Well next time I feel shunned by the Moms at our local playground I'll think on this story and realize it could be much worse:
Mie Taniguchi, 34, stabbed to death two five-year-old children who were playmates of her daughter last month after being ostracised by the other mothers at her local school. She had not fitted in and nor had her daughter, she told police.
Judging from her family's accounts of strange behaviour before the murders, Taniguchi was probably schizophrenic. But reports have pointed to a motive tangled up with the way other mothers treated her.
"The mummy clique is unique [to Japan]," the manager of an internet discussion board for young mothers told the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. "You suffer if they don't let you in; you suffer if you join."
The mothers' groups are mysterious, controlling and mean. Young mothers talk of the importance of the "park debut", in which a mother and child go to the playground and wait for an invitation to play from other assembled mothers.
At the school gate the signals are very clear. To be accepted into a superior mothers' gang, the clothes have to be right.
A navy dress, with short sleeves under a jacket that is buttoned from throat to hip, is worn like a uniform. No one escapes the tradition, and the higher up the scale the kindergarten is, the more essential the clothes.