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  • Writer's pictureSam Balenzano

Elementary School: Lunches

My elementary school started when I was 3 years old, because the preschool I went to was inside my elementary school. My PKU wasn't really affected during those times because my school days were so short.

When I got to kindergarten, I still didn't have to bring my formula to school or anything because my days were only half days, so my mum would just pack me a PKU friendly snack.

Once I got to Grade 1 however, that's when my mum had to send me to school with a lunch, my formula, and hope I wouldn't trade my low protein lunch with a tuna sandwich.

Like I've said in previous blogs, I was never tempted to trade my lunches or eat someone else's food, because I was always told by my parents and doctors that I could go off diet, so I knew it was serious and I knew high protein foods were "no foods". I was always just super well behaved so you're welcome mum.

The problem however, is that I was a super slow eater. My mum would get so mad at me because I would come home and some of my food still wouldn't be eaten. It's not that I didn't want it, or I consciously chose not to eat it, I was just so slow that by the time my friends wanted to go outside and play, I wouldn't be done yet, so I'd pack everything up and head outside. My mum told me if I left food behind again, that she would come and sit in the parking lot and I'd have to go eat my food with her in the car until I was completely done.

So there I sat, in a dark classroom, by myself, because the teacher wanted to go eat her lunch, so she locked me in the closet with the lights off, and I tried my best to finish my lunch. The bell rang for lunch to be over and I STILL wasn't done. So the next day my mum came, pulled me out of the classroom and made me eat in the car with her.

To her surprise, I WAS a slow eater, and I WASN'T lying! She said "Wow, you really are slow." And after that I was able to play outside with my friends even if I wasn't finished.

Although my slow eating doesn't have anything to do with my PKU, the fact that I needed to finish all my food did, because my mum wanted to make sure that I ate everything that she was calculating into my allotted protein for the day.

One of my fonder memories of having PKU in elementary school, was once a month we would have pizza day. And I'm not even joking, 1 or 2 months in advance, kids would bet each other for my pizza toppings, and they would schedule out who would get them when. I would get a cheese or cheese and pepperoni pizza and take the toppings off and one of my friends would take the toppings so I would just eat the bread and sauce (my favourite btw). That made having PKU fun and made me feel like what I had wasn't weird, but my friends were accepting of me and never made fun of me for having PKU which I was really blessed to have.

At this point, I didn't know anybody else that was local and had PKU, and I think that would have helped me feel a little less "different". But I was never upset or mad or embarrassed about my PKU. I've always loved how God has made me!

So if you have a child with PKU, don't worry about them cheating on their diet or being embarrassed about being different. Encourage them that they aren't like everyone else, but that's what makes them special!

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