School’s Out For Summer

Bunky has officially graduated from pre-K.

bunky graduate

The morning of graduation.

This happened days ago yet I’m still in denial. Is that weird? I seriously feel like this year just started. Like it was JUST the first day of school and we took these pictures of her scooting along, determined and strong, toward the unknown.

That helmet doesn't even fit her anymore. Look, Little Guy was in the Ergo! I'm totally dying of nostalgia.

That helmet doesn’t even fit her anymore. Little Guy was in the Ergo! I’m totally dying of nostalgia.

She has grown up this year. So much. In inches, absolutely. The kid is a like a string bean, and not like one of those skinny ones, but a long lean sturdy bean soaring toward the sun.

Her pre-K experience was truly night and day to our nightmare play-school at age 3. We’ll obviously never know why. Clearly, having a new sibling and a recent celiac diagnosis were huge factors. But regardless, she began her new school at age 4 with nerves but no tears, and for the most part over the past ten months she went eagerly and happily.

We loved her teachers, and so did she. They “got” her Bunky-ness. The kid has always been slow to warm. (Which is putting it mildly if you knew her as a baby.) I will always be grateful to these women for nurturing, caring, and teaching her. They told us how much they enjoyed watching Bunky blossom each day, and throughout the year.

As in normal life, the hardest parts at school to navigate GF were holidays and birthdays. I had an open line of communication with the head teacher, and for the most part was able to provide Bunky with safe (and awesome tasting) alternatives to gluten. Sure, the whole Thanksgiving Feast kinda sucked (for my kid) but she might not have eaten much anyway because she’s so picky. She didn’t even try my gorgeous GF apple pie, for crying out loud (but I did, and it rocked, thanks to GF on a Shoestring).

gluten free apple pie

When it was time to make Gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, I brought in GF ones and the teacher provided only allergy safe candy choices so Bunky could get the same high-octane sugar high as her classmates.

For me, the biggest food related issue had to do with graduation. I offered to bake the class allergy free chocolate cupcakes (ala Bunky’s birthday cake) thinking it would be nice (for once) if EVERYONE could eat and enjoy the same thing, but the teacher had other plans. Maybe I’ll write about it one day, maybe not.

But ultimately, upon realizing that my homemade confection would never compete with the gluten-rific cake being made by a pastry chef (!) I picked up a 3-layer allergy free polka dot cake from Tu-Lu’s Bakery (love that place) for Bunky and a pal in class who is allergic to eggs and nuts.

tulu graduation cake

Pic taken hastily during post graduation celebration.

The cake was INSANELY delicious, and both girls enjoyed it, as well as Little Guy, but the point is – as I’ve said before – separate isn’t necessarily equal. I know my girl noticed that her friends were eating something different, especially after the teacher made a very big production about it in front of The Whole Class. This did not go unnoticed by my husband or by the other allergy mom in the room. It sucked, actually.

But, moving along…

In just a few short months our dear girl will be in kindergarten (!) and I will have to begin anew the whole GF education shebang to her teachers and school administrators. This is the mountain that I basically have to climb Every Year. We’re like Sisyphus, us allergy and celiac moms. For those of you not obsessed with Greek mythology, Sisyphus (unfortunately named, really) is that poor schmuck whose punishment is to roll a huge bolder up a mountain only to watch it roll back down and have to do it all over again. Forever. Unlike Sisyphus, who was apparently a real jackass (thus the horrible punishment, Greek gods style), us moms are doing this Sisyphean feat out of pure LOVE and devotion to our kids’ health. And not just physical health, mind you, but emotional as well.

I have to admit I’m rather relieved that my herculean task can be put off for a few more months. Now I don’t have to scramble to make lunch every morning before 8:15 am or coordinate with parents about birthday party cupcake flavors or volunteer for class parties. Nope. All I have to do is hang out with my two kids all day. ALL DAY?!?! Yeah, not really doing much camp this summer, so my posts may be a little more slap dash than usual. But stay tuned for the much anticipated Lunch Box review (I know you’ve been waiting for this) and my summer time equivalent to those endless ball recipes, ice and yogurt pops!

Happy Summer everyone!

19 thoughts on “School’s Out For Summer

  1. Trust me that I know what it’s like to educate school staff every.stinking.year! But it does get easier. Meredith’s celiac diagnosis came 1 week before kindergarten started. I was a werck, but also already had an appointment to do diabetes education, so it worked. I also found out that there were lots of other kids at school who were celiac. And I understand completely that seperate is not always (if ever) equal. I get it.

    • Oh my gosh, ONE WEEK before kindergarten sounds really intense! Interesting that you discovered lots of other celiac kids. We have yet to fine ONE who is Bunky’s age, let alone in her school (this past year), but who knows, maybe we’ll find some celiac companions this fall! Thanks for the understanding, too. I really appreciate it!

  2. Congrats Bunky! On to kindergarten, time does fly. My little celiac is going into grade 4 and I think it’s much easier for us. She pretty much knows not to eat anything unless she know’s it’s gluten free, I’ve sent her to school with it, or the package itself says gluten free. Her last teacher, also had me bring in packaged goodies for her when parties did arise and I have to admit that many, many parents made an effort to bring gluten free treats or at least a gluten free treat for her. However there is no getting around the fact that these kids are singled out, and I know it makes them feel sad at times. But lucky for Bunky, she has a wonderful mom who goes out of her way to try and make every situation as good as can be. Dana, one day Bunky will appreciate it and thank you for all the hard work. Enjoy the relaxing summer ahead!

    • That sounds really awesome that your daughter’s classmates went out of their way to provide GF treats. Yet another reason why we should consider a cross country move! No one really did that for Bunky this year, except one lovely woman attempted a G free mac and cheese for the Thanksgiving feast. It’s hard because I’m torn between accepting kind offers (when they come by) for baking GF and being nervous about their prep and cross contamination. I guess it’s almost easier when the offers do not come along, in a way.

      Aw, thanks for your kind words Jenny! I do my best for my super sensitive kiddo 🙂

  3. That cake looks so delicious! Congrats to Bunky! She is adorable and it really is amazing how fast they grow up. That’s sad to think about how difficult it must be for her in school feeling so left out, but you are a wonderful mother trying to provide so many options!

  4. This is one of those posts that make me wish we were neighbors… I want to know what your preschool teacher made!! I HATE it when there is a big production about this AMAZING thing that we can’t eat. It makes me want to poke eyeballs or pull arm hair… It drives me nuts.

    But I’m so excited that B is headed to Kindergarten! She has gotten so big and so beautiful! How crazy/fun it will be! Our experience in grade school has been awesome with the Celiac… teachers and moms have been incredibly understanding about having all the treats THE SAME! I love it.

    love Jess

    • Hey Jess! Did I respond to you already? My brain is swiss cheese now that it’s summer and both kids are home, oy!

      Anyway, reading your note made me smile and feel SO grateful for your solidarity and friendship in this crazy GF journey. The cake at B’s pre-K grad was actually made by a student’s mom, who is a pastry chef, but the teacher was obviously VERY excited to have some… That’s what it comes down to, I find, it’s the adults who often NEED the fancy gluten stuff more than the kids, who I’m sure would’ve been perfectly happy with some allergy free chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles. Your line, “poke eyeballs or pull arm hair” is freaking awesome, by the way 🙂

      Aw, thanks for the sweet words about my girl! I hope our grade school experience will be as great as yours! How wonderful that the teachers and moms have been so fantastic. I try to keep my expectations low, though, so as not to be disappointed, but I can hope!

  5. Yayyyy, congratulations to Bunky, and to you for providing all those gluten-free treats along the way! What a bummer about the teacher. Sometimes it’s shocking to me, the things teachers say and do—as if they haven’t thought a bit about what kind of lasting impression they might be making on the kids in their care.

    • Thanks so much Molly! Yeah, bummer about the teacher. She just didn’t seem to “get” the whole social element of having celiac, how much kids notice and feel their difference… but in all other ways she was wonderful to my daughter, so I’m grateful for that. But, OY! The really special teachers know how much impact all their words and actions have, maybe we’ll get one for K next year, fingers crossed 🙂

  6. First of all- you are awesome. And you totally nailed the Sisyphus metaphor- woot! Your attitude kind of astounds me- I wonder if I would be bitter and irritable about having to educate/supplement/troubleshoot all over again each year. And oh my- that photo of your brave little sweetie on her scooter about killed me with cuteness. So sweet. What a year- you wrapped it up so beautifully!

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