Dear Sports Parents – about those cupcakes
The end-of-the-season cupcake cake was beautiful, and it looked delicious. I'm sure 90 percent of the team appreciated your efforts to make the last game special.
We are the 10 percent.
The one player who stood to the side and whispered in a wistful little moan, "I can't eat it, Mommy, can I?" Big Guy, whose many food allergies include egg, said it several times. The rapid transition from rough, tough, take no prisoners athlete to a little boy ready to cry over cake was stunning.
Though he's lived in a world of "can't have this" since he was 10 months old, not having cupcakes really bothers him. Especially since he knows I've always been so careful to have his back on this issue. Every birthday party we go to, every post-season celebration, I either bake the cake or take cupcakes for him.
He can deal with school birthday parties - his teachers have always kept a stash of safe cookies. He could have handled a regular sport snacks he couldn't have. I've even stopped carrying backups because it just doesn't bother him any more, as long as there's "Gator Egg" - oh, the irony of his mispronunciation of that one.
But the cupcake cake was special - and he knew he was probably going to be excluded.
"I don't know," I told Big Guy. "Let me check and see if you can eat them."
It was more hope than I usually give him, because this time I thought there was a chance. Another parent had talked to me about end-of-the-season cupcakes. She'd heard about the diet soda trick and asked if it really worked. Would it be OK for her to bring those cupcakes to the last game, she asked. I said yes, but told her how to prevent peanut and tree nut cross-contamination.
Somewhere along the line, a different parent wound up bringing a cupcake cake - a colorful, icing-thick confection with basketball players on top. I knew when I saw the bakery sticker this was a no-go for Big Guy.
"I'm sorry, babes. The plan changed, and I didn't know it." I hope everyone standing there saw his stricken face when I said that. I hope they remember it the next time they're thinking of special snacks.
I was so very proud of him at that moment. He didn't throw a fit. He didn't jump up and down, demanding what he couldn't have. He was just quietly - and heartbreakingly - sad.
Yes, the parents brought an alternate snack for Big Guy, which he accepted with a polite "thank you." I wonder how many kids would be thrilled with Corn Nuts when the rest of the team's celebrating with cupcakes. Big Guy wasn't. I bet her child wouldn't have been either.
I would never dream of asking parents to provide egg-free cake - it's just too dang expensive if you're not a baker. If you are a baker, it's still tricky to pull off.
But it would be nice if other parents could do the allergic child a favor and coordinate with his or her parents. By the end of the season, I bet you know who they are and if you don't, it's not too hard to ask around. I bet the parents would be more than happy to take responsibility for making sure their food-allergic child was accounted for.
This is not the first time this has happened. We were on a team last year where one mom was an aspiring pastry chef and kept bringing her practice cupcakes to the field. I bet 90 percent of the players appreciated it.
We are the 10 percent.
By the time we got to the car last night, Big Guy had recovered. He'd found fruit rolls in the bag, and he was happy that he at least got candy out of it. I'm still not happy. I don't like it when my boy's sad over something that's completely avoidable.
I'm also changing my sports SOP in the future as a result. In the past, I've always relied on notes from coaches and reminders on snack sheets that there's an allergic kid. Obviously, that method doesn't communicate everything I need to say.
From now on, I'm going to talk to all the parents at the first practice and ask them to tell me if they plan something "special." Maybe a speech before game one will prevent problems come game 12.
Copyright 2012 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.