I have a new buddy. He's 11 years old.
We have loads in common - we both like dinosaurs, books, and birthdays.
And we both have celiac.
I met him when I was doing a school visit to promote our summer reading program, and he asked if any of our treats were going to be gluten-free. We fist pounded, and he promised to make me gluten-free lasagna, and thus a friendship was born. I got to meet his mom and dad a few weeks ago, and they were incredibly helpful in telling me local joints to grab a bite from, GF products that taste like shoes, and how to use GF Bisquick & Glutino cookies to make a deep-fried Oreo knock-off.
I know I am not supposed to have favorite kids (spoiler alert: anyone who works with kids and tells you they don't have favorites IS A BIG FAT LIAR), but alas.
The reason I mention this is that this past week, my new pal had a birthday. He stopped by the library to say "hi," showed me his new Pokemon toy, and basically just entertained the crap out of me for a good 20 minutes.
And when he left, I went into the bathroom and cried.
I don't know if I cried for this child who will not have a fancy Funfetti cake for his birthday, or if I cried because I won't get to have a fancy Funfetti cake on mine. I couldn't tell you if those tears came from my heart breaking for this little boy who seems so much more normal and brave than I ever feel, or if I was crying for my potential children, who have a good chance of ending up in the same boat. Having this disease is awful as an adult. It's alienating, and painful, and lonely, and people get sick of hearing you talk about gluten-free this or celiac-that, and I cannot fathom doing this as a child. But instead of being mopey or pitiful, my new buddy is just like any other kid I come in contact with - bubbly, funny, adorable. He just has to eat gluten-free and sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around.
I learned a pretty big lesson about pity parties this week. Turns out, birthday parties are way more fun.