Monday, July 27, 2009

Does it Get Easier?

Does it get any easier?  

Waiting for our children after Religious Education, a mother of a three year old toddler who was recently diagnosed with Celiac, shared her frustrations.  Caleb was cranky on alternating days.  His disposition was cheery until 18 months, and then the “terrible two’s” hit.  The irrationality seemed to happen shortly after meals.  

Now Caleb was mellowing, but mom’s days were filled with reading labels, convincing Grandma that barley malt on the bottom of the cereal ingredients will cause irritation, and cooking double the meals.  

When does it get easier?  For each family it will be a different time frame.  And then, as I counseled with her, it is going to come and go.  Just when cooking the meals becomes a routine, you have your favorite recipes, you know where to search for your favorite gluten free foods . . . the grocery store drops a line of gluten free products, or your child decides to boycott all bread!  

The past two years have been our best years following the diet.  Nate has had the ability to ask questions about his food, so he has taken on the responsibility for speaking up, or at least pulling aside someone to check on ingredients.  He knows how to get his pix ready and who to give it to before mass.  Nate has also started becoming aware of being hungry and asking for food.  Between the ages of three and eight, Nate just did not sense he was hungry until he was starved.  These past few years have been very liberating for all of us.  

Right now, Nate is on the verge of becoming a teenager; he is counting the days until his thirteenth birthday.  I am sure, if asked, he even knows the exact number of days until that “twelve” turns and becomes “--teen.”  With this past year, his diet has changed, partly because his circle of socialization has broadened, and his friends are now “expanding” his view of “food.”  Also, whether he likes the food, or not, he is more aware of what others are eating and whether his food looks like his friends.  

Now, we have had several conversations about what are “real” friends, and who supports each other in a positive manner.  Our close knit friends seem to come from our church family, our extended family, and those from our “schools” albeit classes, homeschool groups, or club involvement.  Even with all of this knowledge, Nate is still aware of impressions made with new acquaintances.  He is sensitive to being the only kid bringing a sack lunch, having to turn down eating a handful of Oreo cookies as fast as he can,  or bringing his own pizza to an event.  

When will it get easier?  I believe that it continually becomes easier; soon, for Caleb, he will have more developed communication and be able to request his favorite foods or explain when he is feeling irritated inside.   For Nate, he may reach a point that he wishes to take the chance to taste all the party foods and then relearn how it causes his body to react.  Like everything else in the teen years, it will probably be an interesting roller coaster before it all evens out.

For myself, all too soon, I will be baking only one type of cookies, wishing for the days that I was mixing gluten-free flours and washing the mixing bowl between batches.  

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