Carolyn Hax: Advice

Carolyn Hax: Homeroom cupcake war may be about more than the treats

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My son is in fourth grade, and for the last five years I’ve happily agreed to bring treats to class celebrations when my turn has rolled around, as I’m an avid home baker.

The last time I took decorated cupcakes in, my son’s principal took me aside and asked me to bring in “less elaborate” treats, as it was making the other parents feel bad about their own baking skills. I couldn’t believe it.

Are the parents really thinking that because they can’t stuff a cupcake with chocolate ganache, their kids shouldn’t see pretty cupcakes ever?

Today was my turn again, so I took in much more subdued cupcakes — and a few parents still gave me dirty looks.

How should I deal with this? Can I go back to more elaborate stuff since it seems nothing short of Milanos will make these people feel better about themselves?

Simplify the Cupcakes?

Sounds like you and the fourth-grade parents need to do some emergency, dukes-down bridge-building. “Hi, Parent 1 and 2, how are you? Would you like an underachieving cupcake?”

Maybe you’ve just fallen on the wrong side of a few weenies among the class’ parents, but people generally don’t get hissy over cupcakes or (other mind-bendingly petty point of contention here) — they get hissy for other reasons and then recruit proxies, including defenseless baked goods.

My practical advice is to just make whatever cupcakes you feel like making — but also do some thinking about how you interact with your fellow parents. Never hurts to be friendly, even deliberately so, especially when you’re not feeling the love in return.

To: Cupcake: You should be happy you are allowed to bring cupcakes at all. My children’s school does not allow ANY food to be brought in to the classrooms! Not even for holidays! I cannot begin to tell you how many pencils we have accumulated.


Better an accumulation of pencils than the crapstream that flowed from one school my kids went to. I am deeply — nay, profoundly — grateful for the food ban at my kids’ current school.

Not Ganaching My Teeth

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