How do you tell, at three years of age, that what was the post-mass highlight was no longer in the diet? We were still trying to get across the "yucky-wheat" story and making connections to how his tummy felt sick and would soon feel better. Sitting in the community center amongst the gluten laden feast with no options was the equivalent to rubbing salt into a wound. For myself, personally, I loved the apple fritters, but I could do with out, and preferred to survive the morning minus the all-out temper-tantrum and hundred averted eyes that I predicted would occur if we could only look at pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle donuts.
About three years later, Nate suddenly asked about the pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle donuts, "What ever happened to them?". I had so successfully changed our family routine, Nate had forgotten the experience of the community room and donut feast. Our first couple weeks, we "remembered" an extra special treat that we had packed in the car. One week, having forgotten to get a special treat, we made a rare trip to the store on a Sunday. (I have a long standing tradition, since college days, of not shopping on Sundays in the hopes that my avoidance would allow others a day of rest.) There in the natural food section, we chose between dry cracker cookies and rice cakes with tamari flavoring. Not much of a "treat," but at least we were distracted.
Those early days were hard. My community of support was sitting on the long cafeteria benches often talking of the three "P's"; parenting, prayer, and pregnancies. I longed to join my friends and catch up on menu ideas, park trips, and how to live through the preschool years. My needs for community were as lean as my gluten-free dinner menu ideas.
Whether it was from sheer will or exhaustion, I had no tears to shed, yet I was quite sensitive to eating gluten items in front of Nate, or taking him to activities that were based around gluten food item. In those preschool years, I could not find any local sources for gluten-free donuts and just gave up the search. Fast forward to Nate's inquiry for the disappearing donuts, and I turned to the newly expanding internet to check out more national resources for donuts.
Typing a Google search, "gluten-free donuts," up popped Kinnikinnick. (www.kinnikinnick.com/) Double click on the website, and there appeared a Canadian gluten-free bread factory that featured six different varieties of donuts; maple frosted, chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze, plain, cinnamon sugar, an chocolate frosted. No pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle-donuts, but more gluten-free choices than I imagined possible.
But would these taste like sawdust? I ended up ordering one of each, plus bagels and pizza crusts. At this point, Nate was wanting to go to Coffee and Donuts because his Cub Scout buddies were all climbing on the chair racks and chasing each other around the hall. This sounded like the epitome of boyhood fun. The donuts arrived and we feasted. We opened all of them up, tasted each variety, declared them all good, and decided the cinnamon sugar were GREAT! Together we re-packaged the donuts into individual zip-lock baggies and froze them for the coming Sunday and succeeding weekends.
Flash-forward to Sunday, mass was complete, Nate came running up to ask if he could run with the other boys, AND could he take his donut to eat with his best friend Sebastian? It's one of those moments that I snapped with my magical memory camera . With all the hard heartache of what seemed to be constantly saying "no," this time I was able to offer a yes. Nate's beaming face, bright cheerful eyes, and appreciative grin are etched in my mind forever. Gone were the toddler-tantrums, he now understood about Celiac and being gluten-free.
Nate would have gladly gone to donuts and had nothing while playing tag around the benches, yet the socialization amongst our church friends was so much more enriched by a simple sugar donut.