When Soccer Snacks Get Personal

by Sally on October 23, 2013

Donut2 I’ve long known there are parents in my community who aren’t on board with my soccer snack mission. That’s okay. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from coaches and parents. And I know that in order to make change happen–to shift the culture and the thinking surrounding soccer snacks–there will be people who don’t agree, and there will be bumps in the road.

Recently, I felt a bump.

In a moment of exasperation after soccer, I posted a Facebook status update about some of the snacks I saw on the field. I was crabby, so the tone was snarkier than usual. And it offended a mom from my neighborhood who was at the field that day. She was angry and left a comment. I responded, and others chimed in. It could’ve ended there with some hard feelings.

Instead, this mom and I continued the conversation through private message, then she suggested we meet for coffee. So one morning after school drop-offs, we sat and talked about a lot of things. Of course, we talked about soccer snacks. I explained why the issue matters so much to me. She shared her views and reminded me that being positive is much more effective at changing people’s minds than being negative.

We also talked about the challenges we both feel in feeding our families, about second-guessing purchases at the grocery store, about times when getting through the day takes priority over whether the punch at the school party has too much sugar in it, and about our kids’ respective quirky eating habits.

I walked away feeling good, in a way that no Facebook exchange could ever make me feel. Online, it’s so easy to see things as black and white, to divide issues into “us” and “them”, to be offended by ALL CAPS or misread someone’s tone. But face to face, it’s easy to empathize with another mom and understand her perspective, even if you don’t see eye to eye on every detail.

I don’t want soccer snacks, like so many issues before it, to devolve into a battle of the so-called Mommy Wars, with Team Cupcake on one side and Team Orange Slice on the other. Because that ignores the nuances of people’s attitudes about parenting. All parents want their kids to eat healthy food, most parents are cool with occasional treats. So how do we meet somewhere in the middle? The best answer may be to simply eliminate soccer snacks altogether (read: “The End of Soccer Snacks?“).

But I’m guessing if we could all meet for coffee, we’d eventually figure it out.

Photo by Jesse Moore via Flickr Creative Commons.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat @ Eating The Week October 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

Well said, and I think you’ve got a great point re: not needing soccer snacks at all. The under-8 town league my son plays in doesn’t have any organized snack system, and a) no one seems to miss them & b) there’s no fodder for another battle in the mommy wars.

Sometimes we let Miles get a slush after practice; other times we don’t. But it doesn’t require emotionally charged negotiation with other families, whichever way we choose.

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Sally October 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

Kat–I really like this: “it doesn’t require emotionally charged negotiation with other families, whichever way we choose”. That’s an excellent point and reason enough to nix snacks altogether. I hear that sports snacks are not a “thing” as kids get older, and I’m certainly looking forward to that!

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Christine K. October 23, 2013 at 9:52 am

We do not have soccar snacks. We bring bottles of water to the field, and at break they drink water/use the bathroom. I have only ever seen one parent feed their kid a snack, and I am going to be blunt here-the child and the parent were both grossly obese.
Goodness-they aren’t toddlers. They can go a couple of hours without being fed, or munch on an apple on the car ride over if after-school soccar practice is the norm.

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Sally October 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thanks for your comment Christine. I agree with you that kids don’t need a snack after soccer, though some parents and coaches like the idea of the team sharing in a snack after the game. And I’m happy to hear your team forgoes snacks and just does water. As for the child you saw, it’s so hard to know what was going on–could be that the child hadn’t eaten breakfast, or maybe the child even had diabetes and needed food to keep blood sugar up. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in a family. But I do like the idea of each family making their own decision when it comes to snacks. That family felt their child needed a snack so they brought one. Other people just brought water. I think that’s probably the best solution–letting everyone decide.

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bernadette Hanson October 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

I would LOVE to get rid of sports team snacks. Usually it is right before or after a mealtime anyway. As team mom this year I did try to broach the snack subject right from the get go, giving options on different ways we could go with the snack, from nothing to the usual. From the few I heard from, it seems to me that parents really wouldn’t mind giving up the snack but for the old “the kids really like it”. I have decided though that for the last 2 or 3 games where only some parents would have to do a 2nd team snack, that each will just take care of our own. I think they’ll survive.

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Sally October 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Bernadette–I agree that parents are usually more than happy to forgo snacks and delete something from their to-do lists. Saves everyone time and money. Yes, the kids usually do enjoy the snacks. But I’ve found that when we don’t have snacks, the kids spend about two seconds saying “are there snacks?” and then they’re off talking about something else. As you say, they will survive! :)

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Gayle October 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

Snacks or no, I think the bigger and best point is that two people with initially opposing views sat down and had a civil conversation filled with mutual respect and ending with appreciation for the other’s views. It was not allowed to devolve into hateful discourse and anger on everyone’s part. The only way change will occur is if we have these conversations face to face and act civilly, not through hateful Facebook behavior.

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Sally October 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Gayle–nicely put! Social media is great for a lot of things, and unfortunately, rude and disrespectful exchanges are one of those things.

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Katie October 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Love this Sally. Convenient though our 21st century modes of communication may be, there is no substitute for locking eyeballs with someone. Text messages and Tweets don’t inspire empathy in quite the same way.

On a side note, we don’t have soccer snacks any more. The kids grumbled a little at first, but now nobody seems to notice or care.

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Sally October 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Katie–so true. And great news about the soccer snacks. Funny how quickly kids adapt!

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David October 24, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Hmm…seems like social media actually helped in this particular instance. Perhaps the two parents might not have had the discussion if not for Facebook posts and exchanges? Sometimes it can be hard for folks to raise disagreements initially face-to-face. Great to hear that the two of you were able to resolve or at least address the initial disagreement.

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elle @ being stepmom October 26, 2013 at 1:05 am

This can be such a touchy subject for people. I admire how you and the other mom handled it. It seems like most people today would just vent on social media and never speak again. Kudos to you!

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