Here are two situations where I can see the direct benefits of early allergy education:
In December we were given anonymous Christmas gifts from friends. We didn't know who our Secret Santas were. For one gift, the Santa left us cookies and a list of ingredients. The list made my husband and I smile. We felt sure the gifts were being left by close friends. We decided to let our son have one of the cookies. He asked us if we knew they were safe. We told him that we had a list of what was in the cookies. He asked if everything was safe. And, because we cannot lie, we told him everything was safe except that we did not know what brand the chocolate chips were. He then asked if he could just have one of "mom's cookies". He choose to eat one of my homemade cookies when his brothers were eating the "treat cookies". He choose the safe option.
We ended up thanking him later. We didn't make a big deal about it. We just told him that while we decided we were taking a small risk, he made the right choice. I felt stupid, like I didn't follow my own rules. I didn't. He did. Instead of beating myself up, I just decided to be grateful.
This week at school my son's class celebrated St. Patrick's day. They made Leprechan Traps and read stories about leprechans. On Friday, his teacher planned a special snack left from Leprechans. Normally, she leaves the snack boxes in the teacher's work room for me to okay. In fact, I write "OK" on each packaged item. My son is used to seeing the "OK" on every snack that comes into his classroom. For Friday's snack, I okayed the items and then she put them together as if they were left from the Leprechans. I received a call from the teacher that day. She was calling to ask if the Leprechans had called me to check and see if the food was safe. Little did I know, the whole class (including my son) was listening as she called. My son was very concerned about eating something that did not have a label. He asked several times if it was safe and then his teacher offered to call me. (Later I found out that the kids were concerned that the Leprechans would play a trick on us because they are so tricky. My son's teacher explained that Leprechans would never play a trick when it came to food allergies.)
I was blown away when I received the call from the teacher asking if I had a call from the Leprechans. I can't explain the emotion. I was proud of my son for taking it so serious. I was touched that the teacher called me like that (to validate his concern and not dismiss it in any way). Later my son asked me how I knew the food was safe. I told him the Leprechans left the labels for me to check. That made sense to him. He's still trying to figure out if the Leprechans that visited the class were real but he believes Leprechans are allergy conscious.