Monday, September 24, 2007

Spawntawnumous and Proud of It!

I’m spawntawnumous!

Now, before someone runs for the antibiotics, that’s a good thing. Honest.

Friday afternoon, I was keeping Kim’s kids while she and her husband took care of some appointments. It was supposed to be just for the afternoon. One of her kids asked me if they were staying for dinner, and I told her no, her mom and dad would be back before then. I handed her some Oreos for a snack.

The appointments ran long, and Kim called and asked if I could keep them a bit longer. No problem. My son and these kids consider each other siblings. They could happily move in with each other and not blink an eye. In fact, they frequently request that.

My boy is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but that’s all. He lives on all the normal kid food – macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, hot dogs, pasta, cheese, pizza. You know. The stuff we don’t like to think about too much as we feed it to our kids.

His best friend, the oldest of the kids we were watching, has more food allergies – nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, fresh tomatoes, etc. So I have to pay more attention to what I can feed him and how I fix it. Usually, I know ahead of time when I’m going to have him for dinner, so I can plan to have safe food on hand. But since I hadn’t been planning on this evening (and hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while), I crossed my fingers and rummaged through the freezer.

Success! I found a bag of milk-free and egg-free chicken nuggets, with enough for four hungry creatures who’d been racing around the yard all day. I rummaged through the fridge. Aha! A bag of carrots, and a can of crescent rolls – the milk-free kind. I rummaged in the pantry. Yippee! A can of mandarin oranges! I rummaged in the freezer again. Yes! Frozen fruit popsicles! Okay, so maybe I don’t get points for health and nutrition, but at least it technically qualifies as food from all the major food groups.

I called Kim and her husband to tell them I was fixing dinner for the kids, and that they should go out to dinner and enjoy a little peace and quiet.

Then I threw the chicken and crescent rolls in the oven. The smallest child, who had asked me about dinner earlier, came inside just as I was closing the oven door. She looked up at me with hope in her five-year-old eyes. “Are we having dinner here?” she asked again.

“Yes, sweetie. You sure are.”

Delight lit up her face. Then she squealed, “You’re being spawntawnumous, aren’t you?!”

Spawntawnu-what? I thought. Spawntawn… Spawn…


Over the years, as Kim and I have found safe foods that her son can eat, I’ve slowly changed my own shopping habits. Whenever there’s a milk-free and egg-free version of a food, I now try to buy it. My family doesn’t need it to be milk- and egg-free. But since I never know when I might have these kids in my house, I’ve learned that it’s easier to have the safe foods than wish I did. (I’m a slow learner, but I eventually get it.) It also eliminates accidents and mistakes.

So now I only buy milk-free margarine. (It bakes better than the milk version, anyway.) I only buy milk- and egg-free white bread. I keep the pantry and freezer stocked with milk- and egg-free fruit snacks, popsicles, cookies, salsa, chips, tortillas, hot dogs, smoked sausages, barbeque sauce, crescent rolls, toaster pastries, and crackers.

So all that extra ingredients-label reading over the years has finally paid off. By modifying my shopping habits and stocking my kitchen with “safe” snacks and foods, I have officially become…


And boy, if you could have seen the look on that little princess’s face, you’d know how proud that makes me.

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