Silent Aspirations

Posted 6.11.09 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a special guest blog entry from Susan Weissman. Her blog is and she is also a writer for the Huffington Post. Susan is currently working on a memoir about the challenges of parenting her allergic child. We would like to thank her for guest blogging for us.

Silent Aspirations

I must admit that sometimes I get dragged by the Non Life Threatening realities of Life Threatening food allergies. For example, now that my allergic son, Eden, is in Kindergarten, there seems to be a birthday party practically every day. I imagine that when the teachers run low on markers and glue, they announce, "Guess what children! 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 event was pre-arranged by a clever and compassionate food allergy counselor who lives in New York City and enjoys eating out herself. The concept: Food allergic families get together for a pre-arranged restaurant meal. They eat delicious food, including French fries and dessert (two items we never eat in restaurants) and the meal is virtually “worry free.”

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 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.

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.