Yesterday we went to a church play. It was an incredible program and both of our older boys had small parts. After the play there was an announcement to head downstairs for the art show and for refreshments. My heart sank, “why didn’t I ask if there were going to be food?” I had checked the bulletin in the morning but I had not asked anyone about it. The kids had been dismissed and had headed down immediately.
Seth took off downstairs. He had Thomas with him and found Jonathan right away. Then, he looks around to see people bringing out trays of cookies and offering them to the kids and guests. To him, it felt as if someone was handing out camouflaged poison. Where was David???
Since David is 4 ½ cookies and sweets are very tempting to him. We’d like to think he wouldn’t take something like that without asking us but we know that when it comes down to it, we can’t count on it yet. More than likely he would ask the person handing out the food if there were nuts in the food. That doesn’t work. The cookie might be touching a peanut butter cookie or it might be made with a product that is not nut safe.
Seth found David and took him outside. He explained to him that the food wasn’t safe for him. He explained that not any of it was safe—that there was no way to know. He talked to David a bit and calmed him down. Then, he started to give him the candy bracelet that was in his treat bag given to him for being in the show. He read the candy label and it was not safe (had a peanut warning on it). David was upset again. Seth then promised him that we would go to McDonalds playland for a treat.
Meanwhile, I am inside, with my 6 month old and my 3 year old, trying to keep the 3 year old from grabbing lots of cookies. People are trying to help me by giving him animal crackers. All the while, my 7 year old wants to show me his art work.
This was a stressful situation. We had to get out of there as soon as possible. We left absolutely stressed out. We realized that no one did anything wrong. But we left feeling frustrated and a bit angry.
Oh, dealing with this allergy so difficult! I believe in a lot of ways, it will get easier as he gets older. And, we are still learning. I have so much to learn. I should have asked if there was going to be food. I should have asked instead of thinking it would have been publicized. Then, I could have prepared. I could have brought David some kind of special treat. I could have talked to him ahead of time and told him he could not have any of the food there. I could have prepared my other kids appropriately. I don’t expect that events change because of our struggle. I don’t. I also don’t want to avoid public events because of the allergy. I just have to find that middle ground. I realize that just telling the people about the peanut allergy is not enough. I need to be more proactive. I need to make it a point to find out when there is going to be food served—-and especially served to the kids. I realize that I cannot talk about the peanut allergy to people enough.
The following words were shared with me last night. They make sense to me and I hope that thoughtfulness will happen more and more as I am more proactive.
“Having a child with a severe food allergy is like having a child with a disability. As parents, you are responsible but you hope that others will make concessions for your child.”