Dear Kid on My Son’s Soccer Team


Dear Kid (number 9 I think) on my son’s soccer team,

This apology has been gnawing at me for almost 20 years.  You see it was me, I was the one who slipped a lemon into your half time snack of orange slices.  When your innocent face turned into a sour grimace I immediately knew that I could be in big trouble – that my son’s participation on the team would be in jeopardy if you had publicly demanded accountability and an apology from a sadistic snack mom.  So thank you for peacefully swapping out the lemon for an orange.

Believe me, it wasn’t personal. I remember you as a friendly kid with tousled hair and an easy smile – not a superstar, just a steady and reliable presence on the field. And I could say the same for your parents, they weren’t screamers on the sidelines, but quietly supportive, both for you and the entire team.  If I really wanted to target the lemon, I would have earmarked the resentful coach who once referred to his responsibilities as baby-sitting, but who also offered private coaching lessons with the implicit promise of increased playing time as a coach’s prerogative.

No, I didn’t think of any of those subtleties as I cut up the fruit before the game. This was nothing more than a misguided rebellion against my designated role as snack mom.  As a new mother, I was unprepared for the responsibility.  When I grew up in the 1960s there was no such thing as a snack mom.  If you wanted a snack, well you just brought your own damn snack.  My first assignment came when you were all in preschool, and in my naiveté I vowed that I was going to be the best snack mom ever, offering only homemade and nutritious treats.  I scorned those lazy moms resorting to sugary Teddy Grahams and juice boxes laden with corn syrup.  My promise lasted less than one year; I quickly devolved into the archetypal frantic snack mom, rushing to the grocery store at the last minute to scoop up the convenient snacks that I had smugly demonized.

When you graduated from elementary school, I thought my snack-mom days were mercifully over, but no, in came the schedule for soccer games.  Instead of simply delivering the snack to the school, I now had to load up a cooler, drive many miles to a remote game, and lug the cooler across a vast soccer complex, struggling to find field 8A, or was it 14C?  I learned to bring binoculars to spot your blue jerseys, but it seemed that every other team was wearing blue.  With the cooler bumping awkwardly behind me, I wended my way through a sea of identical 12-year-old soccer players and their families.  From 10,000 feet the scene must have looked like the exercise yard of a giant puppy mill.  Soccer snack mom was a dehumanizing experience.

I promise you, my lemon was a pure impulse.  It was just sitting there on the counter right next to the oranges, left over from the previous night’s fish.  I casually swept it into the mix and concealed it among the orange slices.  I will admit to a momentary flush of vindictive pleasure, but truthfully I forgot about the lemon until I saw your reaction, and any pleasure immediately turned to remorse.  I can’t say that I was ashamed at what I did; I was striking a subversive blow for all the discontented snack moms sprinkled across the sprawling soccer fields.  The cause was just, the execution poor, and I’m sorry it was you who got caught up in my defiance.

I also want to reassure you that my rebellion was committed by me and me alone; there was no collusion between any other parents, your teammates or opponents.  And most importantly this was an isolated act.  I was not standing at the precipice of a slippery slope, transitioning from a harmless prank to something evil, like slipping a dab of dog food into homemade cookies, or those truly dreadful things you hear about on Halloween.  Your grimace was enough to teach me my lesson.  Besides, from that point forward, my husband insisted that he take over the duties of snack mom.

I have one last favor to ask.  Even though it has been two decades and I have moved to a distant suburb, I would appreciate it if we could keep this little incident just between the two of us.

With belated but sincere apology,

Liza Blue

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