It's Food Allergy Awareness Week. I've posted a link to a video that I would like you to watch in honor of Sean, several of his friends and all of the little kids out there with life-threatening food allergies. The anxiety parents face when dealing with their children's food allergies is immense. And helping our children grow up in a world that can be so threatening at the end of a fork is sometimes overwhelming. The teen years and adulthood loom ahead. I just hope Sean and his friends learn to respect their allergies enough not to take unnecessary risks. For them, that means not getting a cone at Ashley's or joining other friends for Thai food. Or, as they get older, not kissing a girlfriend or boyfriend if that person has eaten peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish, or whatever their particular allergen is.
To say I'm terrified is an understatement. But at the same time, I walk the tightrope between vigilance and acceptance. I don't want Sean to grow up to be paranoid and anxious when it comes to food or anything else. Nor do I want him to be cavalier toward his allergy. Already, at age 8, he must be able to self-administer his Epi-Pen at the summer camp he will attend. This will require a lot of practice with the tester, and a lot of hope that he never has to use it.
When Sean goes to friends' houses, it can be unnerving. But I often have the luxury of knowing that the parents of those friends either know how to use the epi becuase their children are allergic, or because one of the parents is a firefighter/EMT, since Sean's two closest, "bestest" friends are sons of firefighters. Providential, really. And uncanny.
So please watch this. It might help you have a bit more empathy for chidren with food allergies and their families. Or if your child is allergic, this video might help you, like me, feel less alone. I unexpectedly burst into tears watching it. It was comforting to know I'm not the only parent that worries every time I say goodbye to my child as he leaves for school, camp, or any activity where I can't monitor every single bite he takes. I just hope I've done my job well enough for him to make the right decisions thus far. I'm terrified that there will be some mistake, some slip-up along the way. But I can't let that fear rule my life or, more importantly, his.