I'm reflecting on another year gone by living with food allergies. On April 22 it will be 2 years of anxiety, fears and firsts. We learned a lot this last year. We have amazing family, friends and teachers who really look out for our little man. Even some of the parents at his school go out of their way to include him. For most, his allergy has become 2nd nature to them. We have had no new incidents involving his allergies, and he has outgrown most of his nut allergies. I believe we will be doing a food challenge with cashews this year. Lucky doesn't even describe how I feel. To read our story how we found out about our son's peanut allergy check out this post from last year.
As he is now 3, he is starting to understand more. He reminds us when dropping him at school that we need to check the snack. He asks if he can have whatever it is. When we tell him no, it's never been a problem. Even when it's cupcakes that the teacher didn't know were coming to class. I'm so proud of him. He never complains about being left out, or eating something different. Sometimes he even asks us if we have his epi pen when leaving the house.
It's hard to tell a 3 year old about the severity of his peanut allergy without terrifying him. I want him to have a healthy fear, but not traumatize him. So far so good. I think we are on the right track. Here are some of the things we do to remind and teach him.
1. When we go to a party or play date, we talk about it in the car. I ask him questions like what if your friend wants to share his or her food? The answer, "say no thanks", and "ask mom or dad". We remind him don't take food from anyone but (we name the people who can give him food).
2. He doesn't were his medic alert bracelet all the time because it bothers him (it scratches him pretty badly no matter what I do to it). However he will wear it when we go to public evens and places, to a new play date or when their is a sub at school. As he gets older he will wear it more since we won't be with him as much. He knows it tells others about his allergies.
3. We have been teaching him what say say if he gets lost. He knows his full name, allergies, phone number, name of the town we live in, mom and dad's full names, our jobs and his grandparents name. If you ask him his name, he tells you than says, "I'm allergic to peanuts and nuts"! Pretty good for a 3 year old! It's my new parlor trick to show people:)
4. When we are shopping we make a effort to point out peanuts and tree nuts, the different products (especially candy), that they are in, and how they look different.
All this seems to be paying off and getting through to him and some of his little friends. Again, I am reminded that even thought the fear and anxiety we have has parents is stressful and exhausting, we are lucky that's it's not something worse. He is a happy, healthy, funny, smart, adorable little boy, who brings us so much joy. He may drive me crazy on a daily basis, but he also amazes me daily with his ability to learn and accept his small burden at such a young age.
We are two years into this, and it does get easier. Remember to be open minded when others are not, educated others but not preach, work with schools, parents and organizations to help advocate for your child as well as others. You will be surprised how many doors open, and events pop up just because you talked about it in a positive way.
FYI the NY Mets contacted me again about a peanut free suite for a weekend game in May. I'll get the info to you this week! It all started with a simple email! You can make a difference!