In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I’d like to remind everyone who has a child who doesn’t suffer with food allergies to count their blessings. Also, have some sympathy for parents who have to deal with these life-altering conditions every day.
I’m Greek and Italian – there is nothing my family doesn’t eat. I’m fortunate enough to say that I am not allergic to a single food item. So far, neither are my kids. Although I’ve never personally had to deal with the trials of a food allergy, I am very sympathetic to parents that have to go through this. Thinking about how hard it is to get my toddler who can eat everything to eat anything – I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have various restrictions to think about as well.
If a child’s allergy means I can no longer pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my kid’s lunch – so be it. If it means there can be no more class parties with cake – so be it. I would gladly forego any of those things to be assured that a) I’m not putting anyone in danger and b) some little kid isn’t feeling left out again because he can’t indulge in what everyone else is eating.
Months ago I read a post by a woman who complained about not being able to bake the cupcakes she liked for her son to bring into class for his birthday. She started her post with this:
All over the country parents are being asked to accommodate the specialized needs of other people’s children… We can’t bring in homemade cookies or snacks; we’re asked to buy commercially prepared goods… you’re asked to make sure they’re “gluten, nut, and egg-free” or some other combination of scary food exorcism… I am rapidly reaching the end of my rope as I try to accommodate what feels like every child in the universe… One mom told me there were so many allergies in her children’s classes last year that all she could bring was gummy bears and juice boxes.
One family struggles with feeding their child and keeping them safe, pain-free and healthy – and the other is mad they can only pack gummy bears and juice boxes for a class party. It’s pretty much a no-brainer who I’m going to be sympathetic to.
Food allergies are real – parents aren’t being “paranoid” or making this stuff up. I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with this issue and when it comes to the kids my child interacts with I’ll do whatever I can to help. If you find yourself sighing because you can’t make your famous chocolate chip cookies for your son’s next class party – try to have some perspective and imagine what it would be like if your child was the one who could never indulge – or worse – could be made physically sick by those who refused to comply.