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Growing Up

Growing Up

As much as parents of kids with food allergies would like it, it is impossible to anticipate every place where you will encounter unsafe treats. When Max was a toddler, the easiest way to manage this kind of encounter was simply to steer him in a different direction, to leave. That’s often the solution to any toddler issue though, isn’t it?

I’m afraid as Max has gotten older our approach to the unexpected food encounter hasn’t always matured with him. Whereas his hurt was pretty raw when he was left out of the cupcakes in preschool (see Heroic Effort), he handled the unexpected cookies and muffins at church at the start of Advent with a little more equilibrium. One of the kindhearted adults, upon seeing that they had nothing safe for him to eat, offered to go with him to get some ice to jazz up his drink. I tell you distraction may be an adult instinct. When I arrived he was sad, but a hug and a little misdirected anger at his sister (“She could have not eaten too”), and it was pretty much forgotten 10 minutes later. We were new to the church. I asked the adults in charge if they would let me know when they were planning food, and several of them who knew of his allergy said they hadn’t realized food would be served either. They asked for suggestions on what he could have, and I’m sure if they plan a similar surprise again they will have some options for him.

Then last night Jason and Max had a similar encounter at a Cub Scout meeting. The den leader brought in cupcakes to celebrate his child’s birthday. The den leader is a volunteer and gives a lot of his time to the kids. I think it’s probably his prerogative to bring treats for his child even though food is not usually a part of Cub Scout meetings. Jason’s first instinct when he saw the cupcakes was to want to leave. The account I got was the kids were oohing and awwing over the cupcakes. Jason pointed out to Max who was taking part in the ogling that they weren’t safe. Max replied he knew that. The meeting was mostly over, and leaving seemed to Jason like the best way of coping. Max was quick to point out when he got home that he would have liked to stay even if he couldn’t have eaten. One of his other friends with some complex medical issues of his own rarely eats anything at these types of events. Max said he knew he wouldn’t have been alone in not eating. He would have liked the social time. Then he asked if he couldn’t have a second dessert at home. I, of course, said OK.

In Jason and my defense, sometimes explaining and negotiating these encounters is draining. Earlier the same evening Jason had talked with a different Scout leader about a banquet they are planning this weekend. He was explaining pizza wouldn’t work for Max, and the accommodating adult wanted to figure out something that would. They settled on bringing in some spaghetti for him. By the time, the cupcakes came out, Jason wasn’t up for another long discussion on the topic. Leaving seemed easiest if maybe in hindsight not the best solution. Growing up is hard on mom and dad too. Sometimes we have to cut each other some slack, apologize and have a second dessert.

The Allergist Mom has a more eloquent post on a similar topic this month:


6 responses »

  1. This post makes me so sad! I keep thinking that it will just get easier when Suzannah gets older…but right now she has no idea that she is being denied things. I hate that it can be so hard to accommodate these little kiddos, but I honestly didnt understand allergies either until I became the mom to one with such serious allergies. I feel guilty all the time, too! Trust me…I enjoy a LOT of those extra desserts. lol Great post!

    • It does get easier Michelle, I promise! This was just a case of knowing the right way to handle the situation and maybe just not having the energy to follow through, and that happens with all aspects of parenting at least around here. At least it is clearer to me now what the right thing is. That used to not always be the case. The food allergy thing is not all bad either. People always say they eat healthier because of it, and that’s probably true here too. Also, Max was just telling me last night how sometimes dealing with regular kid peer pressure is easier for him because he knows having dealt with his food allergies that he can be different/left out and it’s OK. It’s probably not completely pair to compare, but I will say unlike my daughter with no food allergies he makes up his own mind about more stuff. He doesn’t just follow along to follow. He doesn’t let friends lead him into trouble much either. I do think he’s right that living with food allergies all this year has re-enforced that sort-of independent thinking trait that is a big part of who he is. I love that!

      • Not completely “fair” and “all these years”: I know the typos are bad when I sit there trying to puzzle out when I wrote two hours ago.

  2. Food is everywhere…it is on everyone’s brain…and if you have food allergies…you grow antenna’s to alert you of it’s presence! lol I know it is not easy living with food allergies but neither is any other life threatening medical condition. I am in the midst of writing about the limitations of food allergies on my blog so this is actually on my brain! Basically, I tell my kids we are not normal…but neither is any other family. We have our rules and they have their own depending on the type of family they have. I always carry treats in my purse or pocket for those unexpectant times that food crops up…the kids have always thought I am a bit magical that way! It makes it fun and special. The best treats they love to be surprised with are pure maple sugar candies…they know they are pricey and are never eaten on a whim…making them the perfect choice for when an allergy laden treat is being offered around. This is our ‘normal’!

    • I think you’re right Susan! I try to remind myself “it is what is” about all his medical conditions and not dwell on how things “might be” different, but I will admit Max is much better at this than I am. I like to think he is better at it in part because that’s the attitude we have tried to convey to him over the years though. The maple sugar candy is an awesome idea. I need to find something like that, although in both of these cases in this blog entry I wasn’t there at the time. I could probably put a package of something in the epipen bag though.

      • I used to leave safe candy with teachers to give to my boys if something came in that they could not eat. For the past few years, Matthew has told me not to bother. He is okay going without. Before he had his allergic reaction to a cake baked at a bakery, he would complain that he didn’t like the baked goods brought in from bakeries or what the other parents made. When I think back about it, he could have been sensing the beginings of his peanut/tree nut allergy. I believe he doesn’t feel that he is missing out on anything due to his experiences.

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