I’ve written before about the difficulty of fitting in with the various school playground cliques.
You can be ostracized for the strangest of reasons.
For instance, a friend of mine, “P” found herself roundly criticized for being vegetarian.
Even more ‘scandalous’ was the fact that “P” was bringing her son up to be vegetarian.
On an unseasonably hot afternoon at a children’s party at our local playcentre (all echoing hall, dank toilets and uninspired menu choices – actually, make that one menu choice, one hot dog sausage in an unbuttered white roll), matters came to a head when the little boy in question said, quite reasonably, that he could not eat the sausage.
Nobody had thought to ask about ‘special dietary requirements’.
“P” was not actually with her son at the time, having dropped him off and left him in the care of a group of women she considered to be her friends.
Despite the fact that there was a bowl of fruit on the counter, any item of which would have been suitable to stave off the poor child’s hunger pangs, the mums in question later roundly berated “P” for her inconvenient food choices and told her “there was nothing her little boy could eat”.
This was said in a way which implied that raising a child to be vegetarian was likely to stunt their growth as well as cause untold problems for others at children’s outings and parties.
The fact that “P”‘s little boy had left the party hungry and had probably been made to feel, at the very least, different, totally escaped them.
This was the beginning of the end of “P”‘s friendship with this particular group of women.
Actually, I think the real reason they found fault with her was that “P” was bright, bubbly and outgoing.
One of the kind of people who bring sunshine into a room.
Petty though this incident is, it shows, I think, that some people will go to any lengths to isolate those who threaten them – a measure, doubtless, of their own insecurities and low self -esteem.
And for the record, it is safe to bring up children as vegetarian or vegan, provided you make sure that their diets contain the necessary nutrients.
You can find advice from the NHS here.
Have you ever been excluded for the way you feed your kids?