Look Out for Laundry Detergent


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 1:36 PM

Even though ‘gluten-free’ pretty-much consumes my life, I’m still prone to the occasional brain fart resulting in me rubbing my forehead saying, “What the hell is wrong with my children?”

This just happened to me recently. You’d think I would know by now that the answer is always gluten, but when I can’t figure out the source of the gluten, it inevitably causes my to ponder whether or not there’s something else going on with my kids. It can’t always be a gluten-related issue. It turns out, it nearly always is.

A few weeks ago, my son started acting out again. He had a hair-trigger temper, just like he used to have. He would flip out for no reason. He was violent. He was impossible to deal with. He was defiant about everything.

One particular day, I had to make a delivery to a coffee house in San Leandro. It’s about 20 minutes away. My son did not want to go. I forced him. I had to. I pinned him into his seat and strapped him in while his older and little sisters quietly looked on. We pulled out of the driveway, and from then until we arrived, he screamed as loud as he could (which is very loud), and continuously kicked the back of my oldest daughter’s seat. When we arrived, we had to park about a half a block away from the coffee house, on the corner. With boxes of strawberry cupcakes piled high in my arms, and with a 2-year-old and a 9-year-old at my side, I pleaded with my 7-year-old to get out of the car. He refused. I threatened him. He still refused. I pulled him out by his arm. He sat in a ball on the sidewalk, refusing to move.

I looked up the street to where the coffee house stood and back to the minivan filled with gluten-free goodies to be delivered. My 2 and 9-year-olds began the walk to our destination. My son sat. Not knowing what to do, I walked toward the coffee house, telling my son to get up and walk. He crawled. Like a snail, he crawled. He crawled all the way while everyone in the glass restaurant on the corner watched him crawl past them to our destination. I wanted to pretend like he wasn’t mine. The problem: my van with my logo “Gluten-Free, Mother of Three” was in plain sight.for everyone to see. Look everyone! Look how I’ve “fixed” my children!

It turned out, one of the issues was that he was sneaking gluten. I would go into the kitchen in the middle of the night, because one of our cats woke me up to watch them eat (stupid cats), and I would find my son perched atop the refrigerator stuffing whatever gluten-infused breads or goodies he could get a hold of into his mouth. I couldn’t understand why he all of a sudden needed gluten so badly. (I’ve talked about this before. Gluten acts as a drug in his brain. As soon as he has a little, his brain craves more.) I just couldn’t figure out what started this gluten binge.

I then began to notice eczema appearing out of nowhere on my daughter. One day it was a moderate amount on the insides of her elbows. The next day it had spread down her arms to her hands and was on her cheeks. The next, her body was covered. It was the worst eczema breakout she’d ever had. She had one area on the inside of her leg that looked like a giant bruise. I knew these two were being exposed to gluten. I just couldn’t figure out where it was coming from (except for my son’s middle-of-the-night binges).

Duh, duhty-duh duh duh! Laundry. How could I be such a moron? I knew to watch out for laundry detergent, yet, in a stupid, brain-fart moment in Big Lots, I spotted ultra cheap laundry detergent and bought it: Ajax Free and Clear. I’d been using it for about a week when this all finally dawned on me. I called the company and they said that although their product does not specifically contain gluten, they can’t guarantee that their product isn’t exposed to gluten by way of cross-contamination.

I immediately told my kids they couldn’t wear any of their clothes until I re-washed them (with Purex Free and Clear, which is gluten-free). As I washed, I gave them ‘safe’ drawers that contained the clothes they could wear. They improved within a day. My son turned back into his sweet little self (for the most part), and my daughter’s eczema went away.

I wish I could make all of my brain farts go away.

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