When I was little, I loved Taco Bell. It was one of my favorite places to eat. And then they left our area for a few years. I was bummed. When I was about 10 or so, they came back, and I was overjoyed. I loved it as much as I did as a little girl, and it's been a mainstay in my life ever since. In fact, when I was 17, I worked there. It just happened to be the one place that wanted to hire me, and I think they figured I was presentable enough to work the front register. I hated the job for the most part, and took a break from the food during the first few months after I stopped working there to go to college. However, there was a Taco Bell on campus so I couldn't stay away long!
It's always been one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and I was pleased when I took Jacob there and he liked it! It became our special place to go for just the two of us, and often if we were out running errands or heading to a sporting event, that was our go-to dinner. I could rely on him eating relatively well (albeit a bit messy), and we'd even share a caramel apple empanada as a treat. More recently he's fallen in love with the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos.
Unfortunately, Taco Bell's beef is not 100% beef (as made the news a while back) and it includes wheat as a filler. Which means that, even with corn taco shells, he can't eat there. While I know eating at home and at parties is going to be an issue, what breaks my heart the most is that eating out is going to be a challenge. It's a nice break for me and we have a lot of fun and good memories from going to certain places. In fact, it kills me even more that we'll soon be going gluten-free because so many of our favorite places are coming to our immediate area. For example, a Dairy Queen just opened nearby, and Moe's, Red Robin, and a local bake shop are all in the new wing at our mall. We finally got Cici's in our area last spring, too. And while we may be able to eek out a meal at some of those places, cross-contamination is always a risk anywhere we go. And how awful is it to tell a five-year-old that they can't have some of their favorite foods anymore?
As much as it breaks my heart that he can't eat there anymore, it makes me even sadder that he and I can't share that like we used to. Obviously right now we can't share much of anything without major issues, but assuming that he returns to his normal self once we get his problems sorted out (either through going gluten-free, behavioral therapy, or, God forbid, medicine), I assume he and I will once again be able to be in close proximity without constant battles and will need something to bond over. I know we can bond over something besides food, but that was an easy one. I just loved having something that was "ours".
Tonight we went to eat at Taco Bell, since there's a chance tonight might be the last chance he has to eat gluten. Tomorrow morning we'll head off to the hospital to get a small intestine biopsy that will confirm the suspected Celiac diagnosis. He'll have to be put under, and they'll check to see if the villi in his intestine are inflamed, which is the tell-tale sign of Celiac disease. We don't know how soon they'll know, or whether or not anymore tests will be needed, so there's a chance we'd be going gluten-free tomorrow. Part of me is hoping they won't know yet so we can sneak in a few more favorites (and use up more of what's in our pantry and freezer), but part of me just wants to get this show on the road and get ever closer to a possibly more tolerable child. As we sat there tonight and Jacob wolfed down two tacos without complaint, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. This silly fast food restaurant, one that many people refuse to go to because of what it does to their (generally healthy) bodies, has been a fun boding thing for us. He won't ever be able to eat there again (unless he learns to eat other things, and even that's a stretch with cross-contamination) and he probably won't remember years from now how much we loved going there together. It's just a bummer, especially when our ability to bond over anything has been reduced so greatly by his issues.
I'll certainly sneak there once in a while on my own, but it'll never be the same without Jacob. Who knew that Taco Bell had the potential to make me so sad?