'Peanut Allergy Princess' is the story of one mom, one Princess with food allergies (to peanuts and brazil nuts) and our journey through the stress of life with food allergies. Here you will find many recipes, tips on living (and enjoying life) with food allergies, thoughts from a mother of 3 kids (The Brothers and The Princess) and insights into our life. Welcome!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Talk

We are going to begin this post with a story... which we haven't done yet on the blog. There is a first time for everything.

One morning, I was getting after Brother #1 for not cleaning out his lunch box the night before and leaving it on the floor in his backpack. He had taken a PB sandwich to school for lunch the day before and the remnants were still in his lunch container. I reminded him what could happen if The Princess was to get her hands on it.  After this conversation with Brother #1, Brother #2 decides he is going to teach The Princess a thing or two about her food allergies. (I have already started talking to The Princess about peanuts and peanut butter and how they can make her sick -- even though she is not even 2 1/2 yet, but that is as far as we have taken it.) This is the conversation:

Brother #2: "Princess, if you eat peanuts, you will not just get sick, you will DIE. Do you know what that means, DIE!!" (emphasis on the word die, said with a low, raspy and dramatic voice).

The Princess: "You eat peanuts, you will die. You eat peanuts, you will die" (This was repeated many times over the course of the day.)

That conversation reminded me of the seriousness of The Princess's allergies. Not that I had forgotten, but sometimes I think I get too complacent. It is always good to have simple reminders when dealing with the life of my daughter - simple reminders that aren't life threatening.  It also had me thinking of the appropriate time to teach food allergic children the seriousness of their allergies.

As mentioned earlier, we have already begun telling The Princess that she can't eat peanuts or peanut butter because it will make her sick but I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand. She usually asks for peanut butter after we talk to her about it because it is on her mind. I wonder at what point will she understand. At what point will she be old enough to understand what could happen if she ate peanuts or peanut butter. I asked that question to some friends who also have kids with food allergies. One of them said it took a trip to the ER for her son to figure out the severity of his allergies. Yikes! Luckily he was ok.

I want The Princess to be safe and have the knowledge she needs to make her own decisions as she gets older, but I don't want her to have anxiety and be paranoid to eat food in general. There is a very fine line that parents of food allergic children and food allergic people themselves have to walk. Enough paranoia and anxiety to keep your child (or yourself) safe but not so much that you can't function when eating outside your own home.

The Princess is a very care-free child and not one to worry too much about things. I would like to keep her that way and wonder how I will teach her about her allergies without filling her full of fear. So far, I have let her be babysat by a few individuals (who have either been trained or have kids with food allergies) - which sounds harmless, but is in fact, a very scary thing. I have also allowed The Princess to attend church class with other little kids her age - even though there is food served (which I have screened, of course) and the remote possibility that someone could have brought peanuts or peanut containing products into their classroom during the week and there could be residue or crumbs left behind. Hopefully these small steps allow her freedom and room to grow and become independent.

My hope for The Princess is that she will feel like a normal child who just happens to have food allergies and not a child whose entire life is consumed and dictated by food allergies.


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