Ella is allergic to wheat. As much as she hates it, as much as we want her not to be... she is allergic to wheat. This is an odd allergy for her. She doesn't see a reaction right away. If she eats something that has wheat in it, it often will take hours and sometimes days for her body to respond. She starts itching. At first it might be a patch of "dry skin" in her face. Followed by small bumps. Then she starts to get a tiny rash on her legs, which spreads over time. Before we know it, she is scratching everywhere.
Even after a dose or two of her allergy meds, the rashes will remain. There is only one way to make the itching stop and that is to eliminate wheat (and several other allergens) from her diet.
She is five. The only thing that matters to her is that she gets to eat things that her friends and family get to eat. And unfortunately, we are a part of a food culture where most foods are wheat based. Pizza, pasta, crackers, cake, bread, bagels, and on and on.
Over the past couple of years her wheat allergy has diminished. Mostly because we have been so strict with what she is allowed to eat. Oddly enough, this has given us a false sense of security. She's no longer a 4, she's a 1!!! On occasion, we let our guard down and let her have a little. Maybe in the form of a chicken nugget. Maybe a goldfish cracker or two. Maybe even a tiny nibble of pizza. This is a bit of a balancing act for us. We are weighing a lot of factors; her need to fit in, our desire to make her happy, our need to keep her healthy. I will admit, sometimes it is easier for us. Maybe if she eats a little birthday cake, we won't have to make a wheat-free version to take along with us. And then we give her a little extra allergy medication at night.
This might all seem a bit distorted or confusing. What are these people doing? Honestly, it all comes from a loving place. And we are always second guessing ourselves. But how much is enough? Where do we draw the line? Ella cannot possibly understand our seemingly arbitrary and changing rules. Without question she will grow up to have major control issues. And most likely, hate us.
As we have relaxed a bit on how much wheat she is allowed to have, her skin has started to get itchy again. How much are we giving her? Generally, she is allowed to have a 1/2 a piece of challah with her classmates on Fridays. And maybe a Ritz cracker on a saturday. Or we let her try something we are eating, like a bite of pasta. But not every day.
We just found out that she has been asking her her friends if they can share their snacks with her at recess. This is not a good thing, from our perspective. But for Ella it means that she can finally enjoy what they all take for granted, just a little. We have asked her to stop this and hopefully she will. (When the kids share food, wheat is the least of my concerns.)
When she starts itching, I take notice. To me, it just isn't worth making her uncomfortable. Ella definitely would not agree. "So what, Mom! It's a croissant! C'mon! A CROISSANT!"
I just hope that we are able to move past all of this one day. As I have said before, wheat allergies are so very challenging. And as much as I love finding fun ways to cook brown rice pasta, it just wears me out. And worse than all of that is the fact that my beautiful daughter suffers regardless, whether she eats wheat or not. And there is nothing I can do to take away that pain.