I try so hard for every special day (that involves food--which is pretty much every special day) to make or do something special for my food allergic kiddos. But I fell short this Valentine's Day.
First of all, here's my soapbox: When did Valentine's Day become such a candy-filled holiday for kids? When I was a kid, all we got were cheap Valentine cards -- only cards, no candy, no toys -- from our classmates. The candy was for grown ups. You know, a man gives a woman a box of chocolates. Maybe we occasionally got some conversation hearts. But now everyone is giving everyone else candy. Most of it contains milk, and the "safe" candy contains artificial colors. So pretty much all of it is out for my kids.
The classroom parties have expanded since I was a kid too. It used to be the children passing out their cards to classmates, then everyone opening them to see what they got. Now it's a party run by a room mom involving food and games. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It is something for the kids to look forward to, and it gives the teachers a break. It's a great bonding experience for the kids. But, of course, it always involves food. At least at our school it does. I know several schools have a "no food in the classroom" policy. We are not there yet. So we have to come prepared. (Side note: We are not a peanut-free school, but both classes sent e-mails stating that all food brought into the classrooms needed to be peanut-free. There is lots of discussion about schools going peanut-free. I have to say, I much more of a fan of an allergy-aware school than a peanut-free school. More about this later.)
As you have seen from previous blog and Facebook posts, I usually make a selection of things for my kids to enjoy at their school parties. Something festive and seasonal. But this week I wasn't up to it. We moved last weekend, and we are still settling into our temporary town home. We moved all the big stuff last Saturday so we could sleep and eat here, but everyday we've been going back for more loads of boxes. And we have been doing lots of unpacking. All this with four small children under foot and still working full time. It's been a busy week, and I didn't take the time to make something cute and heart shaped. Actually, the food prep isn't what takes the longest. It's the thinking about what to make that takes the most effort. My brain just wasn't up to it.
I grabbed a box of Enjoy Life cookies and headed to the school parties. Earlier in the day, GirlyGirl's room mom had called to explain that the chocolate for the chocolate fountain had a warning of "may contain peanuts." But she had gone out of her way to get a package of Baker's dipping chocolate that was safe. She read the ingredient list to me over the phone and brought the container to school for me to see. Most of the other food was in its original package so I could check which foods were safe. I took GirlyGirl aside and showed her which foods were safe and which we weren't sure of (those that didn't have a label). She did great and enjoyed a plateful of snacks with her classmates. (We are gradually adding products with milk in them to see how her body responds. You can read my previous post about this here.)
I scooted over to Bubs' classroom to check on his food situation. I was pleasantly surprised that the only food offered to his class was squeeze applesauce and fruit kabobs. I ended up not even needing the cookies I had brought. And I was so glad I hadn't spent the extra time and energy to make cute little heart shaped treats since my kids could actually eat the food that was provided. It turned out great!
The downside: all the candy that came home with the cards. We sorted though all the cards and removed all the candy. This was when the box of Enjoy Life cookies came in handy. The kids were happy with the trade, and all was well! Happy Valentine's Day!