Bakeries quickly become (not to sound too Brady Bunch, here) "taboo" when you find out that your child has nut allergies. Too much risk of cross-contamination. Ditto for ice cream parlors, but that's a whole 'nother blog entry.
Whether you harbor an inner Martha Stewart or not, the minute you become the "Baking Mom" you discover that you better know how to wield a pastry bag with some skill and aplomb if you don't want to embarrass your child at their birthday party (or at someone else's party. You're sending their own treats, there, too.) Hey, if the supermarket bakery can do it, so can I.
It's not always easy to find the supplies you need to basically open a small-sized bakery right in your home kitchen. Wilton has some excellent cake pans (including one for a Barbie cake--crucial for girls, I've found) as well as lots of cake decorating supplies like pastry bags and tips, how-to books and videos. (Important note: Wilton's new ingredients labels on decorating sugars and some frostings give allergy warnings for peanuts and tree nuts, though, so skip those. I'm still looking for across-the-board safe sugars and decorating stuff, so stay tuned.
When you are the parent of a food-allergic child, so many things feel out of your control. You know there will be times that your child has to miss out on certain things. However, when you put on your figurative chef's hat and become the "Baking Mom" or "Dad" you know you are providing your child with a treat that they can safely eat, along with the rest of the class. For that one moment or maybe that whole day, they don't have to feel different. That fact alone is worth a whole lot of little pink pastry bag "shell border" decorations that dye your fingers pink for about three days.
Basically, giving your child the fruits of your baking labors is like offering them your love on a plate. Not a bad day's work.
My days as the official class "Baking Mom" might be numbered. My younger daughter's pre-school, for example, does not allow home-baked goods due to the wide variety of food allergies (eggs, milk, peanut) represented. It may be a matter of time until the elementary schools have the same policy.
Whatever happens, I know that I gave my sweet kid some sweets that had the best and definitely safest ingredient of all: a mom's love.