Monday, April 27, 2009

Nice Girls Do Ask for Snacks

Baseball practice started this week. Of course, it was cold, windy, and still damp from rain. Hardly baseball weather, if you ask me. But sports wait for no fair-weather moms, so there I was at the local ball field, shivering and hunched against the cold, while my son flexed his catcher’s mitt and chased after wildly thrown balls.

As part of the new season, the coach handed out a schedule, which included practice times, game times, and … treats.

I hate treats.

It’s hard to ask other parents to consider food allergies when they’re providing the treats. It’s still a little embarrassing, even after all these years, to have to speak up and ask that they limit their treat options. All our lives, we’ve been taught to be gracious about food that other people offer. “It’s not polite to ask for food, wait until they offer,” we were told. “Take whatever is offered, don’t turn up your nose at something they’re generous enough to provide,” we were scolded. So trying to tell someone else what they can and can’t bring for game treats goes against all our “good girl” training.

But as the mom of an allergic kid, I have to ignore the “nice girls don’t make a fuss” rule and make a fuss. (Although I try to make it a very nice fuss, of course.)

So as usual, as parents and kids huddled around the coach, when he mentioned treats, I spoke up. “Coach, I know we have at least a couple of kids on the team who have food allergies. If you’d like, I could send out an email to everyone with some suggestions for treats that would let those boys feel included.”

I braced myself for possible cold shoulders, puzzled looks, or exasperated sighs. But that’s not what I got. I got complete support – “Oh, what are they allergic to?” “What are some specific things they can have?” “Is there something you’d suggest?”

The parents were awesome. They pulled out pens and jotted notes on their schedules. They smiled and said, “Sure.” They weren’t exasperated at all. And they made jokes like, “Shoot, I was going to bring sushi for treats!” and we all laughed, instantly bonding.

We’ve come a long way in just a few years. When my son and his friend first started playing organized sports, people were still unfamiliar with food allergies, and it was harder to ask other parents to include our boys in their snack choices. But over the last five years, awareness has grown so much that we’re surprised each time we ask and we’re greeted with a positive reaction of support.

So despite the 40-degree weather, bone-chilling wind, and snowy rain, I think I’m ready for the season to start after all.

Play ball!

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