This year, as usual, no one signed up to be Room Mom for my second graderʼs class. So, as usual, I ended up with the responsibility. We found out that my son had celiac at the end of the last school year, and the traditional end of year party is a pizza party. So my hands were a little tied on that one. And to be totally honest, since he was newly diagnosed and still cried every time someone brought in cupcakes, I caved and let him eat the pizza. But this year, I am better prepared. I have a stash of frozen cupcakes in my freezer for birthday parties and a stash of brownies in the nursesʼ freezer at school for unexpected events. And my son is slowly getting accustomed to the fact that he just canʼt eat what everyone else can. Because heʼs different.
Child psychologists are always telling us to teach our children to embrace qualities that make them unique and different. Even religion tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, meaning that no part of our physical or mental self is a mistake or accident. And sometimes, this is a pretty easy sell. Like if someone (me) is shorter than their peers, or has a bunch of unwanted freckles. But Iʼm having a bit of a hard time getting my son to love the fact that he will never be able to eat Papa Johnʼs pizza, or somebodyʼs birthday cake without his body basically rejecting it. Iʼm thinking the best I can hope for is resigned acceptance.
This is where the whole story and about being Room Mom comes in. I was in the middle of planning the Second Grade Holiday Party, and I suddenly thought of one of my favorite quotes (courtesy of Spider Man)....”with great responsibility comes great power”. I love that quote, it cracks me up that its from a superhero show and I like to quote it to my sons whenever applicable. But the application in this case was the realization if I wanted to, I could try and make the class party entirely gluten free. It could be my sonʼs chance to be just like everyone else. Which prompts the following question...is making the classroom party G-Free an abuse of power, or an exercise in enlightenment?
So I started to think about implementation. On a twenty five dollar budget I need to put together 4 stations: cookie decoration, ornament making, reindeer food kits and a party game. And unfortunately, reindeer food kits include oatmeal, and buying enough gluten free oatmeal and sugar cookies for 25 kids would blow my budget right there. And then I pictured the kids eating gluten free sugar cookies....”this tastes different” or “why are my cookies so crumbly”. So I decided against having an entirely G-Free party for three reasons. Cost, ease of execution, and lack of a acceptable sugar cookie. I donʼt know of any pre-made G-Free sugar cookies that are very good, and although Iʼve had some success in making my own, they taste good but are kinda crumbly. Iʼd rather just have my son have his own G-free cookie that heʼs used to and buy pre-made cookies for the rest of the class. That way, he wonʼt have to listen to his classmates (possibly) complaining about something that he considers delicious. I think that would be more hurtful to his self esteem than simply eating a slightly different cookie. Besides, Iʼm pretty sure my son would rather have me spend my money on more Christmas presents. So with one fell swoop, my grand plan was sacked and my power rendered useless - as if someone brought gluten-filled Kryptonite into the room.
Have I made the right choice? I donʼt know, but Iʼm sticking to it. Iʼve decided that, given the facts, it would be an unsuccessful exercise in enlightenment. Iʼd love to hear what you all think since I still have quite a few more class parties to organize over the course of the year. Regardless, Iʼm still stuck making at least a batch of sugar cookies for my son, so if you have a great G-Free sugar cookie recipe you would like to share, please do. And if you know of a yummy, chewy pre-made cookie that I havenʼt tried Iʼd love that info too. Hereʼs to a happy Holiday season and successful gluten free baking!
G-Free Mommy Hilary