Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Food Allergy Rant Du Jour

I'm in a bad mood, so I thought I'd blog about it.

L's class had a field trip today. They went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. A few days ago, his teacher asked me which of 3 entrees I wanted to order for him: a cheese crisp, a bean burrito, or a beef taco. First I said cheese crisp (because he loves cheese quesadillas) and then the bell went off, Wait he's allergic {to wheat and corn--so no tortillas or taco shells}! So we decided I would pack him a lunch.

I pack him a lunch for school everyday, but his classroom has a microwave. I felt that my task was to pack a lunch that didn't require heating, so he could eat it in the restaurant. I chose a sunbutter and jelly sandwich, raisins, string cheese, and I also packed some Pringles (technically they contain traces of wheat, but mostly it's a potato chip) so he could dip in salsa or guacamole with his classmates.

This morning, my husband mentioned to the teacher that Leo could have chicken, beans, cheese and guacamole at the restaurant. Maybe that's where it all unraveled, I don't know. But I picked L up at 2:30 and the teacher said the trip didn't go well (I thought she was going to say L had a tantrum because he couldn't eat anything, thankfully that's not what she meant). I guess she ordered him a plate of chicken and beans and he didn't eat it. (In the car, L told me he did eat some. His teacher probably doesn't know that he routinely eats Very Little.) And she told me the restaurant told her there was dairy in the guacamole so she didn't let him have it. This irked me the most because L isn't allergic to dairy and Hubby specifically said he could eat it. (Oddly enough, L loves guacamole.) But since then I realized I may have put "dairy" as one of his allergies at the start of the year--so they wouldn't try to hand him a glass of milk. But since then we've learned he can tolerate yogurt and cheese. So I'm partially to blame as well.

And of course his teachers should err on the side of caution.

But they didn't take L's packed lunch to the restaurant! I don't understand this at all. Even with what my husband said (such that she ordered him a plate of food), I had clearly sent a lunch box. They even took the bowl of Pringles out of the lunchbox and took that with them, but not the rest of the lunch. If he didn't like the chicken and the beans, he could've been eating his sunbutter sandwich! And they might have noticed the string cheese and thought, "Oh he can have guacamole!"

But none of this would have mattered if I'd been there. Of course I would've volunteered to go too (many parents did); I could've ordered him whatever looked good on the menu, including guacamole, and urged him to eat this and that, including his sandwich. But I didn't have childcare for T. My mom works on Tuesdays. So I couldn't go. And it pains me that having 2 kids means one or the other kid is always getting the shaft. I have a lot of trouble with this.

So it was a big botch of a day. Although when the teacher was telling me how awful it had gone, I asked if I shouldn't have let him go at all and she was like "No! We would've missed him. And he had fun." And it sounds like he did have fun. And he wasn't aware of the guacamole issue at all.

His teacher asked if there are any gluten-free tortillas and I said "oh yeah, he has them all the time at home, I just didn't think I could send it to the restaurant" (I was thinking about the re-heating factor) but she was nodding and was like "maybe next year" {except he'll be at a different school next year} so I feel like that is where I failed. Although, really, a cold quesadilla or using the restaurant's microwave? I don't know!

I said to her "live and learn" because that's all I can do--take this experience and learn from it. Heck, it's what I'm constantly doing as Allergy Mom, trying to figure out how to accommodate the world to L's issues. I think she thought I was crazy, like I should have it all figured out because I'm the mom. Uh oh, I hope she didn't think I was telling her to "live and learn"--oops! But I don't, I don't have it all figured out, not by a long shot. When I first heard about the field trip, my instinct was for him to skip it. That's how we used to deal with these things, especially because there was nothing he could eat back then. Now he's older and he has more safe foods, and he needs to, we need to, figure out how to let him fit in. Ugh.

Part of me wishes we'd just ordered him the cheese crisp and let him eat some wheat, like we do at pizza parties. But we see the allergist tomorrow. And I wanted to spare him any health repercussions. I don't know! That's pretty much the moral of the story--I don't know!!! There is no manual!!!

You would think it would get easier, now that he can eat more foods, but corn and wheat are major ingredients.

Also, we never eat out. Sometimes we bring food in, the obvious difference being we can serve L his own foods. Maybe if we had more experiences with restaurants I could've said, "here's a GF tortilla, have the waiter put some cheese on it and nuke it for 30 seconds." Plus, I'm such a people-pleaser. When I eat out, I hate to even ask for the slightest change, like no mayo on my burger, I'll just order it regular and then scrape off the mayo myself. Okay, I'm veering off here....

Live and learn. That's all I can do. And hope that next time we do it better.

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