I go through times, as I’m sure many bloggers do, when an idea on what I should write about just doesn’t materialize. More often than not, topics pop into my head at strange times, such as when I’m mowing the grass or at 1:00 in the morning during a bout with insomnia. I’ve started keeping a small notebook close by so when these thoughts do come about, I will record them and have the ideas at the ready for when I sit down again at my computer. Since my goal is to advocate Celiac for the purpose of providing an easier life for my son as he gets older, I often write, ad nauseam, about different foods, restaurants and the threats of cross-contamination. I try to stay away from rehashing these topics over and over even though they are the source of the majority of the issues that Cam faces. If I feel bored writing about it, I’m sure the readers of this blog are pretty tired of hearing about it too. So, I try to focus on other things. Things that stand out, such as a positive gluten free experience for Cam that I think deserves more recognition than I can provide by simply saying “thank you” (thinking of you Tina Griffith).
But this week, in terms of topic ideas, has been relatively quiet. Not much traveling. No celiac-related issues from eating out (for which we are very thankful). Not many new things that I felt were “share-worthy”. A couple of days ago, when my internal clock was telling me that it was time to write another blog, I was getting desperate. I was ready to open my notebook to see what ideas I had in reserve since my mind was not producing anything at the creative level. It was then that, not one, but two things happened. Experiences that occurred within the span of a couple of hours that were totally unrelated to one another but both an example of our lives in the gluten free community. One was an instance where we were able to provide advice for the safety of a Celiac that we haven’t even met. The other, an instance where something was provided to a Celiac that we dearly love.
Since September, my family has been immersed in the world of gluten-free living. It is a 24/7 mentality that we must follow for Cam’s safety. An indirect effect of this is that we are now seen in our social circles as the Google of anything gluten free or Celiac related. By no means are we close to being experts in doing this (I came close to contaminating my son’s lunch the other day) but I guess it comes with the territory and we would rather share and answer questions than not be asked and risk the consequences. My wife and I were out for our anniversary dinner and afterwards, we found ourselves loitering at a WalMart (because doesn’t everyone do this after 16 years of marriage?). While there, we ran into a friend of the family. She was shopping for party favors for her daughter’s first birthday party that was being held the next day. Through the course of the conversation, she brought up that her daughter’s daycare “teacher” was going to be at the party and that this teacher was also a Celiac. Our friend had been using my blog to help her with the planning of the food that she would be serving at the party. She went over what they were having and mentioned that she had bought new jars of peanut butter and containers of cream cheese to help avoid cross-contamination for their Celiac guest. I casually mentioned that she should make the teacher’s meal first, before possibly contaminating the peanut butter and cream cheese when making the non-gluten free offerings. It was a step that she had not thought of. My wife also took the time during this conversation to provide a quick tutorial on what else our friend should look for on the food labels to assure that the other items were safe. We know what Cam goes through and try to provide helpful advice when we can since we do not wish these symptoms upon anyone else. I’m not sure how the party went (I’m sure it was fabulous) or if the Celiac teacher even had any food but it made my wife and I feel good that we could give our knowledge to provide a better experience for a complete stranger.
This same day, Cam came home from school with a smile on his face. I attributed this to the fact that it was a Friday and he was looking forward to a weekend without school work. As I always do, I asked him how his day went. His typical response to this question is a simple “good” and that’s about all the feedback that I receive. This day was different. When I asked about his day, he proceeded to tell me about what he described as “something really cool”. During his Language Arts class, he discovered that his teacher was having her birthday and she brought in a treat for the class to help her celebrate. Normally, classroom treats are a cause for raising the red flag and Cam having to give a polite “no, thank you”. This teacher, though, gave him a gift for her birthday. The treats that she brought in were individual cake mixes to which you just add water and heat up in the microwave. Before distributing these to the rest of the class, she provided Cam with his own treat; a gluten free mix just for him. Not only did she have the forward thinking to bring this in for him, she also had previously cleaned out the microwave and made sure that he got to go first to avoid any cross-contamination from the other treats. No wonder he thought this was “something really cool”. His teacher provided the environment for him to participate in a school activity that we thought was no longer possible. And the result was one smiling pre-teen.
Looking back, I don’t think that it’s coincidence that these events happened on the same day. Some would call it karma. Others may say it’s an example of what goes around, comes around. I just see it as an example of the community that I am proud to be a part of. One that cares for each other and puts other’s interests before their own. One that understands that giving is better than receiving. In today’s society, communities such as these are less the norm and becoming few and far between. So, when examples of kindness within our community does come up, kindness that I want my own children to exemplify in every day life, I find it worthy to write about.