Soccer snack shaming

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.

 

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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?

Read on.

The Traditionalists

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.

I heard it through the grapevine that your momma is laaaaame
I heard it through the grapevine that your momma is laaaaame

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.

AND REMEMBER–

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 😉

 

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What’s for dinner?

Aside from “your sister’s hot”, I can’t think of three words more contentious in a marriage than “what’s for dinner?” From personal experience, I have been nearly divorced several times over just for wondering out loud what the plans for dinner were.

It is, I admit, a loaded question. I am no stranger to kitchens or cooking… I probably prepare 2-3 of the family meals a week, by my own completely biased estimation. I do not, however, plan any of them. Therein lies the problem.

Food equals love

I keep hearing about the five love languages, so I googled it and discovered that according to wikipedia they are “ giftsquality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch“. I can tell you immediately that the author is clearly not Italian, because there would be a sixth love language, and that’s Food. You might be inclined to write it off as an act of service, but to me very clearly if you feed me you love me.

Sometimes this gets complicated. Via lovescott.com

I know this is dumb and I try to tell myself that just because my son doesn’t want to eat my experimental Indian kabobs he still loves me, but it does get in the way of otherwise normal social interactions. For example: this weekend.

I found myself in a rare situation this weekend where most of the family was out before lunch, so I started to make an absurdly elaborate lunch for everyone. When I was all finished I checked my phone, because by now it was getting late and I was getting worried, and I saw a text message.

We were starving, stopped for lunch, be home soon.

I was angry. Blindly, irrationally angry. I realized I was angry, and it was irrational, but I couldn’t stop feeling angry about it.

HOW DARE THEY REJECT MY LOVE.

At least that’s what it felt like. It felt like betrayal. She never stops for lunch. She must have done it on purpose.

Mrs. Nostrikethat arrived home to find me banging pots and pans in the kitchen sink, trying to clean up.

“Everything okay?”

“It’s fine.”

“Okay… because if that pan was a child I would be calling CPS right now.”

“… You stop for lunch and therefore rejected my love and I know it’s stupid but I’m upset and you asked and just leave me alone I’ll get over it after I get done cleaning the giant mess I made in the kitchen.”

“Okay… I’m just going to wait. Over. Here.”

Bordering on obsession

I will wake up in the morning and start thinking about dinner. In fact, I have been known to think about tomorrow’s dinner while eating tonight’s. I live to eat, and I’m lucky enough to have an inefficient metabolism. Consequently, I can still eat pretty close to whatever I imagine.

To me, dinner is a World of Possibilities! and therefore requires intense planning and commitment. I need to know if I have to take something out of the freezer to defrost, or do I have to marinate something, or will dinner magically be ready when I’m hungry? Anything could happen, it’s magic dinner time!

To my wife, dinner is a lot more like this:

Only with more box of wine. Image via takechargemama.com

 

Daily meal preparation is a grind. Especially when you’re cooking for children, most of whom would just eat hot dogs eight days a week if you let them. With three swimmers in the family I’m not even the loudest voice wanting to know what the plan is, just the one with access to text messages.

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It’s bizarre I know, but this is pretty much what’s going on in my head. With all of the uncertainty in my life, I like the predictability of knowing where my next meal is coming from, when it’s coming, and if I have to do anything to make it come on time.

 Salvation! (almost)

I’d like to add at this point before I go from “almost divorced” to “actually divorced” that not only is Mrs. Nostrikethat an accomplished cook, but she has delivered countless meals under pressure, and often single-handedly, to a less than enthusiastic audience. Despite there being a thousand and one different ways to cook chicken, it’s a moot point if none of the kids will even glance at one thousand of them. There’s maddeningly little room for creativity and despite both of our best efforts we tend to have 4-5 meals in heavy rotation with another dozen or so making regular appearances. The meal planning gets done when the grocery list is made and everyone always gets fed. Still, Mrs. Nostrikethat is always on the lookout for ways to make everything go smoothly, so we invested in a chalkboard.

For two weeks, it was bliss.

Right there, in the kitchen, was My Week In Dinner. It was amazing. Then this started happening:

chalkboard

So. Close.

Dinners are still happening, of course. Meals are still being planned and executed, usually by not-me. I clearly have no room to complain, but I do anyways because I’m a Man of a Certain Age and that’s what we do best.

Besides growing hair in all the wrong places. I am awesome at that too.

A parable

There’s a zen koan I picked up somewhere that’s stuck with me, probably because it’s about dinner.

The simple man wakes up in the morning, does his work, and wonders what’s for dinner. The complex man wakes up in the morning, does his work, and worries about the problems of the world. The enlightened man wakes up in the morning, does his work, and wonders what’s for dinner.

I thought at one point that I was overly simplistic. If we are to believe Ye Old Timey Folk Wisdom, two of a man’s three favorite things are supposed to be beer and food, and I would definitely self-identify with being a man. After some reflection, I don’t think I’m overly simplistic– in fact my problem is exactly the opposite. I have too much on my mind. In a world where decision fatigue is a real thing, I just want someone else to make the decision for me. I’m happy to help, I’m happy to do as I’m told, I just need to know because maybe, just maybe, enlightenment awaits.

Or meatloaf. Either way, I’m good.

 


 

This post is dedicated with all of my heart to Mrs. Nostrikethat, who gets to work early and stays late every single day despite hazardous working conditions and abysmal pay. I kid because I love dear. 🙂

The Ice Cream War

Gather around ol’ ‘Granpappy, kids. Did I ever tell you about the great Ice Cream War of ’14? Tommy, go get ol’ Granpappy some more vino out of the box there… that’s a good boy. Tellin’ stories is thirsty work…

Double-standard Espresso, Please

I admit I am a bit “funny” about food.

I generally believe that there is far too much added sugar, salt, and fat in the foods we eat. I also believe that if I don’t get my Utz Potato Chips (ingredients: potatoes, sunflower oil, salt) to go with my Jif Peanut Butter and store-brand Grape Jelly sandwich at lunch, there is no justice in the world, and someone is going to get shanked.

Some people call this hypocrisy–I call it being human.

someecard-hypocrite

As a parent, it’s even more perplexing. I can just about convince myself to believe any given set of arbitrary set of rules I want to follow, but my four kids are like a cheese-grater for rules.

“What about chicken nuggets? It’s chicken! That’s healthy!”

Why can’t we have chocolate chip pancakes? They’re home-made!”

Can I have a Popsicle? You said it was mostly water!”

Daddy, you’re making that up!”

If the rules are not self-evident, they take a disproportionate amount of effort to defend, and eventually get abandoned because it’s not important enough to waste my precious energy on.

It’s exhausting.

One by one, all of my pre-conceived rules and beliefs that I started with on my parenting journey have shriveled up and died under constant, relentless assault.

No TV in the car? Gone.

No juice on the couch? Gone.

We will all sit down and eat all our meals together? So, so gone.

7zg0n

I am down to just a handful of guiding principles:

  1. Keep a low profile
  2. Handle your business and I’ll leave you alone
  3. Don’t make life more difficult for anyone else if you can help it
  4. You can’t always control what gets done to you, but you must control how you react
  5. Hot things are hot

This works pretty well for the most part, although I struggle with “Hot things are hot” at the expense of my children’s vocabulary far too frequently.

I scream you scream

There’s a new development around the corner from us that has 5-story townhouses in it. My wife and I were on our way to a rare lunch date, and driving through the development we had a flash of inspiration.

“Are those… 5 story houses?”

“Wow, yeah, that’s a lot of stairs. Imagine all of the stomping up and down our kids do now, and then multiply that by five.”

“… wait, I think you’re on to something here. ‘Get back down here missy and stomp up those stairs again. All the way up! No that wasn’t loud enough, come all the back down and do it again!’ ”

“…You’re evil, but that’s brilliant.”

Our daughter, in particular, has decided that the Stair Stomp Of Death is her most favoritest way to register her disapproval with homework, insufficient sprinkles on her donuts, and/or she’s hungry and there is no food in her mouth yet.

STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp STOMP STOMP SLAM

Today alone, we’ve managed to get three separate runs up the stairs squeezed in between breakfast and bedtime.

I am negotiating with the electronic toll people to have a toll lane installed on our stairs for express-stomping during rush hour.

The most recent altercation involved ice cream.

Daddy can I have some ice cream?

“No.”

Pleeeease?”

“Um… no.”

You never let me have any ice cream? Why do you even buy it?”

“Yes, that last time I scooped out Ice Cream for you, I never let you have any.”

“DADDY.”

“I said no. And now I’m throwing it away because I’m tired of arguing about it. Again.”

Daddy NooooOOOOOOOoooooOOOOO!

“Yes.”

Ice cream goes into trashcan. Daughter fishes ice cream out of trashcan. A scuffle ensues. An arm is bitten.

STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp STOMP STOMP SLAM

“Aaaaand now you’re grounded until Monday.”

DAAA-DY!!!”

No more ice cream.

50sdad1

What I meant to say was…

The thing is, I don’t really know why I make such a big deal about this. I mean, it’s only ice cream. We buy it. It’s illogical to buy it and not eat it. It just just doesn’t feel right, I guess. For me, that’s really the core issue. One of the lies I tell myself is that I am a consistent and reasonably rational person. If I can’t explain my actions, are they really sound?

So here’s what I really meant to say:

Dearest Daughter,

I know you wanted Ice Cream tonight. You made that abundantly clear. I also made abundantly clear that the answer was “No Ice Cream”. I don’t have the energy right now to properly explain my philosophy on nutrition and parenting, and even if I did you really  just don’t have the life experience to understand it because, contrary to what you think, you’re 10 going on 11 and not 10 going on 21. For now, you’re just going to have to accept “Because” as an answer. I hope we both live long enough to see you realize why.

Love always,

Daddy

PS- My arm still hurts, so you’re still grounded.