Excited to buy a tray lunch…what are the odds!
Can you imagine being so excited to just buy a “regular” school lunch? My little man has been asking a lot this year in school to buy a school lunch. I struggle with this for several reasons. The obvious…an allergic reaction, but also we know that most times (a polite way to say it), school lunches are not the healthiest. I am crazy busy just like the rest of the mommies, but I do attempt to make healthy organic packed lunches. The problem here is also obvious if you deal with food allergies and kiddos. You try so hard to assist your little ones in having a “normal” life. You want them to have the same opportunities and experiences as their peers, but food allergies tend to really create barriers to this goal. So, kind of, but not completely out of the dark my man asked this weekend if he can start “buying”. I asked if this was something that he really wanted to do and if so I would look at the menu and see what our options were. He was overwhelmed with excitement and told anyone that would listen, that he was going to start “buying”. However, when reviewing the menu, the menu’s first day consisted of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, roll, and fruit cup….all of which…besides the fruit cup, he was allergic to. I informed him that he could not buy on this day, but in two more days he could buy the taco lunch as long as I was able to read the ingredients. The school staff agreed that this could be done and there was a plan in place…well at least I thought so…my little man had another plan in place.
Around noon, my phone rang and it popped up that his school was calling me. Of course any time this happens my heart sinks…and I instantly think he is having an allergic reaction. His teacher was on the other line using a low, concerned voice…and she informed me that my little one went through the lunch line, got a tray lunch, and proceeded to eat a couple bites of the Salisbury steak. I said nothing at first. I was waiting to see what type of reaction he was having…hives, vomiting, red blotches, or even worse…was he struggling with his breathing. She paused then stated…”he seems fine”. I then proceeded with the “wait and watch” instructions and that should have been it, but no. I then proceeded to utilize this poor teachers time to give my…”oh, I feel so sorry for him”. I vented about how he just wants to be able to do what his peers do…even if it’s as simple as buying a tray lunch. Then I ended with, “well, I won’t cry to you anymore, I will just wait until we hang up and then cry like a baby”. Yes…this is what I said. With all these years, the many allergic reactions, the many conversations with child care providers, teachers, family, and friends…I still find myself breaking down like a little baby. But the truth is that we as parents dealing with food allergies continue to “feel sorry” for our little ones. We hate when they have to be left out, we hate that they cannot eat their classroom treats, we hate that they cannot eat the birthday, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, etc treat. That feeling as sadness for our little ones never goes away. And, as they get older and we slowly but surely lose control of their every move…it only gets worse. The only thing that helps me deal with this is the ongoing education and advocating for food allergies and my little ones.
So, next comes the momma bear intervention plan J with talking to the school, another long educational conversation with my little determined little man, we decided on a plan that we will both follow. I will now check the ingredients for every tray lunch. The ones that he can have will be identified each week. The ones that he cannot have, an allergy friendly version will be brought to the school for them to put on a tray for him to “buy”. In my instant freaking out momma bear mind I realize that this is creating more opportunities for him to have an allergic reaction and the obvious extra work, but if you could hear my little one telling his daddy right now about how he is “buying” and the smile glued to his face right now…this is priceless!