Today’s Toy Lunch

Last night while flipping through a friend’s copy of the American Girl catalog, I was surprised to find that in addition to its usual updates (omg who’s that? are those Uggs?? is that headgear???) the company is also now offering an accessory called the Allergy-Free Lunch. Which is a little vague but seems to cover peanut, egg, shellfish, and gluten allergies, although it’s not entirely clear what’s on the “sandwich skewers.” Chicken? Tofu?

The complete Allergy-Free Lunch comes with food — a “pretend berry smoothie, container of vegetables,” and the above-mentioned skewers (better pics here) — as well as “a medical bracelet and allergy stickers to keep her safe while she snacks; a faux allergy shot, just in case; and a fabric lunch bag to hold it all.” It costs $28 and currently has a five-star average rating on the American Girl site. I think I had intended to sort of make fun of this, but then the stories within the reviews, about kids with allergies “finally” having fake food to play with that isn’t the type that makes them sick in real life, are actually pretty nice — although I’d agree with user mommytokiddo, whose daughter bought it after saving her allowance, that “I don’t know if I would have spent that much on this set,” and with user 2daughters that the bag should have “a cute strap to go over her shoulder.”

But the Allergy-Free Lunch also reminds me of the time in first grade when a classmate with diabetes gave us all copies of this kid-friendly book about diabetes and food. One of the book’s main messages — the one she wanted to emphasize — was that we shouldn’t offer food as “up for grabs” at lunchtime, because she found it too tempting, and would then eat it and get sick. Unsurprisingly, this book had the opposite effect on how frequently foods were offered up for grabs at lunch, because kids are mean. And I still am, I guess, because I’m now imagining some little girl telling another that “my doll can’t eat gluten,” and I’m wishing that they’d also make miniature lunches of peanut-butter and shrimpy egg-salad sandwiches that come with one (1) extra peanut-butter and shrimpy egg-salad sandwich, because everyone should be able to have a miniature, inedible version of the lunch of their choice for under $30.

I think I’ve just tried to make fun of that girl with diabetes from elementary school again, which is … I’m not sure what it is, but in any case I was jealous of her because my best friend liked her more than she liked me, and she had a pretty singing voice and got the parts in the school plays that I wanted.

But also when my parents were divorcing, even though this girl and I were technically enemies, she brought a wooden box filled with hair ties and barrettes to school one day, and gave it to me without saying anything, because her parents were also divorced, and I think at the time she was the only other one in our class.