My first blog takes me back 5 years ago when my youngest daughter started her freshman year of high school. She had been diagnosed Celiac for 5 years at this point, by now I was sure my daughter had come to terms with her restrictive diet. She was happy-go-lucky Madeline, ever smiling, always positive, living every day with joy. Little did I suspect that the social acceptance of being a young gluten-free teen was secretly troubling her and it was about to burst forth in a profusion of tears and sudden flight from her classroom. All because of just one cookie!
Two class periods later, the oldest sister, Claire, enters the choir room. Claire is a gifted singer, little miss detail and unofficial teacher helper…she is also a Celiac. The choir director is concerned about Madeline's meltdown and speaks to Claire asking if her little sister is always so emotional over things as insignificant as "Just One Cookie". Claire's response is spot on. "Sir, you don't understand, its not just one cookie…its one cookie yesterday, one cookie today, one cookie tomorrow, and the day after that and after that and after that…it will never be just one cookie for her!"
Four years later at Madeline's graduation party, one of her fellow graduates (also a Celiac) came up and hugged me and said. "Mrs. Wilson I have been looking forward to Madeline's party all week because I knew you would have Gluten-Free cake. This is the only piece of graduation cake I will get to have." Wow! She, too, was longing to fully participate, to have the same experience as everyone else. All I could do was hug her, congratulate her on her graduation, and ask if she would like me to wrap up an extra piece for a rainy day.
Over the years I had gone to great lengths to ensure my girls were fully included in sleepovers, cookouts, and pizza parties because sharing food and drink is the most common form of social ritual, an intrinsic part of feeling included. I found that when it comes to a gluten-free lifestyle, its never been about "Just One Cookie".