How Do You Foster Kind Behavior in Your Family?
I’ve been collecting pictures of birthday cakes ever since my 9-year-old son, Joseph, was a baby. These pictures and recipes don't cater to my food-allergic son's diet free of peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard but that doesn’t matter. I consult the photos for ideas. If one of my children wants a certain type of cake, whether a Harry Potter golden snitch or a princess doll, the photos help me figure out a way to make it.
I’ve been eyeing photos of a princess doll cake for a long time. I wanted to create it for my daughter Pamela for her 4th birthday.
Pamela doesn’t have food allergies like her brother, but she eats the same diet as he does at home. Because of the risk of cross contamination, I don't feel confident that his environment would continue to be safe if she is eating unsafe foods in the house. I do take her out on little dates for pizza or macaroni and cheese, and she washes her hands and mouth as soon as we walk in the door. She enjoys our lunch dates, but she never begrudges her brother because she isn’t able to eat the same food at home nor does she whine about not getting a treat when she is out with Joseph.
I'm proud of her for caring more about her brother than food choices. Perhaps it's just because the rules about food have been in place in our home as long as she's been alive. I’ve certainly improved my allergy-free cooking skills during the past 9 years, so no one feels unduly deprived. But I still give Pamela a lot of credit for accepting without complaint that she eats gluten-free, dairy-free pizza at home. She would never ask for a cake she sees in the bakery to bring home for her birthday. She wants her big brother to be able to enjoy her birthday cake as much as she does.
Which is why I wanted to prepare this special princess doll cake for her 4th birthday. Truly, she has been a real princess about Joseph’s allergies and she deserves a big thank-you and some royal treatment, especially on her birthday.
So I went to work to assemble a Princess Aurora cake, placing an Aurora doll in the hollowed-out cake (no gluten, milk or eggs!) and then surrounding it with cake layers and concocting a poofy “dress” out of pink frosting. (For recipes for allergy-friendly cakes and frostings, go to LivingWithout.com.)
Both kids had a blast with their friends at Pamela’s birthday party. They played games, made crafts and enjoyed dinner, digging into the princess cake for dessert. The snacks, dinner and dessert were all free of the foods to which Joseph is allergic so he could relax and not have to think about his food allergies.
Are your children thoughtful about accommodating a food-allergic or celiac sibling? How do you foster kind behavior and a tolerant attitude in your family?