Monday, April 23, 2012

Junior High Ice Cream (-Free) Social

by Kelley Lindberg

Junior high has brought a whole new level of social events into my son’s school experience. There have been dances, after school events, soccer games, and the all-important “just hanging out.”

Last week, there was an ice cream social after school for the junior high students.

Ice cream. Oh joy.

There was a day when my son and his dairy-allergic friend would have been just fine skipping an ice cream social and going someplace else to play together. But those days are gone. Now the social aspect of events like this trump any food concerns (for the boys, not necessarily for their moms!). For previous after-school events this year, like dances, the other boy’s mom (Kim) and I have been able to suggest safe treats to serve, and the planning committee has been great at accommodating their allergic classmates and serving only safe treats for the entire event. But this time, we knew that to change ice cream to a safe alternative for 300 kids would be challenging and very expensive. So we got permission to bring a safe alternative just for our boys, and we chose to trust our boys to stay safe around all that dairy.

For the safe alternative, we ran to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. There, I talked to the woman running the store, and not only did she assure me that the dairy-free sorbet was always served from a dedicated dairy-free machine, but she told me she’s allergic to nuts herself, so she knows why I needed to be so careful. While I filled 2 cups with Orange Burst Sorbet (which had the texture and appearance of soft-serve ice cream – yum!), she got some toppings out of a new container, put them in a clean bowl, and handed me a clean spoon to dish them out. Perfect! I drove to the school, handed the treat to the boys, and heard lots of “Wow, Menchie’s! You’re so lucky!” from the other kids as I left.

I guess being allergic doesn’t have to be a drag all the time.

To be honest, our boys are old enough that they wouldn’t have minded skipping the “ice cream” completely, just as long as they could stay and socialize. I think it was more Kim’s and my worry that we wanted them to be able to participate fully in the event, and to us, that meant finding a safe substitute for the ice cream. One of these days we’ll probably be able to let go a little more, and realize that we don’t have to try quite so hard to make sure they “fit in” – they are fitting in just fine on their own, with or without snacks.

When did they get to be so grown up? Sigh. But for now, they still know their moms love them. I guess that’s good enough for me and Kim.

In a funny coincidence, the UFAN email forum is currently lighting up with suggestions for safe places to get frozen treats, now that it looks like summer really is on its way. So next week I will collect all the recommendations and post them here so they will all be in one place and easy to find and research. If you have your own recommendations you'd like for me to include, post a comment to let me know. See you next week!

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