Do any of the guys out there remember the Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby from Cub Scouts? Or are you currently “helping” your son with his Pine Wood Derby car? I used our first year of car crafting as an excuse to buy the new Dremel Power Tool; I had an old one with a cord, but if I expect a seven year old to be able to use it, I can’t expect him to navigate the cumbersome cord as well, right? See honey?…it’s for the kids, honest!
At any rate, our Cub Scout pack had their annual Pine Wood Derby race this last Sunday. Since Heidi was pre-occupied trying to make gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free pizza, cupcakes and ice cream for Luke to take to a birthday party on the same day, the Derby was a true father-son experience. Sam donned his “class A’ uniform and off we went. At 11:00 a.m. You know, right around lunch time?
The email reminder I got for this event simply named a time and place, no other details provided. No other details necessary, really. For 99% of the world, time and place is all that is necessary. We were going to go, win the race (who am I kidding, I was just praying for the wheels not to fall off the thing), and then go to our favorite gluten-free pizza joint one last time before we give up dairy. So I’m thinking if the race starts at 11:00 then it must not take too long because everyone will want to head out for lunch, right?
Testing and car weigh-in are what starts at 11:00. The race didn’t start until 1:00. And of course in the meantime, pizza was served! Way to go, Dad.
Sam was very composed and when I offered to run out to the grocery store to get us some food, he said no big deal and that he would just have a few orange wedges and we would still go for our pizza afterward. Since the Cub Scout group is associated with his school, most of his friends knew that Sam wouldn’t eat the pizza and it was really just no big deal. Then, from a distance I could see one of the kids stick his pizza in Sam’s face not once but twice. Oh man, talk about Dad’s heart sinking! Sam of course did great. I was starting to steam at the parents of this obviously insensitive child when I saw the kid do it to someone else who WAS able to eat the pizza. Okay, so the kid is not insensitive, he just has zero manners. Anyway, the kids eat fast as it is and within five minutes were back up playing games. Sam was great and appeared to have no emotional trauma. We did talk about it afterward and he did say it bothered him a little bit, which is understandable.
The person I was really frustrated with was me. I should have asked the next question, as in “Hey you know that’s right around the lunch hour…do I need to bring food for me and Sam?” It turns out that a lot of people didn’t even show up until 12-12:15 anyway because they were either at church or (get this) didn’t want pizza for lunch. How easy it would have been for us to go for our own pizza at 11:15, show up at the Derby at noon for weigh in and final tweaking, and off we go. I could have averted the whole “pizza in the face” episode if I had simply been more thoughtful.
What this experience helped me realize is that as my boys get older and begin to naturally do more of these things with their dear old Dad, that I need to get into the gluten-free/allergen-free mindset well before the actual event. I am laser beam focused at the time, but I need to get into the habit of asking the organizer of EVERY extra-curricular event if there will be food/snacks involved and if so, how elaborate will it be. For instance, we were sweating bullets about an upcoming banquet for Sam that we knew would include a meal. How awkward would that be? Do-able for sure (we’ve managed it many times), but we weren’t looking forward to another full-blown “meal replacement in public” fiasco. And then I asked the next question and found out that the banquet is traditionally a potluck. Total score…everyone is supposed to bring their own food!
You know, before finding myself walking in this set of shoes, I never realized just how food-centric our culture is. And it seems like there is not only more “food,” but more, well, crap disguised as food. Is it any wonder why our kids are, on average, are the heaviest and unhealthiest in American history?
What will it take to get parents to wake up and realize what they are doing? I know for us, it took a potentially life-threatening condition called celiac and our “bonus” food allergies to wake us up. You always think it will never happen to you…until it does, then you find yourself regretting having ever given your child that “food” to begin with.
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