Monday, June 15, 2015

Trying New Things Tuesday: Gluten-Free VBS

I always assume when I'm under stress I cry.  When Sammy was sick as a baby, I kept apologizing for crying all the time, only to have people tell me I wasn't crying.  When Wren was first diagnosed with Celiac, I thought I cried for a year, but no one remembers that.  Maybe I cry internally?

Anyway, I do know the first time I for sure cried about Wren's Celiac diagnosis.  We were standing in the church lobby and I grabbed a flyer to see what we could donate for snacks for Vacation Bible School.  Wren was only two, so it's not like she would be going yet, but as I scanned the list I felt a sick feeling rise in my stomach.  Not one thing on the list was gluten-free.  Not one thing on the list would even be easy to eat while controlling cross-contamination.  I sat in the lobby of our church surrounded by Dennis and our kids and I wept.  It hit me for the first time, the reality:

This is about so much more than just food.

I imagined Wren never participating in any social functions; I imagined becoming a helicopter parent, not something I ever aspired to be; I imagined the ostracism, the feeling of being left out that would plague Wren forever as kids around her ate ice cream sandwiches and Goldfish Crackers while I built five foot barriers between her and any child holding a snack with wheat. When that flood gate opened, everything came out in a big way.

I wish I could go sit next to that scared mom me now.  I'd wrap my arms around her shoulders, give her a hug, and then tell her to snap the hell out of it!  Ain't nobody got time for this!

I'd also tell her the following:

Wren will go to Vacation Bible School in 2015, six years-old and totally able to handle her business;

the church will have gluten-free snacks, though she won't eat those just to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination while handling.  Still, they're there!

To guess, about 30-40% of the kids she will attend VBS with will also have food allergies.  Some will have Celiac, some will come with their own epi-pens.  Sister, this kid will find her tribe!

Wren will be so surrounded by love that those who know her will go out of their way to shield her from whatever left-out feelings they can.  If there's a Play-doh table in class, there will be two other tables of choice for her to play at.  She won't just get dumped somewhere no one else wants to go.  If she needs to wash her hands before she eats, someone will make sure it happens.  This has been proven in Sunday School, AWANAs.  VBS won't be any different.  It just keeps getting better.

It's handled.  It's fine.

Breathe, mama.

With that in mind, my new thing this week is going to be to try to help those people out there who are where I was four years ago:  tired, scared, and with almost everything in your path looking like some variation of the worst case scenario.  I'm going to go through a step-by-step, snack-by-snack, detailed layout of what Gluten-Free VBS prep looked like in our house, as well as try to give updates on how things are going throughout the week.

Where we are now, it's a good place to be.  Not without complications, but oh so good!  God can take you places you never imagine going so fast.  Hang on for the ride.
VBS, here comes the crazy!

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