I need advice


I am undecided about whether to allow my PA 13-year-old son to go to the woods with his best friend's family this weekend. He would be at least 45 minutes away from a hospital. Also, he is moderately allergic to mosquitoes (gets huge red lumps). We live in central Arkansas, where there are 4 kinds of poisonous snakes, chiggers, and all kinds of biting insects. It's over 90 degrees here today, so the insects are still around.

Would you do it? If so, what preparations other than sending him with 3 or 4 epi-pens, Benadryl, albuterol (he has asthma), and a cell phone, would you send?

I admit to being hypervigilant and overprotective. The poor kid, he usually just wants to play video and computer games in the air-conditioning. I feel guilty for encouraging his couch potato inclinations. So, I think I'll second guess myself no matter what I do. But I really would appreciate your comments and advice.

On Oct 3, 2000

Unfortunately, this one is going to have to be your decision. I don't think any of us would want to take the responsibilty if God forbid something should happen. We all agonize over these decisions. We can't keep our kids in a bubble, we want them to enjoy life, but our number one concern is to keep them safe. We all have different comfort zones, as you see from these boards. My daughter lives a very normal life. We eat out in restaurants, she goes to parties, she sleeps over at friends' houses, but I draw the line when it comes to going away to summer camp for the summer. Though all of her friends go away, she just can't. You and your family must make this decision on your own. (I know other mothers of PA kids who don't let the allergy run their lives at all, while others are even more careful than I am.) We all have to do what is right for our own families.

On Oct 3, 2000

My peanut/tree nut severely allergic brother is an outdoors person and has been all of his life. If you take appropriate precautions like sending all his food and the medications you mentioned then you might feel comfortable saying yes. I remember that at that age my brother was very interested in fitting in and belonging and he chafed at restrictions that got in his way unnecessarily. It is a decision that you and your son need to talk about and make as rationally as possible, together. It is hard to know what to do and anxiety can affect our initial impressions about an activity. If you and your son can think this through then you may find a way of letting this outing into your comfort zone. Take care.

On Oct 3, 2000

Hi Kathy - I'm in a similar situation, but it won't affect me until next summer. We have a remote cottage - 20 minutes to nearest medical centre, 1 hour to nearest major hospital, no running water or electricity - just nature at its finest.

I don't really have any choice but to take my daughter next year, she loves swimming and its a wonderful family experience, but I am very nervous about it. I wouldn't let her go there with anyone but me (sometimes our relatives take the kids up). I know you don't have the option of going with your son, plus he's 13 yrs. where my daughter is only 3.

I also have a 13 yr. old son - he's non-PA but has major reactions to mosquito bites (he hates mosquitoes more than bees!). I give him Benadryl and put Caladryl lotion/cream on the bites, and within 12 hours, they're fine. I think your decision will finally rest with how well you know your son's friend's family. Will they be willing to take the necessary precautions? If they aren't overly concerned with the allergens you described, then I wouldn't let him go. If they are responsible and allergy aware, and you trust them, then go with your instinct. By that I mean, even if they are willing to take every precaution, but you're still uncomfortable, don't send him.

Having the same age son, I know my days of deciding what he will and won't do are numbered! Even with PA, your son will have to start making decisions for himself in the next few years, so this might be a good opportunity to discuss the pros and cons with him. Let him participate in the decision, and then if you decide against letting him go, he will understand your reasons.

I can't really say what I would or wouldn't do in your situation, because I really don't know. I agree with the above post that I will never send my PA daughter to summer camp, but in your situation there aren't that many kids to interact with, so it's different. Good luck and best wishes, whatever you decide. Please post next week and let us know what happened. Take care. Carolyn

On Oct 3, 2000

You didn't say what triggers his asthma.

On Oct 3, 2000

I do agree it is a tough decision. My son is 14 and PA allergic. He also has asthma. I did let him go on a camping trip last year for a couple of days. For one thing I was a wreck because I am not a believer of letting them sleep anywhere except for home. I totally trusted the family because I have known them for years. Our sons are best friends and her husband a State Trooper. We went over his allergy and excatly what should be done in an emergency. We also went over all the food that would be on the trip. My son is very shy and we felt that this may be good for him especially going with a family with such a good reputation with their own kids. It is completly up to you and I just felt you would like to hear a positive outcome from someone. I'll tell you it is so hard because everyone says now that he is older you must never have to worry. The truth is the worry is just as bad if not worse. He had a great time and I was glad he was home. Good luck please let us know the outcome. Personally I would stay home just because of the Snakes. Claire