Little Miss is allergic to dairy. And honestly, I’m grateful. It could be so much worse. She has just the one allergy, and it isn’t life threatening. If she accidentally eats it, it won’t kill her – she just gets sick from it. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to spend every minute of every day worrying that she’s accidentally ingested something that will end her life as so many other parents have to.
That said, she still can’t eat dairy. And I know it’s in “everything.” The good news is that it’s one of the eight major allergens, so it’s easy to identify because it is listed on ingredient labels either under “this product contains:” or the dairy ingredients are bolded in the ingredient listing. Because dairy comes in so many forms from milk to whey protein to casein and so many more. And restaurants have gotten so much better about having allergy friendly menus to help us figure out what to eat – or the chef will make things not on the menu like a plain grilled chicken breast with roasted veggies.
It definitely makes our lives easier, and Little Miss is happy when she’s able to fit in.
That said, I don’t expect you to cater to us. When you bring in treats for the entire class for your child’s birthday, I don’t need or expect you to bring in something special for my child. There are 20 some kids in the class, and I don’t expect special treatment. That’s why we keep a supply of frozen cupcakes she can eat in the freezer at school for her. The same goes when you have a birthday party. Let me know what you’re serving, and I’ll bring the equivalent for her. Many moms now insist that they’ll make sure there’s food she can eat, and I appreciate it, but I don’t by any means expect it.
When there are class parties for Valentine’s Day – like there will be next week – the line starts to blur a little. As room moms, you sent home a letter at the beginning of the year asking if we had any allergies so you could accommodate them at the parties. You know we have a dairy allergy, so why does all the food contain only dairy? You have cheese puffs, cheese sticks, cookies, and ice cream. Again, I see the list ahead of time since you ask other parents to volunteer to bring in the goodies, so I know what to send for her. At least she has something because I can provide for it.
Where I’ve started to get annoyed, however, is at our Brownie meetings. This is our fourth year of Girl Scouts, and we have seven girls in our troop, including Little Miss. You know she has a dairy allergy, yet there has not been a single meeting in these four years where you’ve had a snack she can eat. Not once. This time, it was cookies. Last month, it was a caramel brownie. The month before was more brownies. And there’s the popcorn made with butter, the cookies, the pizza, and more.
There are seven girls. Seven. And I don’t get a warning even when there will or won’t be food, so I’m put in the awkward position of yet again asking if you’re planning to serve food. And if I forget – which I did this month – then Little Miss is left out of this small group of girls. Fortunately, I carry a bag of snacks in my car, but it tends to be granola bars rather than sweets.
It makes me so sad that Girl Scouts is supposed to be about caring and consideration and compassion, and you leave my daughter out every month. We don’t need food there, as the meetings are usually two hours or less. And it isn’t hard to find food that is dairy free – truly it isn’t. You go through the effort of planning meetings and buying everything for it, please take the time – because this is a small group and it’s the same issue month after month – to find something, just one thing, that my daughter can eat.
Do you need ideas of snacks and foods that are dairy free? Here are some to try. You still have to check labels because brands use different ingredients and they change things up from time to time, too, but at least it give you a place to start:
- Graham crackers
- Plain popcorn (Skinny Pop, Angie’s Kettle Corn, etc are already bagged and popped even)
- Granola bars (true granola – like most of Nature Valley’s flavors)
- Beef jerky
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruit
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Tortilla chips and salsa/guacamole
- Dried fruit strips
- Many cereals
And that’s just what I could come up with off the top of my head. There are so many options out there, and more come every day.
I don’t mean to whine or to complain. In general, I accept that my daughter’s allergy is my responsibility. When there is a large group or when it’s a one-off event, we don’t expect any special treatment. It’s when a small group gets together month after month after month that I start to question why no easy accommodations can be made.
Because she’s an eight year old girl, and she’s watching her friends eat in front of her over and over again, knowing she can’t share. How do you think she’s feeling?