Two of my three children have food allergies, but I feel like we’re seasoned veterans in the game, and not too much throws us for a loop at this point. My five year old got invited to her classmate’s birthday party. When I called to RSVP, I said “No problem” when the mom mentioned there would be pizza and cake — neither of which, in their traditional forms, Sophie can have.
When there’s a birthday at school, Sophie’s teacher gives us a heads up if someone will be bringing in cupcakes or pizza, and my saint of a husband will usually whip up allergen-free pizza and defrost a cupcake the morning of. (We bake “Sophie-safe” cupcakes in bulk and freeze them for such an occasion.)
The day of the party, we all pile into our babe-mobile (my name for our ultra-cool minivan), and drop off my husband and Sophie at the birthday party. I continue on with Remmy (my eldest, 6) and Minnie (my youngest, 3) to a restaurant for a little bonding time.
We order food and sit and color. As the food arrives, I get a text from my husband.
Forgot the cupcake at home.
At this point, we’re all about five bites in, and I relay the message to my daughters. Remmy’s eyes widen. As a food-allergy kid, she knows the disappointment of showing up to a party and not being able to eat anything there. When the diagnoses first came around, we had declined birthday party invitations altogether to avoid wiping away tears because they couldn’t participate in the sundae bar or eat Smores around the campfire.
Remmy put her sandwich down. “Mommy, can we leave right now and bring Sophie’s cupcake to her?”
I text my husband back, hand off my credit card to the server, and start wrapping up food. The three of us hustle off back to the babe-mobile, and I get another text.
Everyone’s eating pizza. Will be starting cake in about ten or so.
We drive. As we approach the house, I ask Remmy and Minnie if they need to take a quick bathroom break before heading back to the party — they had pounded water at the restaurant.
“No, Mommy! I can wait. I just really want to get Sophie’s cupcake to her because I don’t want her to feel left out!”
As I pull in the driveway, I shout to my neighbor washing his car that I’ll be right back; our neighbors are really friendly and happy to keep an eye out when needed. I dash inside, stick the cupcake in a Tupperware container, and run back outside.
We pull up to the party, and I hand off the cupcake through the driver’s side window to my husband, who whisks Sophie back inside just in time to sing Happy Birthday and cut into a beautiful Elsa cake (Remmy begged for photos).
Remmy, Minnie, and I hit the local Target for a bathroom break and to kill some time checking out clothes in the girls’ section.
“I’m really glad Sophie was able to have a cupcake,” Remmy sighs thoughtfully in front of a table of leggings.
“Me too,” I say.
Thirty minutes later, Sophie is all smiles and regales us with stories from her friend’s birthday celebration.
I catch a glimpse of Remmy in the rearview mirror. While our journey with food allergies has been a tough one, I am so pleased that because of it or maybe in spite of it, my six-year old acts with compassion and kindness — traits I hope our society can continue to cultivate as food allergy awareness grows.
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