You know my daughter can't eat that - when it becomes your job to provide for us

Thanks For Ignoring Our Allergy

February 7, 2014 by Michelle

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.

You know my daughter can't eat that - when it becomes your job to provide for us

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
  • Pretzels
  • Plain popcorn (Skinny Pop, Angie’s Kettle Corn, etc are already bagged and popped even)
  • Oreos
  • Fruit
  • Granola bars (true granola – like most of Nature Valley’s flavors)
  • Beef jerky
  • Dark chocolate
  • Marshmallows
  • Dried fruit
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Tortilla chips and salsa/guacamole
  • Dried fruit strips
  • Pasta
  • Many cereals
  • Sorbet

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?

    Comments

  • Andrea


    I am angry for you. I am sorry that they do not take this into account. How hard is it? We don’t always have snacks, but I always check them to make sure they aren’t bad for any of our girls. We don’t have any allergies, but we have some picky kids. So it is different, for sure, but accommodating them should be so simple, I am sorry, that stinks. 🙁

    • Michelle


      I’m not angry, but I’m frustrated and somewhat resigned. In my mind, it isn’t hard. I made snacks for the boy in my son’s class who also has a dairy allergy because no one else will. The mom there told me that she just “doesn’t think of it” which I think is common when you don’t have an allergy in the family, but still so sad for the kids.

  • Ellen


    I’ve known parents like this who call allergies “hard”. And yet, like you, I make it really easy. Just give me some heads up and I can make it work for my kid. What reason do the troop leaders give you for being unable to accommodate?

    • Michelle


      None. I just get a shrug and a blank look. They don’t see it as a big deal. Or they apologize when we’re there and there’s nothing for her, but by then it’s too late and the same thing next month. I’ve sort of given up. Mostly. *sigh*

  • JaimeLovesStuff.com


    That is too bad that they can’t be courteous to the fact! Good grief, it’s not like she hasn’t been a member of the troop long enough! It’s a small group of girls. How sad that she can’t snack with her friends! I’m sorry. This sucks!!!

    You are so thoughtful to make sure there are goodies for her. You are such a good mom! I know how much it sucks to have an allergy- I am deadly allergy to berries with external seeds (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries) and fish/shellfish. It is a bummer when I have to pass on certain restaurants because of my allergies. I do enjoy going out with my vegan friends!

    • Michelle


      Wow, that’s a bummer of an allergy, too. They aren’t IN everything like nuts and milk and gluten and soy, but you miss out on so much. A good friend has a major fish/shellfish allergy, and it’s always nerve wracking when we order to make sure that his food will be safe, but I get it – death is not a good thing, nor is a trip to the hospital!

  • Sara


    Michelle, how terrible that you even had to write this. I would never think to bring a snack for my daughter’s class which would knowingly be something one of the kids can’t eat and not bring them something special too. That’s just mean.

    Then again, growing up, I was the “odd kid out” most of the time and it wasn’t fun. And like you said, it’s not really that difficult to bring a treat all the kids would be able to eat and enjoy.

    • Michelle


      For the whole class for a birthday, I get it. It’s a one off thing that you do just one time, and it’s about celebrating YOUR kid. It’s the occasions that happen more often with smaller groups that make me really sad for her. I’m just happy that she’s such an easy going kid!

  • Sandra


    I’m so sorry that Little Miss has been repeatedly left out in these situations. It’s not really that hard to be a little more considerate and thoughtful about snacks! I can only imagine how she feels watching other kids eat. (How’s her ear? Hope she’s feeling better?)

    • Michelle


      I’m with you that I don’t think it’s that hard, but so many parents have no experience with it and just don’t have the confidence or top of mind to think about it… so she gets left out. Good news is that her ear is looking better – ear drops and antibiotics, and knock on wood when we go back to the ENT, it will be healing well!

  • Jamie


    Hello! I stumbled upon your blog because of your delicious cookie dough truffles and I noticed this post. I can understand the frustration- I’ve been vegan for over a year and not everyone knows how to make things or get things that don’t have dairy in them. It seems like you’ve done so much already and but if you’re still annoyed, I would say something- give them a small card like a business card with the list of foods that you gave above and then they can stick it in their wallet and have it available when they go shopping. It’s frustrating, but I can completely understand how people don’t really think about it because I too was one of those people who didn’t think twice about whether a food dish had dairy in it until I stopped eating it. Best of luck to you and your daughter!

  • Dana


    I sure hope that they read this post and made some changes by now. It can be a simple change. Milk allergy isn’t that hard to avoid, just read labels.

    • Michelle


      We aren’t in that troop now. And it’s been a few years, so here’s hoping they’re overall more aware of and accommodating towards allergies 🙂

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