Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Okay at the Panera cafe

with 8 comments

On Wednesday Spectrummy Daddy came home from work an hour early so he’d have time to pack before going away.  We’d been to Pudding’s occupational therapy session, so we picked him up from the metro station on our way back.  I hadn’t made anything for dinner, so we made a spur of the moment plan to go out for dinner.  Does that last sentence fill you with dread?  Many kids don’t do well with spur of the moment decisions, but as long as it is something she wants to do, Pudding is very amenable.

Yes, she wanted to go out for dinner.  I gave her the option of the two closest places: Panera* or a diner.  She opted for Panera, or as she calls it- Panera cafe. I think it reminds her of when we were living in Europe and enjoying the cafe-culture.  When we first moved back to the US, we would go to Panera about once a week.  Her former OT, Miss M., worked at a pediatric practice housed in the same building, so we’d always have lunch together there afterwards.  She would always get a sandwich with yoghurt, before we knew that Pudding was allergic to wheat and dairy.  As you can imagine, a bakery is not the best option for someone with a gluten intolerance, so we stopped going.  She kept asking to go there, so I emailed them and they replied that the black bean soup was safe for her.  With some explanation that we  could only eat there if she ate that soup and an apple (plus gluten-free bread from home), we have been able to return a couple of times.

We find a table and get settled in.  Spectrummy Daddy and Pudding went to place the order, but he quickly returned with a grim look on his face.  No black bean soup today.  By his delivery and my sharp intake of breath you’d have been forgiven for thinking he’d made a much more grave discovery.  Our girl who likes those spur of the moment decisions when she gets something she wants, really does not like them when something she wants is taken from her.  She also has no qualms about letting the public in on her feelings.  I braced myself to tell her the news.

Me- Honey, they don’t have your soup here today.  We need to leave to go to the diner.

Pudding- Don’t want to go to the diner.  Want to stay at Panera cafe.

Me- I know, but they don’t have soup for you to eat.

Pudding- Want to eat a sandwich.

Me- You can’t eat a sandwich here, Mummy didn’t bring the bread you can eat.  Let’s go to the diner, and you can eat there and have…(I racked my brains for some kind of treat)….a juice.  Is that okay?

I know, juice.  Not exactly inspired.  Offering something she could just as easily have there is not the greatest of incentives.  But I was out of ideas.  My bag was empty of treats to bribe her, and I couldn’t think of anything else on their menu she’d want that she wasn’t allergic to.  So you can imagine my surprise when she replied:

That okay.

And just like that, we left.  With no meltdown, no fuss, no drama, no whining.  We’re making steps here, this wouldn’t have happened six months ago.  We ate at the diner and hugged Daddy before he left, eventually went to sleep, and slept through the night.  How was that?  That okay.

Two day’s later Cubby and I were at the old Panera grabbing a hot chocolate with a friend, when I ran into Miss M., who I hadn’t seen since January.  She remarked on the difference that time period has made with Cubby, then asked me how Pudding was doing.  I started to reply that she was okay, and then I caught myself.  Miss M. wasn’t just asking out of politeness, she really wanted to know.  I thought about it, and realized she is much more than okay.  She is making some amazing progress lately.  It is a joy to see.

Much, much more than okay at the Panera cafe.

*For those outside of the US, Panera is a “bakery-cafe”.  If anyone from there is reading this, one or two gluten and dairy-free items would make Pudding a very happy girl!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 11, 2010 at 7:44 am

8 Responses

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  1. Way to go Pudding! Woohoo!!!


    October 11, 2010 at 7:47 am

  2. Awesome! Way to go!!!


    October 11, 2010 at 8:23 am

  3. That is so awesome! Every once in a while we get surprised like that too, and it just fills me with hope for the future!


    October 11, 2010 at 8:45 am

  4. nice! You have all come very far. That’s terrific.
    Panera is one of two places we can all eat. My husband can have the black bean soup also and a modified version of the veggie sandwich. My son (who can’t have any corn) can eat the turkey sandwich on sourdough bread only. All the others make him sick. Gluten free additions would be great there!


    October 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    • Wow, only two places, that is tough, I thought we had it bad, but the kids are both okay on corn. I did email them about more GF options (she really loves the place) but they rightly pointed out that it is a bakery, and it is always going to have flour floating about, so could never be considered gluten-free even if they don’t add wheat to products. Fair point, but not fun. At least the black bean soup is good.


      October 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  5. I had never seen your blog before your round up submission. Your postings are wonderful. We deal with wheat and dairy issues and so we get how hard it is just to go out to eat. I look forward to reading more.


    October 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    • Weird how the wheat and dairy seem to go together, isn’t it? Are you struggling with that while overseas? I’m slightly worried about not having the same access to gluten-free stuff.


      October 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

  6. […] to work out what she needs even when her system is threatened, the capacity to make friends, flexibility in the face of disappointment.  So much more than I’d have hoped for the last time.  I just […]

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