author of Feeding Eden

Silent Aspirations

Sometimes I get dragged by the NON-Life Threatening realities of Life Threatening food allergies.

For example, now that Eden is Kindergarten, it feels like there is a birthday party almost every day. Like when the teachers run low on markers and glue, they announce, "It's Claire's three-quarters until she's seven day!" And on party days, when it's time for singing and candles, while all the children squirm and clamor and lick at their frosting with dancing, glassy eyes, Eden has his "substitute treat" and sometimes he doesn't and sometimes he does mind too much that he's different.

This past weekend we went to an event called A Worry Free Lunch. The concept for me: A few food allergic families get together for a pre-arranged restaurant meal, eat delicious food, including french fries and dessert (two items we never eat in restaurants) and listen to jazz. But -- eating different food and knowing Eden must eat different food are separate burdens.

Due to his allergies, Eden vomited a lot when he was younger. Once, his feeding therapist told me most of her baby clients had silent aspirations meaning when they swallowed, liquid went into their trachea or lungs instead of going to their intestines. You can’t see silent aspirations and babies can’t tell you about it. Maybe the baby would get a twisted look on her face, her eyes wrinkle or her mouth puckers and someone looking on might have said, “Look at her face! So cute. Right?”

Our lunch at Blue Smoke evoked one of my untold (until now) fantasies. When I dream, I dream BIG. I dream about CURES and OUTGROWTH and EDEN EATING EVERYTHING. My Silent Aspirations:

We sit at a low table, legs crossed beneath, on soft pillows. Eden and everyone else I love is there. On the table there are puff pastries - phyllo wrapped spinach and feta, cheddar cheese dotted with chive, lump crabmeat in shallot cream; fried wonton dumplings stuffed with juicy pork shards and small bowls of shiny soy sauce; rounds of garlic toast, slivers of roast beef; chicken mole and avocado inside wedges of tortilla; thin pizzas flecked with oregano, buffalo mozzarella; fried chicken legs circling twice baked potatoes browned to soft peaks; fluffy spinach soufflés steaming from their middle; Caesar salads anointed with homemade garlic croutons; bowls of ropey pasta, yellow teardrop tomatoes, pesto and walnuts. And there are tubs of ice cream – mint chip, vanilla bean – a gravy bowl of hot butterscotch; painted ceramic crockery piled with fresh strawberries and blueberries, soaked in whipped cream; angel food cupcakes capped with bonnets of yellow frosting; lumpy peanut butter cookies, nubs of peanuts sticking out; chocolate éclairs; two pies – lemon meringue, droplets of caramelized sugar beading off the top, coconut cream with fresh shredded coconut jutting out from the graham cracker crust. We all laugh, pass plates. Eden reaches, chews. He is a prince. I move his plates closer, butter his dinner roll, our lips anointed with oils because he is a prince and I am a queen. We rule the table.