This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. I spent more time online reading food allergies news and reading other food allergy blogs than normal. I learned, laughed and even teared up a bit. It was good for me. It was good for my peanut allergic son, too. One day I was watching an Epi-pen video and it caught his attention. He watched most of the video and we talked about it. We had numerous conversations about food allergies. We talked about things we don't talk about on a day-to-day basis.
This year, for the second year in a row, I interviewed my son about his peanut allergy. I also interviewed his older brother. This was a great exercise. I like knowing their answers but I also like the way it opened up conversation.
The interviews took place at different times and the boys didn't overhear each other's answers.
Allergy Interview with my peanut allergy son's older brother (he's 9):
Question: Is it hard to have a brother with a peanut allergy?
Answer: Kind of. The hardest part is not being able to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. No, no, no- not being able to eat Reeses candy bars.
Question: Do you ever worry about David?
Question: What do you worry?
Answer: That someone (at school) might switch a peanut butter sandwich for his sunbutter and jelly sandwich
This one really surprised me. I hadn't even thought of this and I thought it was interesting that it worried my older son.
Question: What do you do to keep David safe?
Answer: I don’t share with David unless it does not have peanuts … like when I get a snack during soccer.
Question: Do you ever wish David didn’t have a peanut allergy?
Answer: Ya, then he could sit with me at the round tables, where I always sit.
Interesting to me that he brought up the peanut-free table when we hadn't discussed it. We talked more about it. His brother is almost done with his lunch when he arrives. He just wishes he could sit at the round tables because that's where he likes to sit.
Question: What would you tell someone about food allergies?
Answer: You need to have the Epipen thingy with you. You need to know how to read labels.
Question: What’s the most important thing for someone to know about David?
Answer: He has food allergies. He’s allergic to peanuts. He can’t eat them or touch them.
Allergy Interview with my 6 year old son that has a peanut allergy:
Question: What are you allergic to?
Answer: Peanuts. I used to be allergic to fish and eggs, too.
For the record, he was also allergic to wheat.
Question:Do you like having a peanut allergy?
Answer: A little bit
Question: Why do like it a little bit?
Answer: Because I don’t think I would like peanuts, anyways.
Question: Is there anything else you like about having the allergy?
Answer: I like sitting at the peanut free table.
Question: Why do you like sitting there?
Answer: I, well, there’s one corner that I love to sit on. I like the corner because I like only having one person next to me.
Question: But, why do you like the peanut free table?
Answer: Um, I don’t know. I just do.
I talked him more about the peanut-free table. I'm not sure if he likes it because he feels safe there or if it is because he feels special. Either way, it's great that he likes it.
Question:Are there any good things about a peanut allergy?
Answer:I can’t think of anything.
Question: What would happen if you ate a peanut?
Answer: I would have to have my Epipen.
Question: What would happen to YOU?
Answer: I would start to stop breathing.
Question:What would we do if you ate a peanut?
Answer:Get my Epipen and hit it on me.
Question: Do you know how to use an Epi-pen?
Answer: I think so. Just by hitting it hard on me.
At this point, we talked about how to use the Epi-pen and how it works. This was probably one of the most important parts of the interview. He comprehends so much more as each year passes.
Question:What do Momma and Daddy do to keep you safe?
Answer:Make sure I don’t eat peanuts by checking the labels
Question: How do you keep yourself safe?
Answer:By not eating things that I don’t know aren’t safe.
Question:If someone offered you food, what would you do?
Answer: I would eat it if it was a tootsie roll. If it wasn't a tootsie roll, I'd say, "No, I don't want it." I just wouldn’t have it if I didn’t know it wasn’t safe.
I really hope Tootsie Rolls are always safe.
Question:What is the hardest part of a peanut allergy?
Answer:Not knowing if something has peanuts in it.
Question: What is the scariest part of a peanut allergy?
Answer:The scariest part is when you eat it.
Question: Do you remember when you ate the cake?
Answer:Ya, when I had the hives. I remember that I said my throat hurts.
Question: You had a bad dream last week about your allergy. Why did you have a bad dream?
Answer: Because I ate a peanut. I don’t really remember how it got in my mouth but no one could find my Epi-pen.
That was a rough night. He woke up extremely upset. I'm used to telling my kids that monsters are not real (that sort of thing). His nightmare was truly scary. It broke my heart. So, at 3 a.m., we prayed for his safety.
Question: Do kids every tease you about having a peanut allergy?
Answer:I don't think so. No.
Question: Do they ask you questions about it?
Answer: Well, I told people about my bracelet. Ya, I like it a little bit because it will help me survive. The people can read what it says and then they’d get the Epipen.
Question: How does your peanut allergy make you feel?
Answer: I don't know about that.
Question: Does it bother you to be different from other kids?
Answer: I don't know about that one. I'm not nervous about it.
Question:Are there any times at school besides when you are at the peanut free table when you feel different from the other kids?
Answer: I don't really feel different from other kids.
Question: If you could tell our whole town something about having a peanut allergy what would it be?
Answer: It is really hard to know if there aren't peanuts in something.
If you have a child with a food allergy, I highly recommend that you interview them. It is a fantastic way to see what they understand. It provides a perfect time to teach your child more about what they need to know.