One evening, we were driving back from vacation. It was late and everyone was starving.
It is not easy for our family to stop for something to eat. Our fourth child, Brighton, can’t eat at restaurants due to cross contamination.
He has food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). He was about 1.5 years old during this trip and had a handful of foods he could eat. We always bring his food with us, but with just having a few hours left in our trip, we were out of food for him.
We looked hard for a place to eat, trying to think of somewhere that would have an avocado or banana for our son. We stumbled across a Chipotle. Perfect.
We got all the kids out of the car and marched right in. After ordering everyone’s food, I asked if I could also buy an avocado.
Just one, whole avocado.
I explained that my child had severe allergies and he couldn’t eat anything there except for an avocado.
The cashier shook his head at me and said that he didn’t think he could do that.
“Please, I’ll pay $20 for just one avocado.”
I didn’t care what it cost, I just wanted my son to eat something. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about bringing all the other kids their food and having nothing for Brighton.
I could tell this young man wanted to help me.
So he got his manager.
“Please Sir, I will pay anything for one avocado. I would buy him some of your guacamole but he would get severely sick. An avocado is all he can eat.”
And… the manager said no. We then fed our other kids while my husband distracted Brighton and fed him a bottle of his special formula.
And it broke my heart.
Thankfully, this doesn’t happen everywhere.
There have been many restaurants that look at me strangely when I ask for one banana or one avocado. But they always figure out a way to ring it up and serve it to me.
Sometimes I explain the situation. Sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes they cut up his banana and bring it to him on a plate.
It seems so simple and silly, but this makes our son’s day.
He gets to eat like everyone else.
Then he looks up at them with his big dark eyes, messy hair, dimpled smile, and says thank you.
And he means it.
More than any other child.
The fact that you brought him a banana on a plate may seem meaningless to you.
You don’t know his story, but you made his day.
You don’t know that he eats the same few foods over and over.
You don’t know that there have been restaurants that have refused to sell us one banana or one avocado because it’s not an item on their menu, although they clearly have it in back.
But you did something.
You helped our son.
You made up a price. You figured out a way to ring it up.
And you served it with a smile. No questions asked.
And we thank you.
Because you just gave our little boy a real life experience to be “normal” at a restaurant.
You filled his belly with food, and you filled his heart with joy.
We hope more people and restaurants can learn from your service and kindness.