I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Did you? If not, maybe you aren’t familiar with the phrase, “No big whoop!” But when I was a kid it was pretty common. As in, oh your Walkman ran out of batteries? No big whoop, we can take them out of my brother’s Atari joystick.
You could say no big deal instead, but for a little while it was cooler to say no big whoop.
No one says it anymore (which is probably a good thing since it sounds rather silly), but the phrase rose up from my subconscious the other day when I was thinking about people’s reactions to Bunky’s celiac diagnosis.
Shortly after we found out what was wrong with B, I was surprised by how many people tried to downplay it, ala, no big whoop. Some would listen courteously, often sympathetically especially if they had seen how sick B was, but once I explained the whole eating gluten free (often) = a full recovery, the no big whoop factor would quickly emerge. “Oh, well isn’t it great how there are so many gluten free options nowadays!” and “Every kid has something.”
It’s true, every kid has “something” (more on that in a moment), and of course I am grateful for the non-medicinal “cure” for celiac (i.e. diet) and the wide array of gluten free food options. I’ve heard horror stories about disintegrating bread from a decade ago that would have made me weep if I had to feed it to my child. As for every kid has something, yes, they do, and some of those “things” are worse for sure, but this is what my kid has and what we have to deal with on a daily basis, for the rest of her life.
And for good measure, let’s throw in some context – I was getting so much of this no big whoop business just days after my daughter’s trip to the ER, when her stomach was still hard as a drum the bones visible in her chest, and the glazed look still present in her eyes.
No big whoop? Well, at the time it sure felt like a big whoop.
Fast forward a year plus and I still hear this kind of commentary quite frequently. Many days it doesn’t bother me at all. I understand it’s what people grasp onto because changing your child’s diet seems simple, and it is to some extent. There are tons of GF options to choose from at the grocery stores and bodegas in my neighborhood. And if I can’t find it in person, chances are I can order it on Amazon. It’s really great.
But there are days when I’m busy making pizza AND cupcakes for Bunky to bring to another birthday party, navigating the tricky business of sharing snacks on group play dates (ohmygod did that kid just stick her gluten-rific hand into my eight dollar bag of Glutino pretzels?!?), and wondering when and how we’re going to tell B’s great-grandma that she has to stop baking her cookies because we’re worried about cross contamination (cross what?) – and these are the days when I have to struggle to compose my face and say something neutral.
Am I being crazy? Over sensitive? Maybe. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I am grateful but it doesn’t change the fact that I have to plan ahead EVERY time my daughter needs to eat. That’s three meals a day, not counting snacks, not counting eating on the go, not counting eating at school, or with family and friends. People eat without thinking – understandably so, I used to – but I don’t have that luxury anymore. Whenever we leave the house I have to pack safe food for my four-year-old daughter – if you have a young child you know they are almost always hungry and not at the most convenient times. But unlike other parents I can’t just stop at a bagel shop (or a drive through window if you’re in the suburbs) and buy her lunch if I’ve forgotten to bring it. Sure, I can pick up fruit, yogurt, and cheese, which is good in a pinch, but anything more substantial needs to be figured out ahead of time.
Maybe in a few more years I’ll feel more blasé; I’ll be no big whooping all over the place. But until then I like to vent to friends who understand and in my blog, where it’s totally fine if you don’t understand, and even okay if you disagree, but I still get to write about it because it’s my blog.
My friend M, whose young son has celiac, gets it. I think of her when my neutral face starts to twitch. When we joke about it together my favorite part is her deadpan punch line to people’s enthusiastic exclamations about the landslide of gluten free food options. “Well, it’s good to know we won’t STARVE!”
No, we won’t starve, and we are lucky for that (I’m not being sarcastic, there are too many children starving in the world) but for a period of time my daughter’s body was starving. She was wasting away, and her little twig arms and legs stuck out of big hard barrel of a belly.
Today while she looks fine to outsiders, she actually isn’t completely healed. Her antibody levels aren’t as low as her doctor would like them to be. We have to be super vigilant to make sure she isn’t getting any accidental gluten so her body can stop attacking itself (which is literally what happens when you have an autoimmune disease, which is what celiac is).
I do feel truly fortunate that my dear girl is no longer starving and that we have the means to afford pricey GF breads and pastas, but please don’t big whoop me. I’m just not there yet.
Are you? And if so, how did you get there?
To sweeten up this post I’m sending you to Gluten Free on a Shoestring for some delicious looking Vanilla Whoopie Pies with chocolate filling. Yum! Even better than the often sub par packaged gluten free cookies are the kind you bake at home, with your kiddos.