having trouble letting go

Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2007 - 6:53am
Jennifer66's picture
Joined: 08/20/2007 - 09:00

My DS is almost 12 and has had PA, DA, EA and asthma for nearly 11 yrs. Our comfort zone for him has always been pretty tight and he has always been great about that, no problems so far with rebellion or trying to break away from the rules. He has always been very up front about his allergies with his friends. He is homeschooled (not really because of PA, mostly for other reasons), so instead of sending him off each day and getting used to others looking after him, I have always gone along to classes and workshops, etc, since I have to drive him there. I hang back, of course, but am always the responsible adult on the premesis for him.

So this summer we are starting to have instances where he wants to go off on his own. Just little things like riding his bike around our village. He always takes his epipens and inhalers and benadryl in his waist pack, but even though he isnt eating anything on these little 15 minute excursions, and we have had him practice administering epi, I am still a nervous wreck, but feel like I have to start letting go, and that this must be a good way to break us all in gently. I panic that I am being reckless in letting him go off without anyone else around who knows about his allergies.

On top of all this, today he came home from a little ride (btw, he always rides the same "loop", following certain streets so I know his route - it really is a tiny village) and he wanted to go back to the park where a couple kids from the village were climbing a tree and wanted him to join him. I just said yes, thinking that I don't want to restrict him from making local friends. After DS had gone back out, my DH started saying how he was worried about DS being too forthcoming about his allergies with kids he doesn't know, and giving them possible ammunition for bullying. DS was chased with a Snickers bar when he was 7 by some kids in our old neighborhood, and one of his friends is PA and was severely bullied and threatened with peanuts, so I guess that was what was on DH's mind.

I am so at a loss as to what to do! I so very much want DS to lead an independent life and take responsibility for himself, but worry that he may not be able to read another child's intentions when they start questioning why he carries that big bag around his waist. I guess he can be a bit naive and is not very street smart. He is used to being around known groups of kids, most of whom have parents who have been informed by me of his PA.

I don't know exactly what kind of response I am expecting from you all out there. I know I have to find my own comfort zone (or rather re-find it!) but wonder about how some of you handled this age and the need for independence. And really, am I crazy for letting him go off without anyone else who knows about his PA?

I was reading the long "comfort zone" thread here but it seems to mostly be about the early years.

This site has been a godsend for me. I only just discovered it last month after dealing with PA for 11 yrs! Any words of wisdom would be very welcome, even if it is a smack upside the head for being stupid and reckless!

Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2007 - 9:27am
Sandra Y's picture
Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

Well, I think you're doing fine.
He's at an age where he needs more independence, and you're giving it to him. Naturally, you're having some anxiety about it, but you'll get used to it.
There are a million things that could go wrong. Since he's PA, those are the anxieties that are bothering you the most, but if he weren't PA, maybe you'd be more worried about abduction or an accident. I think it's normal, when we give our kids more independence, to be uncomfortable and anxious about it at first. Then we get used to the idea of them doing X, Y, or Z by themselves and we're no longer a wreck over it.
I guess what I'm saying is that your anxiety is normal but I think the independence you're allowing him to have at this age is well within the range of normal, and you will soon adjust and feel more comfortable with it.
When I feel anxious about a new activity my son is doing, I just force myself not to think about it. I tell myself that everywhere in the world, kids his age are walking home alone/ going on field trips/ visiting friends (whatever the new activity is) and he'll be fine. Then I find something to do that will take my mind off it, so I stop thinking about him and obsessing. I remind myself that worrying and making myself miserable does not make him any safer. These strategies work for me, and reduce my anxiety enough to let me function, and then each time he does the new activity I feel a little more relaxed about it until finally it's just a normal part of our routine and I hardly even think about it any more.
Good luck, mama. All mothers go through this, whether or not their kids have PA.

Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2007 - 5:50pm
Jennifer66's picture
Joined: 08/20/2007 - 09:00

Thanks, Sandra. I do try to distract myself when he's out, that seems to help a bit. I just worry that maybe I haven't prepared him enough for dealing with the "outside world" on his own, and now I'm just letting him out the door to sink or swim! For me, the MFA seems to overwhelm other worries like abduction. It seems to overwhelm everything some days!
I've obviously let him out to go to things without me before, but it has always been with the presence of another adult who knew about allergies and epis. This letting him out completely on his own is so nerve wracking.

Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2007 - 10:52pm
notnutty's picture
Joined: 03/15/2004 - 09:00

Jen: I am not normally a huge advocate of this....but does he have a cell phone? I think when my PA son is 12 I will get him a cell phone, that way when he is out on his own and I want to reassure myself that he is doing fine, I know I can just call him. I know others who have older PA children have given their child a cell phone for communication purposes. It may make you feel better knowing he is just a phone call away and help is easily obtained if necessary.
You seem to be doing just fine, and I would think that being anxious is very normal considering the situation. Letting go is hard without FA...the FA complicates everything.
Welcome to the Board.

Posted on: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:14am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))) This has to be hard... mine are very small still, but I don't look forward to having to let go like that.
I've noticed some of the older kids in the neighborhood have walkie talkies that their parents can get ahold of them on. Not a cell phone so you don't have to worry about the bill, but you and he can get ahold of each other at any time. You can find good ones at stores that sell camping supplies.
That might help you feel more comfortable because he can get ahold of you any time.

Posted on: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:47am
mom135's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007 - 09:00

I think you are doing fine. I have to say, I like the cell phone idea. If something does happen, he would be able to dial for help quickly. That will make me feel a lot better when the time comes. Probably around the same age as yours.

Posted on: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:22am
SFMom's picture
Joined: 11/27/2006 - 09:00

Stupid and reckless? (((HUGS))) Not at all. Your son is growing up. He will increasingly go places without you in the next few years. It will be scary as **** and you'll have to get used to it!
My DDs are ages 13 and 11. They are both PA and TNA, not to mention allergic to many legumes including soy. My older DD is starting to go out on her own with friends (to the mall, to movies, etc). I always drill her....does she have her Epi-pen twinpack? Does she have her cell phone? Remember to speak up about your allergies, don't be shy. Etc. etc.
The biggest challenge IMO is that kids in the pre-teen and teen years don't want to call attention to themselves and often don't speak up enough about their allergies in situations where there is food. "Oh Mom, it so EMBARRASSING!" Sheesh, I could smack her for being irresponsible sometimes!
I'm trying to drill into older DD's head that she needs to know where her Epi-pen is at all times. She is a good kid but can be flakey sometimes. My husband thinks I go overboard being stern with her, but IMO this is one situation where it is necessary to be stern.
It can be really terrifying to be the parent of an allergic child. But you have to teach them the best you can and then at some point you will have to let go. I'm dreading the day when they go to college and are totally out on their own. Yikes, it almost makes me physically ill to think about it. But hopefully by then, they will be mature and responsible enough to take their health seriously and be proactive about the food around them.
[This message has been edited by SFMom (edited September 10, 2007).]

Posted on: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:45pm
Jennifer66's picture
Joined: 08/20/2007 - 09:00

Wow, you have all been so reassuring! Thank you for everyone's great support and ideas. I do send him off with a cell phone but we are so rural that cell phone signal coverage is pretty hit and miss. So I think I will try the walkie talkie idea for when he is out and about in the village.
SFMom, it must get even harder when they start feeling embarrassed about the whole thing, on top of everything else! We haven't run into that yet because DS's social group is pretty well known to him and they all know about him, but I know the day will come when he widens that social circle to include people that he may be embarrassed to be so forthcoming with. Gulp. That is really scary to me.
Thanks, everybody, for all your reassuring words. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this.

Posted on: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 2:00am
k9ruby's picture
Joined: 03/25/2004 - 09:00

If it helps, I am severly anaphylactically allergic to nuts and I am 16. What I do is carry my meds and mobile in a small shoulder bag (fatface!!!) and tell people about it, my friends know, my family know, relatives know, neghbours know, teachers know, TAs know, the cafe staff know and even my hairdresser knows!!!

Posted on: Fri, 09/14/2007 - 3:50am
krc's picture
Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

Hi! My dd just turned 11 and we have been struggling with this also. It seems everyday that there is a new activity or responsibility that she would like to try.
It's hard, but I also think she does deserve a little bit more independence at this age. It is hard to turn off all the "what if's" in my headthough.
I also make sure she ALWAYS has a cell phone with her for my peace of mind.
I keep hoping all these baby steps toward independence are going to make it a little easier for all of us when it comes time for her to head off to college!
It is hard to let go....

Posted on: Fri, 09/14/2007 - 5:26am
SFMom's picture
Joined: 11/27/2006 - 09:00

I also want to add that I finally got my girls Medic Alert bracelets (and in the process of course they are now registered with the Medic Alert system). This gives me a bit more peace of mind when they are away from me and my husband.
My husband is a lot more casual about this than I am. I drive myself crazy with "what ifs". He is more of a numbers person and looks at odds. We've had a lot of arguments and discussions. See my other thread about the dreaded 8th Grade Trip that is coming up next summer.
I told him that while the kids are minors and living at home, they are our responsibility and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything I possibly could to keep them safe (without smothering them...which is really really hard!)
We parents of kids with food allergies walk a slippery slope. Especially as the kids get older and need more independence.
I often think that if a genie appeared and gave me just one wish, I would wush that my kids have no allergies or medical problems.


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