Archive for the ‘celiac disease’ Category


The Neighborhood of Make-Believe

April 4, 2011

A few years ago, while looking wistfully out the window at the house down the hill from us, Cole whispered ‘I wish I were in their family’.

He said it so quietly, so still-ly.  I yearned to pretend I hadn’t heard.  My heart plummeted and bruised my toes.  My cheeks began to flame with the prickly anticipation of dread.  The air rushed out of my lungs and made an audible ‘OhhhHHhh’.  He looked up at me with a face of innocent inquiry and I tried to scramble, casually replying ‘um, why is that?’

The neighbors down the hill were friendly, yet acquaintances we barely knew.  But I knew enough to preemptively cringe at what I surmised I would be given; a list of the ‘mores’.  More toys.  More vacations.  More motors; boats, cars, kid ATV’s.  More hours to stay up late.  There were plenty of mores.

‘Well, if I were in their family, I wouldn’t have Celiac Disease and I could eat whatever I wanted.’  I had projected onto Cole my own insecurities, my interpretation of what I assumed he would see lacking in our family, that I very nearly missed his profound and simple wish.

But sometimes, our kids’ wishes are based in materiality.  And when we hear these, it is difficult not to jump defensively into the litanies of we can’ts, we won’ts, we never wills.  We reflexively jerk into adult responses due to adult responsibility:  is it safe?  practical?  financially viable?  Yet our kids aren’t criticizing our ability to provide, they are simply imagining outside of their box.  Their words aren’t loaded with the social commentary we presume, they are simply dreaming a different reality.  We need to listen to these wishes, not for the content on top, but for what it tells us about what is important to our children underneath.

But sometimes, our kids’ wishes degrade into whines.  By osmosis, or more likely by sheer bludgeoning of repetition, at our house the wish of the elder became the wish of the younger.  ‘Aaannnhhh, I wwwwwiiiiiiisssshhhh we had a booAAt’ became available in stereo, and I began to lose my mind.  When out running errands with the two of them I contemplated complex and circuitous routes that would utilize only landlocked roads; anything to prevent the backseat passengers from glimpsing the kayaks, canoes, yachts, pleasure cruisers, fishing vessels and ocean liners that dot our town’s waterways.  Sometimes, wishes require action.  So I bought a piggy bank.  A cheerful, ceramic, polka dot piggy bank that lives on a shelf nestled amongst the art supplies.  If current rates continue, they will have saved enough for a dingy by the middle of the next century.  And the boat moaning?  It has magically ended.  The little ‘boat bank’ has calmed the waters, reassuring them that no matter how big the dream, there are small steps they can take every day to reach it.  Hope floats.

It is a powerful moment when our children trust us with their wishes, and it provides us an opportunity to share our own.  We can explore with them the duality of gently holding our wishes and living contentedly now.  Together we can listen for the bells and whistle of the red trolley, just waiting to take us to The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.


Hang On Little Tomato

December 31, 2010

A new blog.  The eve of a New Year.

Both feel big, momentous, full of promise, stacked on the edge of a precipice, jammed with nerves about what will happen next.  Yet instead of focusing on large leaps I keep circling around this morning to thoughts of little tomatoes.  (and if you’d like audio to go with the visual, the sound track for this post is Pink Martini’s ‘Hang On Little Tomato’)  Specifically, tiny cherry or grape tomatoes that, for years, I have been silently adding to my son’s dinner plate.  It took us 4 1/2 agonizing years to get Cole’s Celiac Disease diagnosed, and in that time his body came to view any food as poison.  He was a finicky eater, devouring foods to the exclusion of all others, only to suddenly cease any interest.  In the 5 plus years since his diagnosis, his palate has expanded, but any new food is assumed to be one with hostile intent.  By extreme contrast, his little sister Eleanor is the great adventure eater.  Willing to try anything once she has asked in her pip-squeak voice ‘excuse me, but is there gluten in this?’.

Which brings us back to the tomatoes.

By the age of 3 Eleanor thought little tomatoes were bursts of great delight.  For nearly an entire year Cole refused them.  Then there were months of grumbling while he ingested only one or two.  Followed by weeks and days of begrudgingly accepting as many little tomatoes as he is years old.  Yet in the last few months the tomatoes and Cole have reached a truce, maybe even a tentative friendship.  I now blithely pile 10, 12 even 13 little tomatoes on his plate.  I have stopped holding my breath waiting for the ‘MMMOOOOOommmm, I am only 9!  There should be only 9 tomatoes’.

Little Tomatoes, large leap.

Sometimes in parenting it is hard to read the playing field.  (now there’s an understatement, at least at my house).  Which parenting tool should I pull from my tool box?  Will it work?  If it works today, does it burn bridges for working again in the future?  For the little tomatoes, quiet persistence was the tool.  Seeing that the goal wasn’t a tomato today, but loving tomatoes when you are 26.  While Cole isn’t actually asking for tomatoes, I feel like we are on the way.  Will he love tomatoes when he is 26?  I don’t know.  But I’ll keep you posted.


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