When I was kid, oh how I hated September. It meant my summer at Long Beach Island was coming to a close. It meant shorter days. It meant cooler nights. And it meant…EGADS…back to school!!
I wish I could say I had pleasant memories of my school years. But between you and I, I pretty much detested it; from grade school, where I got bullied, all the way through college, where I never found my footing.
I know it’s important. I just wished I enjoyed it more.
Into my adult years, the end of the summer didn’t seem so bad. Sure, the weather was turning. But football season was kicking off. The Dudettes would be back to some kind of routine, and as someone who works in a home office, I’d get my space back a bit. And now, well, we have The Walking Dead beginning in 5 weeks. Who’s to complain?
But I didn’t deal with celiac as a child. And I don’t have a child with celiac. And I know back to school can mean something totally different for people in those shoes. I could give my thoughts on it, but instead I’d like to share a letter a mom privately shared with me (and gave me permission to share with you). That adorable little girl in the school bus above is a fellow celiac and here are her mom’s words as she sends her off to school.
Mom…take it away.
It’s that time of the year when we wake up in the middle of the night thinking: will our daughter’s 3rd grade teacher understand the meaning of CD? Will she/he be supportive and understanding? Will she/he talk about allergies and diseases with her/his class? Will she/he notice when and if our daughter gets glutened? Will she/he even consider extra TLC for our precious girl if this happens? Is the school cafeteria going to be a gluten nest with all the possible scenarios for cross contamination? Will our daughter’s friends and classmates be thoughtful on what they eat and how the eat it around her? Will her classmates’ parents be thoughtful, careful and understanding when sending snacks to the classrooms?
The only right answer is and always will be: MAYBE.
I am not going to lie. Our daughter has attended the same public school for the past 3 years and the teachers have all been very supportive and understanding. Our daughter has been exposed to gluten in many ways and forms on a daily basis, reason why feeling that fear in the bottom of our hearts will never disappear. But one thing for sure has changed. Our daughter’s sense of responsibility and understanding of her CD.
She, by the way, at only 8 years of age has asked me to PLEASE not use the word DISEASE when we try to explain to the rest of the world what she cannot eat, since she doesn’t see it as a disease. And she’s 100% right. She can get sick if she ingests gluten. She can get sick if she’s not careful with CC. She can get sick if she doesn’t ALWAYS read labels and ingredients’ lists. She can get sick if she doesn’t wash her hands before and after eating anywhere.
Other than that, as hard as sometimes can be in a world packed with products with gluten, she’s a happy, healthy, sweet and smart girl, living her life at the fullest, avoiding the big G in her life. Gluten.
She has learned to live with the always hard:
– “sorry, you can’t have that because it has gluten in it”
– “sorry, you can’t eat that because we are not sure of the ingredients”
– “sorry you can’t eat that because it may have been exposed to cc” scenarios
And, yes, it will always be hard. It is actually TOUGH.
But she has taught me a valuable lesson: as a mom I will always live with fear of seeing my precious daughter get sick, but she has taught me also to live with HOPE. 10 years ago there were very little certified GF items. We still have a long way to go with the food industry but we have come a long way too. 10 years ago Celiac Disease and Gluten were almost never mentioned. Almost like they were non-existent. Now, the word is out, people are being diagnosed on a daily basis and we THE CELIAC COMMUNITY are all responsible for sticking together and raising awareness.
So let’s learn from our little celiac warriors and wish them luck this school year!
To our precious girl, we love you to the moon and back. We are and will always be here for you. We will walk this journey with you. Keep going STRONG and confident. Go ROCK that 3d grade and go kick that big G in the butt!