller kids. I'm not a helicopter parent. But still, watching my child in that surging and trampling mob was upsetting! Maybe it's just something parents have to get used to, but I sure do not want to see that again! But I am gratified to see the generous spirit of some of those children. Shows they have good parents! Makes you wonder where the kids of those PTA parents were...