This Saturday, millions of Americans will sit on a grassy field in camp chairs and watch their young children enthusiastically ignore a soccer ball. American Youth Soccer is where families of all backgrounds get to watch their children get their collective arses handed to them by That Other Team that has a child from a Country That Takes Soccer Seriously.
One of the great traditions in American Youth Soccer is the apres-game snack. Like all things in our society today, the snack we bring makes a statement to all of the other parents about what kinds of parents we are pretending to be.
Choosing an appropriate snack is a highly complex calculation involving nut allergies, ratio of SUVs to Minivans on the team, multiple calls to Miss Cleo, and a soul-searching evaluation of how much you hate that mom who wears the triathlon gear LIKE IT’S HER FRICKIN JOB.
To help you navigate this potential minefield of social stigma Nostrikethat Industries has compiled a handy reference guide. Want to make a statement next Saturday?
Sliced Oranges, the way God intended. It’s a food and a drink all in one, which is evidence of His Perfect Vision. If He had wanted us to have something different, He would not have given us the miracle of the High School Music Booster Fruit Sale.
The Warehouse Clubbers
Pre-sliced apples in the individually wrapped plastic packages and a 2 boxes of Capri-suns. The apple slices are a nod to healthy snacks, and the capri-suns come 4 boxes to a SKU so you can give two away and still have enough for lunches for a while. Alternately, substitute individually-wrapped mini blueberry muffin packages if you’re feeling saucy.
The Stopped On the Way to the Gamers
Big bag or box full of little potato chip bags and a case of Snapple. Look, they were in adjacent aisles and we left the van running in the bag pick up lane because after the morning we’ve had we’re cashing in some karma, okay?
The Trader Joes
Whatever the heck they’re calling granola bars and juice boxes this week (Trader José’s Montezuma Granola?), served from the Trader Joe’s reusable shopping bag because Trader Joe’s is the most amazing grocery store ever and way better than Whole Paycheck although we have to shop there sometimes because I like to buy quinoa in bulk. Trader Joes.
The Enlightened Followers of Food That Is Twice Half
Organic vegan nut-free flax muffins with fair trade coconut water, served on hemp napkins that were lovingly hand-selected on the family’s last eco-tour vacation to Guatemala. Namaste, y’all.
The Sugar Polizei
Hand-sliced carrots and raisins in a snack bag and mini water bottles. I care deeply about my family’s health, and as a result your children will learn a lesson today about politely saying thank you for the carrots. I hope we win today because no one has ever drowned their sorrows in raisins, either.
The Still Three Days to Paydayers
Pink lemonade in a pitcher and sketchy looking grapes. Look, this game is Saturday and we get paid again next Tuesday and I know what I should get but I had to choose between a haircut and new underwear this month so you get what I have in my pantry and the kids are just going to take marshmallows to school on Monday because we won’t have any grapes left but we have to keep up appearances because God help us if someone discovers we’re one of the 80% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.
The Pixie Stick Partiers
Varies, but tends towards gatorade bottles and mini tins of pringles, occasionally with leftover Halloween candy thrown in if it’s late in the season. The kid who’s parents bring these is automatically the default game MVP, even as his parents themselves get the Stink Eye from every other parent in the tri-county area. Time may heal all wounds, but 210 grams of sugar at 11 AM turns that frown upside down in time for the 11:30 piano lesson.
We are so, so judging you. Choose wisely.
This post is dedicated to my mom friend Roger, who is a total Sugar Police. Roger I know you’re reading this, love ya babe 😉
It seemed like a simple enough homework problem: given a fixed position of flowers and two known positions of the sun, describe the waggle dance a bee would perform. I mean, bees can manage it, I would think us homo facebookus would be able to manage it, too.
two hours later, we were no closer to the solution. We had tried two dimensional drawings. we had tried three dimensional model layouts. We scaled up the problem to include a cast of actors:
- My Lovely Daughter, performing the role of the Waggling Bee
- Suckup Dog, performing the role of the flowers because he got some people food for dinner and was both fragrant and immobile
- Yours truly, performing as the sun, moving across the sky and eventually out of the house in order to set properly
- Eldest Son, in the role of Omniscient Observer Who Is Cranky And Stressed Out That He Can’t Play Minecraft Because He Has To Do This Stupid Bee Assignment And Everyone In The Class Was Going To Get It Right But Him
- Mrs. Nostrikethat, representing herself, trying hard not to pee her pants
Even Wikipedia was of no particular help, in large part because the diagram had a Greek letter on it, and I didn’t know what that meant, and because Eldest Son was convinced that whatever I said was stupid.
I’m not making this stuff up, folks.
If there’s one thing you develop an appreciation for as a parent of four children, it’s the ritual of the Back to School night.
By “develop an appreciation for” I mean “loathe with an intensity reserved for people who take up two parking spaces.”
In the Nostrikethat household, we have two versions of the Back to School Night: the Mommy version and the Daddy version.
In the Mommy Version, the Mommy:
- Sits in the cafeteria with all of the other parents
- Watches all of the PowerPoint slides
- Takes copious notes
- Goes to the classroom
- Admires the handiwork of the all the students, not just ours
- Makes note of the entire seating arrangement of the class for future conversation with the child
- Leaves a loving, supportive note on the child’s desk
- Stays for the grade level presentation
- Takes additional notes
- Mingles with other parents in the classroom afterwards
The Daddy Version looks a little different:
- Stand in the back of the room thinking rude thoughts about everyone who dressed up
- Roll eyes at PowerPoint slides
- Leave early to go to the classroom
- Scrawl “DADDY WUZ HERE” on a sticky note borrowed from the teacher’s desk and leave it on a student’s desk
- Hope you got the right desk
- Sneak out the side door avoiding eye contact with other parents
This year we split it down the middle and I ended up at the Back To School Night for 5th grade. Daddy skills activate!
Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?
I was excited to learn that my school system was deploying an intricate sticker system to protect our children from homicidal maniacs.
This, combined with the “Buzz to Enter” system deployed last year, ensures my children are going to be as safe at school as they would be in a 5 floor walkup apartment.
I was also excited to learn that as part of a “Suck the Fun Out Of Life” initiative our school district will be serving broccoli and hummus at all Halloween and Valentine Day parties.
On one hand, I am happy that we are inching closer to reversing the notion that Ketchup is, in any sense, a vegetable. On the other hand, without pagan orgies both holidays have lost a little bit of their lustre and were being held together only by candy and the entire operating budget of Hallmark. I fear broccoli in the treat bag will be a fatal blow.
Recess shall remain a maximum of 30 minutes and occur immediately after lunch so the little fatties can hork up their Pepperoni Lunchables(tm).
As I stood in the back of the room the Principal (he’s my pal) discussed how math was going to “deeper” this year in the new curriculum. My neighbor was standing next to me. Because I am actually 13, I wondered out loud of it was going to be “harder” as well as “deeper”, and if they would be going “faster” too.
My neighbor turned bright red and karate-chopped me with her copy of 50 Shades of Gray.
The Lady from the PTA started talking, which I took as my cue to fake an important phone call and leave the Land of Tiny Lunch Tables.
I narrowed down my daughter’s classroom to one of four possible candidates. Fortunately, I guessed right because I found the desk that smelled like chlorine with a little bit of “Bath and Body Works Lavender Apple Makes My Nose Itch.”
Whipping out my trusty Sharpie, I proceeded to draw on her desk “I ❤ Evan” (who sits next to her) and pray fervently that Evan gets to school first.
On my way out the student teacher, who looks about 2 years older than my daughter, has finally worked up the nerve to talk to me.
“Hi! I’m Ms. Waytooyoung!”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
“Is your child in this class?”
“Excuse me, I have to take this call.”
I hit the side door just as the main herd lets out of Broccoli Central.
DADDY WUZ HERE.
The Official “Back To School Night” Drinking Game!
- When someone mentions how important you, the Parent, are, take a drink.
- When there is a technical difficulty during the presentation, take a drink.
- When an educator makes a joke about how they’re not good with computers or “that email”, chug.
- One drink each for a slide containing any of the following words: empower, vision, nurturing, community, values
- When the PTA’s fundraiser involves candles, chug.
- Whenever applause awkwardly half starts, dies a little, and then starts again, drink.
- If there is a typo on any slide, chug.
To play: print out this blog post and give it to your friends. Or hit “reload” 5 times, your choice.