My youngest daughter is 7 years old, but we’ve known she’s had Celiac since she was about 2 years old. Last night, she had a bit of a break down. We were packing her lunch and she was so undecided what to pack. We had several options– chicken tenders, ham and cheese rolls with crackers, tuna and crackers, PBJ– all gluten free, of course. She had a melt down. She didn’t want any of those choices. Ugh! She didn’t want to pack a lunch anymore. Instead, she wanted to be like the other kids and purchase a school lunch! That broke my heart– she said she wanted to be like the other kids.
She cried so hard. She then cried about why she has to be gluten free and how did I give her this disease. She wanted to know how I got that disease if my own mother does not have it. I told her that it’s just the way life is. I decided to take a break from packing the lunch and just hold her and listen to her frustrations. She begged me to home school her so that she didn’t have to worry about packing lunches or being at school with all the kids having gluten around her.
I told her that I truly understand. I told her that eating with my peers is hard for me as well. It’s hard for me to go to lunch and dinner meetings with my colleagues. I either bring a lunch from home to the restaurant or I simply don’t eat anything with them. I told her that it is frustrating and I wish it was easier for us. I empathize with her.
She’s only 7 years old and she already has the passion to make a different to those with Celiac Disease. She wants to be a doctor and make a medicine that treats people with Celiac Disease so that they can eat gluten. She may only be 7, but she’s such a hard worker and so passionate, I totally see her pursuing this career. As she laid with me, she told me she wished she was grown up so she can make this medicine. Don’t grow up too quickly!!!!
This is just one of many challenges in raising a child with Celiac Disease. As adults, we can adapt and not care too much about what other people think and say. We can make modifications to meet our gluten-free lifestyle. For children, it has to be harder. Peer influence has such an effect. It’s hard to not be able to control for your environment, but she is learning these life lessons early. I imagine she will be a stronger person as she gets older.