Navigating birthdays from “the bubble”

What’s on my plate this month?

if the these teens can do it, we can too!

When you look at the list below, you may be wondering why I’m detailing the dietary guidelines of my clients. But these are not my clients.

This is the list of attendees at my son, Gilbert’s, 14th birthday party this weekend.


  • one gluten-free (GF), dairy-free (DF), mostly refined sugar-free (SF), peanut-free
  • one GF, SF, salicylate-free (no peppers, almonds, berries. . . )
  • one GF, potato allergy
  • two pesca-vegetarian (one whom avoids kiwi)
  • one GF, DF, SF, egg-free (EF)
  • two anything goes
  • one GAPs, low FODMAP (ie. only meats, eggs, certain vegetables and select fruits)
  • and of course no GMOs, though whether or not to label GMOs was up for discussion around the breakfast table after talk of some other, perhaps more usual, teen boy conversations that I didn’t track or understand

Welcome to my bubble!

My son’s birthday celebration planning started with a fit of hysterics this year.

Yes, he’s a teenager and no the hysterics were not of the agitated sort. Instead the two of us laughed so hard we cried and our throats stung from our roaring. And all this hilarity was brought on by a mere Google search.

You know the kind. . .
Search as you might, positing all the words you think will be most useful, and the results come back amusingly inappropriate.

We were searching for good ideas for a teen boy birthday party.

When we happened upon a URL ~ after a good 40 minutes of searching and shaking our heads in disbelief ~ that showed a group of teen boys gathered around a cake in party hats (perhaps from the 1950’s), we completely lost it and gave up hope, having to walk away from the computer to save our breath. Sure, a simple trip to the movies is an obvious good choice for this age group, yet none of the movie selections were appealing, or, if they were, had already been seen by most of the small group of invitees. No movie and certainly no party hats! Sigh.

The solution came to me two days later, still in my own fit (this time of the panicky sort), of what to do with a gaggle of teens on a Saturday night. . . this Saturday night! We had sent the “Save the Date” email, but for what, I did know.

Lightbulb moment:
If we could not go to the big screen, the big screen could come to us. . .

(Note: I also live in a bubble where we, and many that we know, do not own a TV, and therefore don’t “get watchy”, as my nephew likes to call it, on anything larger than a computer screen.)

I rented an 8 ft x 8 ft movie screen and projector, behind which I now sit, set up shop in the living room, rearranging the furniture and sprinkling the floor with sitting pillows, and we secured 3 DVD seasons of Dr. Who for a full-on Dr. Who-A-Thon.

Whew.

Now on to the food!

Truth be told, I no longer fret about these things. Gilbert asked for take-in sushi from the sustainable sushi restaurant in town whose mission statement reads: “We are dedicated to bringing you the freshest fish, meats, and produce with the greatest consciousness to marine stewardship, sustainability, and the environment.”

Pricey, but easy.

I figured that with his newfound consumption of eggs, that the cupcake decision would be easy. Three types of cupcakes later, I realized I should have put a little more “fret” into the batter.

Gilbert asked for strawberry cupcakes. I made those and then realized J couldn’t eat them (no berries). So I made chocolate cupcakes too. Then Gilbert told me that M only eats duck eggs (and I had used chicken eggs). So I made vegan coconut cupcakes. And then I realized I had used agave for the cupcakes ~ a sweetener I never buy or use, but thought I would indulge in to lighten the flavor ~ and realized that C can’t eat any of the cupcakes (honey for sweetener only). I threw together some honey nut clusters (minus peanuts and almonds, of course), and, alas, there was dessert for all.

Yes. No. Maybe so.

The thing that’s most remarkable to me about my sweet bubble is not that there are kids that eat all these different ways for myriad reasons. Honestly, that’s just my reality.

What’s extraordinary is the composure and confidence that these kids have around how they eat. There’s no sneaking or rebellion against the parameters. Instead each of them has a clear sense of their ‘yes, no, maybe so’ framework ~ what I like to call “the path”, “the poison ivy” and “the bike lane”.

When one mom left saying: “Andrea is serving potatoes in the morning so work around that,” her son answered “mom, I know what I do and don’t eat”. A teenage “no, duh” in response to a statement that would not be met so clearly by most of us adults!

What’s on my plate this month is a deep appreciation for “the bubble”.
(“Vive le bubble” as one friend aptly said many years ago.)

I’m grateful to live in it most specifically because I have the opportunity to be reminded and humbled by the wisdom, insight, candor and determination of the teens around me, including my own (who was the first set of conditions on that list above).

Don’t get me wrong, there are eye rolls and immature battles launched, yet when I step back and think about it, they’re no different than the conversations I have with many adults, including myself, each and every day, in response to well-intentioned but unwelcome “restrictions”.

As you move more deeply into the holiday season step back and consider your ‘yes, no, maybe so’ framework, and more importantly, just who are you rebelling against?

Warmly,

AndreaSig



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