My kids both play soccer, so our Saturdays are spent driving from pillar to post and cheering from the sidelines.
I'm a huge fan. I love cheering them on (Let's go 'Panthers!' Go Go Goal Rush!) and hanging out with the other parents. I also enjoy giggling about how sweet the kids were just a couple of years ago when they were too shy to steal the ball from each other. Good times. Not so much during torrential downpours, but soccer is a blast, otherwise.
Unless, of course, it's your turn to bring the half-time snack and you drop the ball.
Yes, it happened to me.
Last spring I realized my mistake just ten minutes before half-time at one of Holly's games, so my son Noah and I ran to the car (and folks, I generally don't run unless someone's on fire) and I drove as quickly as the law allows (more or less) to the nearest store. Trouble was, the nearest store was a few miles away. Like I often do when faced with lousy odds, I hummed the theme song to Mission-Impossible, determined to make a triumphant return to the game, snack in hand, and protect Holly from any embarrassment.
Things were not looking good. I worried she would hate me.
We ran into the store. The produce section loomed large, but the bananas were too green and I didn't have the means to wash or cut the other fruit. I sprinted around the store as Noah shouted suggestions.
"Snickers! Doritos! Cookies!" he yelled in vain, as I scowled and scanned the store for something at least semi-nutritious that would energize the girls for their second half.
With no time to waste, we returned to the produce section and settled on the individual packages of pre-washed apple slices with caramel dip. Trouble was, they were sold in six-packs. In order to purchase enough for the whole team - and not exclude the little siblings that would naturally want one too - I had to buy several packs. I forget the exact price but seem to recall paying $24.00 for the lot of them, a tad excessive for a half-time snack. Then I threw in juice boxes, hoping this unnecessary bonus would help everyone forget our oversight.
But it was too late. By the time we returned, half-time was nearly over and another mom - who just happened to have a handy bag of orange slices - was making the rounds, doing what I was supposed to be doing.
I was mortified. Breathless and perturbed, but grateful the girls had something, I collapsed in my chair and saved my uber-expensive snack for the girls to enjoy after the game.
I'm guess I'm a snack slacker. In fact, my kids are lucky if they have matching socks come game time.
I'm probably on some blacklist of 'un' soccer moms by now.
So this spring, when Holly's coach sent out an e-mail asking who wanted to bring the snack to the next game, I immediately replied.
"Me me me me!" I felt like shouting, desperate for redemption.
Someone else beat me to it, though.
He brought beautiful fruit and a drink. The girls all had their water bottles with them, but appreciated the extra juice.
But then he passed out more stuff after the game.
"Oh criminy." I thought, squinching my eyes shut. "He's setting the bar really high for the rest of us," I whispered to my husband. I can't recall what the post-game snacks were, exactly. I blocked it out. I think each player got a yummy pack of Oreos and something else. All I remember is the cheering.
That's when I knew I was sunk.
"Sorry guys, I can't compete," I said to my kids in the car on the way to Noah's game. "Don't get your hopes up," I added, as they enjoyed their post-game treats.
See, I was thinking I'd bring a few bunches of bananas for the half-time snack when my turn came around this year.
Better yet, raisins.
"Mom!" Holly shouted, when I suggested raisins.
"Okay, so I'll bring bananas too in case someone doesn't like the raisins," I tried, as I parked the car at Noah's game and we hauled the folding chairs out of the trunk for round two. Holly groaned and walked away. I'm pretty sure I heard her mutter "Hopeless."
Please don't misunderstand. If you know me you know that I'm not one of those parents who harbor moral objections to sugary snacks. I just had a different game plan.
I may need to rethink my strategy, but one thing I am sure of? This time I won't forget.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.