Tuesday, January 21, 2014

But how do I know it's safe?

On Saturday, we took the family to Tahoe to go sledding. I went for a run first thing in the morning and my husband packed up what we would need for the trip. In retrospect, we should have packed the night before. It took us a while to get everything together and we got a later start than we planned. As a result, instead of bringing packed lunches, we decided to grab some lunch after we arrived in Tahoe City.

We pulled into a parking spot, with hungry kids raring to go sledding. My husband was hungry. I was hungry. We all jumped out of the car. Okay, getting out of the car was a medley of energy levels and emotions. I was standing outside of the car explaining what we needed to do before we could sled when I heard my husband say, "Grab that!" As I looked up across the car in his direction, I was vaguely aware that the automatic van door was closing. Sure enough, our keys were locked in the car. Safe inside our locked car were our gloves, my boots, my daughter's ponytail holder, my son's medical bag, my daughter's coat, chapstick and more.

My husband started the process of getting a locksmith (thank you, AAA) and I took the kids into the cafĂ© to see what we could get for lunch. Much of the menu was Mexican fanfare. There were also hotdogs, chili dogs and a few other items as choices. My husband darted in and out, obviously wanting to make sure that everything was in order. Then, he ordered food for the kids. My ten year old son who has a peanut allergy wanted a bowl of chili (he hates hotdogs).

"But how do I know it's safe?"

My husband talked to the lady at the counter. She said she thought it was fine but that she would call the kitchen. She called the kitchen. They determined it was safe for someone with a peanut allergy. She told my husband that there were no peanuts or peanut products in the chili. They do use peanuts in the kitchen but they are not near the chili.

My husband ordered my son the chili.

He then went back outside to wait for the locksmith to arrive to unlock the car. When the kids' food arrived, I picked it up at the counter and got the kids what they needed.

My son wasn't eating.

 "But how do I know it's safe?"

I wasn't a part of the conversation about the peanut products so I relayed that Daddy had checked about the chili being safe. He still wouldn't eat. When my husband came in for a few minutes, I asked him to talk to my son about the chili. He told him the whole story, including the part about them having peanuts for some desserts in the kitchen.

My son wanted to know how that was different than eating something that is made on the same equipment as peanuts.

Before my husband went back out to the car, he tried to assure my son that he felt comfortable letting him eat the chili.

My son didn't feel comfortable.

"But, Momma, how do I know it's safe?

So, I set the chili aside. I went to the counter. We ordered a bean and rice burrito, which was made to order, on the front grill, behind the counter. Again, I asked about peanuts. I asked about the beans being used in the burrito. Again, the lady called the kitchen.

My peanut allergic son had a bean and rice burrito for lunch. After a minute or two, he said, "This is really good."

My husband and I exchanged a look when he came back in the diner. It was a knowing look.

I couldn't tell my son the chili was safe. In truth, I never know if something we are getting when we are out to eat is safe for him to eat. After all, just the other day, I discovered that a can of beans that I had previously bought had a peanut warning on them.

But, while I can't say with certainty a food is safe. I can be extra careful. I can be vigilant. I have spent the last 8 years teaching him to take every precaution. If he feels unsure, if there is any doubt, if he isn't comfortable... he shouldn't eat the food.

"But, how do I know it's safe?"

I cannot tell him his food is safe. There are too many unknowns (like allergen labeling not being required on food labels). I will continue to teach him to take every precaution and to trust his instinct. As such, I am thankful I didn't force him to eat food that I bought when he was not comfortable. I am thankful for the experience. He continues to be vigilant. I continue to learn.

Oh ya, and that Epipen in locked in the car? We would have broken the window to get it if it was need. My husband and I discussed that before we ordered.


John and Carrie said...

your last line made me laugh. Because it is so true.
I'm so thankful both of our pa kids are extremely vigilant about what they eat.

Giovanni said...

I know the stress and frustration that goes along with a peanut allergy. It seems like the plant is in everything. And they just put the warning that it is in everything just in case it might be. I find that cooking at home is generally the best option for me and the safest way to ensure that I'm okay.

Giovanni @ Coastal Contract Hardware