Before your own kid is diagnosed with a life threatening food allergy there are a lot of things you don’t really pay attention to. I know because before my 15 month old son Baxter had a reaction to peanut butter a few days after he turned one I didn’t pay attention or think twice about food allergies. When I went to the bounce houses and the sign said “please no food or drink” inside the gated baby areas I thought that was to prevent someone from choking on a raisin. Now I know that the sign is not only there for that, but to also put a few mother’s like myself minds at ease that their child is not going to find a peanut butter Cheerio in a corner and pop it in their mouth. Thereby turning a fun morning into a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance.
In the past when I hosted parties, and you know how I like to host parties, I never even thought to ask if any of the guests had food allergies. For Baxter’s 1st birthday there was a giant bowl of nuts sitting right in the center of the table for everyone to enjoy. I understand when throwing a party you can’t suit everyone’s needs but I will never have a bowl of nuts lying around again. I always make sure to have vegetarian snacks for my guests that I am careful of cross contamination with, I will now do the same with food and guests that have food allergies.
I know you think it is a pain that your daycare is peanut free. Maybe you are out doing your grocery shopping and the store does not carry sunbutter so you think no big deal I’ll just make peanut butter and jelly until I get around to picking some up. Kids share food and they get it all over their hands and smear it all over shared toys. For young children that still mouth toys that can mean big trouble in little China. At home go peanut butter crazy, but if your school is peanut free I promise there is some mother somewhere sweating bullets that the pre-school teacher remembers how to use the Epi-pen. Last but not least don’t assume parents of kids with food allergies are paranoid crazies with Munchausen by proxy tendencies. How do you think you would feel or act if the most common food fed to small children was like poison to your baby. You’d be a nut too, no pun intended. I’m sure there are a few crazies out there that are over reacting, there is with every illness. However, I’ve been to a specialist, we’ve had the blood work done, they don’t give 12 month old babies prescriptions for Epi-Pins because it’s funny. These are just a few things I never thought twice about until I found out my own kiddlet had a food allergy. For those that don’t know this is food allergy awareness week. 12 million people have food allergies, the incidence has doubled over the past 10 years. You can learn more from FAAN (The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network). Sometimes life is cruel. I am already the most neurotic mother I know. I’m the mom that freaks out about hand washing and helmets. All I need is one more thing to lay in bed nights worrying about. I have to carry an auto injector of ephedrine with me wherever we go. I have to insist that no one brings snacks to my house when I host play dates. When I go to the Jumpy Gym, library story time or children’s museum I have to be extra careful about making sure Baxter does not put anything in his mouth. But, this is not about me. This is about my little man. Baxter has a 50% chance of outgrowing his allergy, but there is also the chance that it will get worse. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, saying my prayers and in the meantime buying stock in Sunbutter. I’m also not letting this turn Baxter into a shut in. I plan on having him live his awesome little peanut-less life to the fullest. I’m just extra careful. Maybe it is a blessing for Baxter that his mother is already so paranoid.
Do you know anyone with a food allergy? I’d love to hear if you are oblivious like I was or abundantly aware because someone in your family is effected.