Friday, May 19, 2006

Bah Humbug Snack Parent

There's not a way of talking about this without sounding like either a self-righteous (probably vegetarian) health food proponent, or a child hater. I'm trying to decide which is worse.

If you've ever had a child who has played a sport, you know what "snack parent" is. If not, this is how it works. You're sitting quietly at the first game, minding your own business, hoping your kid isn't the kid who causes the gut-wrenching loss, when suddenly someone passes you a sign-up sheet: Snack Parent. The dates of play are listed and you are told it will be your responsibility to bring all the little players their after-game snacks. You think about your schedule and choose a date you know you will be available. The call-to-duty is a heavy one; missing a child's game (or God-forbid having your child miss a game because YOU have other obligations--simply unheard of) is bad enough, but missing a game where you are the Snack Parent would be unthinkable.

My family eats dinner together, sitting at the table with cloth napkins. This supposedly prevents future psychopathology, at least in the children. We sit down together at what should be a civilized meal and everyone grabs the food in a rapid free-for-all. The point being, I don't want my kids eating snacks right before we sit down to dinner. And if I did, I'd want some control over the snacks; soda and chips just don't feel like wholesome appetizers.

Okay, so yesterday I was Snack Parent. I'd like to bring carrots, but I visualize my children lying on the analyst's couch saying "Everyone else's mom brought Reese's Cups, My mother brought carrots." The cost alone is enough to drive me to the bakery, and the Guilt-- let's not even go there. Neither, however, compare to the punishment that would be meted out by the carrot-bearing child who will never again be able to show his face.

Back to yesterday. First, I'd never signed up (hmmm, must have overlooked the sheet that day) and I'd gotten an e-mail from the coach pointing out that our family was one of only three families shirking Snack Parent responsibilities. I thought I already did Snack Parent, in fact I did it on my kid's birthday and actually brought cupcakes. Oops, right kid, wrong team. I emailed back a Snack Parent-acceptable date and received email confirmation. Okay, our family springtime activity calendar looks like the military plan for invasion of an enemy nation. I knew there would be no time to Get The Snacks, and so, staring at the diagrams of who-goes-where, I ran out days in advance to Target. I lingered in front of the individual packages of bear-shaped graham crackers in 100-calorie packs. This couldn't be too bad. They come in 12 packs, there are 13 girls on the team. I took two and headed to the drink aisle. As fate would have it, on my way I passed an Orthodox Jewish couple which reminded me that two of the girls on the team are Orthodox Jews. Are bear-shaped graham crackers Kosher? I stared at the package, turned it over and upside down, and could find nothing that would indicate they were Kosher. Back to the snack aisle where I settled on Cheez-Its shaped like SpongeBob Square Pants, 160 calories/package. I surrendered and bought them. The juice aisle yielded similar problems, and I purchased little bottles of water. This, I was sure, would work, and maybe she'll get by on twice-a-week psychotherapy. The schedule failed, my other child's game was canceled, requiring that I somehow be in two places at once, and a neighbor had to pinch-hit because I was Snack Parent. So, the story ends and the Blog Post begins when another family also showed up with snacks: a large assortment of candy bars and cans of Dr. Pepper. The bottled water and SpongeBob Cheez-its were left untouched. I'm just hoping we can find a psychoanalyst with side-by-side Mother/Child couches and two-for-the-price-of-one coupons.