My son had a banana DQ blizzard two days ago.
Last night we ordered pizza.
My husband just made ice cream floats.
No, my children did not win some sort of bet with the prize being junk food every day. I didn’t read some strange article about giving your children “treat foods” daily and often to make them tired of them and beg for apple slices. And no, my son has not hijacked this celebration post.
But in my house we sure are celebrating. My almost thirteen year old son has never had a DQ blizzard. He has never had an ice cream float. In fact, he has never had ice cream. We have ordered take out pizza in the last year or so but always one with cheese, one without.
We have been a house of food allergies. At 4 months old, we figured out that my son had allergies to soy, nuts, eggs and dairy. I was nursing twins (my daughter is allergy free) and his reactions were so strong that he was impacted by what I was consuming. Nursing twins burns 1 000 calories a day, When I cut all offending foods from my diet, his skin cleared up (eczema) and he gained weight. For every pound he gained, I lost two. But he was healthy, and we relearned eating and cooking with food restrictions.
This is not complaining because I will take food allergies over other health ailments/conditions. Being careful with food meant a happy, healthy child.
But some things were challenging. Sometimes, even when we were careful, a combination of food meant all night vomiting. I would bring this little guy into our bed with multiple tupperware bowels and receiving blankets and he would throw up every 8 to 9 minutes for up to 3 hours. Never once would he cry or complain and somehow he even drifted into sleep in between. This rarely happens anymore but I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes sure I hear a strange cough that might mean a night of retching.
When we first went trick or treating, I would bake lemon cookies or carrot bars (using all safe ingredients) wrap them in little bags and “plant them” with willing neighbours up and down the streets near our house. When my son arrived at the door, they would drop his treats in his bag and he would be thrilled. When he got older, we let him collect everything and then would “trade him” safe candy for all the things he can’t have in his bag.
I baked “safe” cupcakes and kept tins of them in my freezer and in the freezer at his primary school. If a classmate brought in cake for a birthday or we attended a birthday party, he could also have a treat. There were 2 other boys in his K class with food allergies. If the class was cooking, I made “equivalent” food for these boys. Apple pie for the class? My boys got apple crumble with oat and brown sugar topping. Often, they got larger portions and felt happily special not strangely special.
We have had allergy testing over the years and there never seemed to be a change. When he was five, we tried goat cheese and he tolerated it. This changed things in huge ways – we bought goat yogurt and he had it with cereal. We could make pizza and use goat cheese. Goat feta meant greek salad. Hurrah!
My son is going to Grade 8 this fall. Time to update the allergy testing again. While he is so careful and responsible, I worry about the teenage brain and risk taking. He has been talking recently of feeling “different” and “left out” of certain experiences. Of course. What is “normal” in our house, is not “normal” in his expanding world.
So an afternoon of skin testing at the pediatrician’s office was on our agenda.
The results? My child is now only allergic to tree nuts and almonds. Wow. Wow. Whoa. I cried. I hugged him a million times. Life has changed.
We are still being cautious. Right now we are just exposing him to dairy. All good so far. Next is egg very slowly. I am not sure if I am ready ever to try peanuts. We will see.
This is of course my son’s story. But it is our family’s story. It is a story that means the world is opening up.
So yes, there will be more never before tried treats in his future. Everyday, we think of something new. “Now we can have . . .” “We don’t need to worry about . . . anymore.”
After almost thirteen years, my son has established tastes. “Mom, will you still buy me goat yogurt if I like it better?” “Of course.” “I think I still like sorbet better than ice cream. It’s too creamy.” “Agreed! Me too.”
Food is food. But food is so wrapped up in our traditions, our celebrations and our day to day routines. When you always have to do it a little differently, it’s hard.
We always have seen the positive things about these allergies. You have to find the silver lining. We read every label every time and avoid a lot of terrible stuff because we are so food aware. Allergies mean less packaged, more homemade. More fresh. More healthy. We learned to bake our own bread, make amazing fruit desserts (crumbles, loaves, cobblers, etc.) and sure saved a lot of money on not having take out or eating out.
In the end, it’s not so much about eating all of these things. It’s more about being able to. Which is more than we ever thought possible. More than my son ever thought possible.
So this week we celebrated all of this possibility. Out came the fancy glasses and we toasted with champagne and Orangina. “To the world opening up!”
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.