One of my students was celebrating a birthday. Her parent approached me in the morning and asked if she could bring cupcakes for the class at the end of the day. Since our school doesn't have a policy banning outside food and I don't have students with common allergies, and we don't have cupcakes often, I didn't see any problem with her suggestion. In the meantime, the student told her friends that they were going to have these delicious treats later. The parent and I worked out a time, approximately 2o minutes before dismissal. As the day wore on, several of my students asked me about the cupcakes and I explained the schedule and highlighted when we would have them ( after small group work time, of course).
As it got closer to dismissal time and the parent did not arrive, I began to worry. I checked my closet and had no worthy substitute. Many of my students struggle with anxiety around food anyway. We started working on what I had originally planned but I could see that many of my students were distracted, they were looking around the room and staring at the door. In what felt both like a split second and an enormously long amount of time, the day was over. I pulled the birthday student aside and told her that she would probably celebrate her birthday at home. I explained to other students that I wasn't sure what happened and that I was sorry I had told them about cupcakes and they didn't get to have any.
I zipped up the last student's coat and tugged one more backpack onto a student's back when the parent walked in with a tray of cupcakes. 36 cupcakes for 11 students. Decorated to the sky with frosting and candy. She said she had car trouble. I explained that the school day was over and suggested that she take the cupcakes home and bring them back the next day. We have had had pests before in the building and I don't want to encourage their return by leaving the sweet treats around. The parent and most of my class glared at me as if I was the Wicked Witch.
The parent went on to suggest that each student take a cupcake "to-go", as if I was running a fast food place. Half of my kids take the bus and they can't take food on the bus. I know I did what I had to do. I know I was there, doing my part. But still, I can't help but feeling like I lied to the kids, like I let them down. And I will be thinking very carefully about what to do, and what to say when a situation involving birthday celebrations at school arises again.