A month ago, my daughter lied to me. Not a huge lie. I had asked her if her homework was done before she had iPad time, and she said she didn’t have any because she had taken a math test in school. “How did it go?” Shrug. “I don’t know.” She always knows, but not important, so I let it slide. “Reading done?”
With my blessing, iPad time commenced.
After dinner, I went to sign her homework sheet. My job is to initial the box next to the box where she lists the books she read. “What did you read today?” Thursday was blank. Then I remembered, “Oh, you didn’t need to. Math test.”
“No, that’s why I don’t have math homework.”
“Oh, so when did you read?”
“No, you woke up late.”
“At school.” This one was directly to my face, defiant.
“That counts?” I was trying to remember if this teacher had allowed them to use class reading as homework reading. Maybe? Maybe it a was a really gnarly 2nd grade math test?
Aaaaaaannnd Cue the tears. For **2 hours**, the ocean level rise could be traced to hysterics at the Layton house. Screaming, angry. Suddenly, the whole day was bad, everyone is mean, she has no friends. I calmly worked to restore perspective. “The day was fine. We talked about it after school. No troubles.”
We tried deep breathing and our shake it off routine. She exhaled violently and forcefully hyperventilated.
By the time she was asleep in bed, I was shaken to the core.
This was not my kid.
Oh, she’s sensitive. She was a pretty cranky infant. In my endless search for ways to quell the beast, I kept her on an organic, low allergen, nutrient rich diet. We noticed that her diaper deposits would dry up or become a weird soup when we cut corners on her food. But most dramatically, she would loose her sh*t when we gave her gluten. She was intense, as kids are, through age 3, but she would have the usual bell-curve meltdowns, shown here:
If she was eating gluten, she would hit a peak and never look back. She would hyperventilate, screech, hit me, and it would not take a break. A 20 minute melt down would easily last an hour, sometimes half a day. She would be dark, brooding, negative. She would have nightmares. It looked more like this:
Kids just do that, right? Well….
I have Celiac Disease, so I kept a careful eye on her when we introduced gluten. It was not consistent that her stools would change, so it seemed all was well. It was in desperation to catch our breath that we tried taking gluten out of her diet. She still cried, but her baseline dropped about a billion decibels. My fast food eating, small town husband was very skeptical, but over the years, he began to ask with suspicion- what did she eat? when the fireworks couldn’t be contained.
It’s been a month since the Lie. We took gluten back out the next morning. No changes to sugar, dairy, corn, screen time, etc etc etc. Within a few days, she came back to her lovely, balanced self. She has opportunistic minor injuries and gets frustrated with her brother from time to time, but the bell curve is back to normal. No lying, no screaming, no brooding.
Is it just a better month? In isolation, I would say it’s possible, but over 8.5 years, I can say that she still just can’t tolerate gluten and it is absolutely corrosive to her brain when she has it. She agrees. She says, “Everything just feels really hard.”
I can’t make a strong argument that my daughter has Celiac. We did have her blood tested when she was about 3 years old and it was negative. She does not have consistent stomach symptoms. I could decide to wait for clinical trials, or cave to the judgmental looks I get when I tell new people she can’t tolerate gluten. Peer pressure doesn’t end in high school, does it?
My heart goes out to parents who come in wanting proof that their child can or can not eat xyz. A piece of paper that tells the in-laws what they can or cannot feed the child. When did data trump a mother’s judgement? Making food a battleground just makes it harder to digest. If your child thrives on gummy bears, then gummy bears she shall eat. My kid thrives without gluten.