Saturday, March 20, 2010

Educate, educate, educate

My son that has a peanut allergy is 6. He is in Kindergarten. He's learning to read (and doing quite well, I might add). He cannot read a food label. He cannot look at a packaged food and know that it is safe or unsafe for him to eat. He has shown me time and time again, that he understands that his allergy is serious. I'll tell you about 2 scenarios. They are not the only times that his allergy awareness has paid off. They just represent how much he understands. My advice? Educate a child with a food allergy early. They can understand the seriousness without being scared. They can learn how to handle their allergy as they grow, almost in the same way that their other life skills (such as brushing their teeth or tying their shoes) sharpen.

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.

11 comments:

aerotatt said...

We are lucky to have such a wonderful teacher that would go through the effort.

Anonymous said...

I've got little leprechaun tears in my eyes. What a nice teacher and Yea!!! for David being so aware of being safe.
Sharon

Foursons said...

Love that leprachauns are allergy conscious. Too cute!

Your son is amazing. I am very impressed with him.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Too cute...Love your blog...Doing a little Sunday morning blog hopping...Its snowing here.
I have 2 GREAT GIVEAWAYS that I will draw for tonight ...
stop by and leave a comment...That's all that's needed.
Teresa
http://teresa-grammygirlfriend.blogspot.com/

He & Me + 3 said...

You have the smartest little guy around. He is so safe & that should make you feel more secure when leaving him places. What a responsible little guy you have.

McCrakensx4 said...

That is awesome! I am glad that the teacher called to ease his concern...I have had to do that a few times with students for various reasons.

Beth E. said...

You have done a great job educating your son...what a smart little guy! I know you are proud of him.

You are a great mom, and your son has been blessed with a wonderful teacher!

Nicole said...

He sounds like he is doing so great! You've done a great job teaching him. I remember getting those same calls. I'd feel so sad about my son having to worry about those things and yet so proud of him for being so responsible.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Your guy is very smart indeed! It's so good that he is so cautious. Mine, not so much. Sometimes he just takes the teachers word and the teacher doesn't always check with me.

Jenny said...

I am so proud of him! He is such a trooper. And the fact that you have gone through all of the effort to educate the teachers and staff, as well as your own family shows just how much you truly care about his safety!!!

SnoWhite {Finding Joy in My Kitchen} said...

That's an awesome success story for those with food allergies! Kudos to all involved.

I found your blog through a comment you left on Lynn's Kitchen Adventure about her granola bars!! I have an allergy to nuts/peanuts/sesame -- so, if you stop by ... all my recipes are free of these ingredients.