After months and months of missing the boat when it came to signing up my 3-year-old son for various activities, I finally nailed it: he’s signed up for soccer this fall. I’m not sure which of us is more excited: him for getting to play a game and having permission to kick things, or me to be a bystander on the sidelines watching tiny human beings chase a ball around a field not really knowing what to do.
But the season hasn’t even started yet and it already has me feeling a bit perplexed. Along with the standard sign up information requested, like age, health conditions, and insurance information, there was a slot to fill in which practice date you were going to be the parent responsible for bringing the team snack.
Wait, what? These are 3-year-olds “practicing” for an hour once a week. What do they need a snack for? It’s not a rigorous intense game that requires electrolytes, rehydration, and refueling like our games in high school. It’s kids playing — literally just playing around — for an hour. Kids can go an hour without eating, right? At the very least, parents can bring their own snack if their child needs it.
Of course I dread group snacks in particular since my son has food allergies, but that point aside, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept. Why are we teaching kids to associate sports and physical activity with food? Food is a battle parents fight at home enough, without the added component of adding it to extracurricular activities.
I question the need or ability for kids to go that single hour without including a snack break, but then I think about my son and our daily routines, when he’s constantly haggling me for yet another snack.
It starts the minute he wakes up. “Can we have pancakes, mommy?”
By the time we’ve made it downstairs, he’s added another request. “I want something else with my pancakes, too.”
Mere minutes after we finished breakfast, the requests start rolling in again. “I want something to eat, mommy. Can I have a snack? I’m hungry. Can I get something out of the pantry?”
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Of course I don’t give in to every request, especially if I know he’s just eaten plenty, but it’s still a struggle point for us. I try hard to make sure snacking isn’t wrapped up into other activities as part of our routine (like snacking in the car or stroller or in the grocery cart at the store) to help him differentiate between eating just to eat and eating because he’s hungry. Adding it to an activity where it’s not needed, like soccer or even a play date, makes that even harder.
Perhaps wrapping up food into every activity we come across is a contributing factor to why my son’s requests are so frequent. He’s gotten used to having snacks with all things without my noticing: preschool holidays, birthday parties, play dates, and now apparently, sports.
Maybe I’m being a spoil-sport here, but I can’t imagine that wrapping up a snack into every and any activity is teaching our kids the right foundation for healthy eating or healthy habits, especially during a time when childhood obesity is such an epidemic.
We should be teaching our kids about nutrition and exercise and encouraging fun and healthy ways to incorporate such things into our lives, not adding any kind of associations that don’t send a clear message.More On