Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Soccer snacks

Perhaps I'm a curmudgeon. This past weekend we started our foray into organized sports. All in all, it was really fun. Dave is assistant coach for Natasha's 1st grade girls team and since we were too wimpy to manage two soccer schedules in addition to karate, tennis and art, Alex is not playing on his own team and instead is assistant assistant coach. It's pretty adorable - except for the sibling rivalry part when Natasha pushed Alex to the ground during a game of stuck in the mud.

At any rate, Natasha did well, actually running, trying and even scoring a goal. She has a tendency, like her mother, to be a bit lazy. Unlike her mother she has her father's competitive streak, so I guess that combats the laziness a bit, and did in fact, propel her to try on the field.

So after the triumphant first game, it was lunchtime. I had packed a cooler with relatively healthy snacks, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread, trail mix, yogurt, pita chips. Nothing super healthy, God forbid, like a carrot, but I hadn't gone shopping yet.

Alex found time to eat a yogurt and sandwich during the game. After the game, an incredibly thoughtful, generous parent put out a few bags of snacks. He had bought enough for the whole team, which I thought was beyond sweet. The snacks were Oreos, Goldfish and Capri Sun fruit punch. I implored Natasha to eat only one so there would be enough for everyone but then the parent kind of sheepishly said, "We bought enough for each girl to have one of each - if you want." He wasn't chastising me, just explaining that there were indeed enough packets.

So rather than stage a pitched battle with my daughter in front of all the parents I had never met, I let her have one of each, but wouldn't let her drink the Capri Sun. I'm sure it was something like 600 calories of crap (a kid that age needs about 1300/day) and of course she didn't eat lunch.

I was so irritated. Not with the man, he was just being nice. But partly with my giving in to let her have both, and before lunch no less, and partly with the whole culture. Why does every kid event have to involve the expectation that 30 grams of sugar will be ingested? I was clearly the only parent concerned about this and someone even said something like, "They just ran around, they're enjoying it, relax" but in a much nicer way.

I think my problem is as follows:
  • Natasha has no self-control where junk food is involved and I want her to gain some.
  • She doesn't get much exercise when she's not swimming so she can't eat tons of junk food.
  • She has my butt and thighs!
  • I don't want to set expectations that every outburst of energy is rewarded with Oreos, as if the children will perish of malnutrition if not immediately replenished with a sugar- binge.
  • I should have just put my foot down and let her meltdown in front of everyone. Well - maybe not. There is a time and place for everything.
And most importantly,
  • By the time she's a teenager I want her to have developed an innate sense of healthy eating. She should know intuitively what is appropriate in terms of content and portion.
This is a bit of a pipe dream, I know. But it is a fantasy goal of mine.

I remember being a skating rink once, and I saw a Korean-American family enjoying a snack of dried fruit. The kids were chewing happily on their fiber-rich snack. No one whined about wanting Pirate's Booty. I couldn't imaging being in that place. The kids are too exposed to junk food too often. This is where my beef is with the culture as a whole. We all knew a kid growing up who wasn't allowed to watch tv and then went on play dates and sat mesmerized in front of the television the whole time at other kids' houses, as if they were in a trance, completely unable to play or do anything else. My kids will certainly not be those kids. They eat plenty of junk food and watch plenty of tv. But I just wish the sugar/fat/white bread/pizza cabal weren't so dominant.

We'll see what happens next Saturday. Certainly lunch will be eaten first.

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