Many people have commented with empathy that they can’t imagine what life must be like living with a child with food allergies. And sometimes, I hear or read about parents grumbling about how inconvenient it is to them that their child is in a class or play group with a child with food allergies. It breaks my heart to hear that but I can understand.
I can’t speak for other food allergy parents but, in my experience, living with food allergies is like sending my precious preschooler down the interstate on her tricycle in the middle of rush hour. I am out there madly waving and screaming to every car to please slow down and avoid her. You can only imagine my fear and anguish and the thoughts running through my head of losing my child. I have adorned her with a helmet and knee pads.. even dressed her in bright colored clothing but, she is still in the midst of chaos and clearly an accident waiting to happen. I am praying that no semi-trucks go flying by or someone not notice her. We have no other choice, this is our route, this is the only way we have to go. Sure, we can stay home and isolate ourselves from the world but, that idea has problems all it’s own.
Now imagine with me, sending her to school. It is much like sending her out there on her tricycle all alone. If you thought I was frantic before, now I am beside myself with many sleepless nights. Who will watch out for her? She can’t read the road signs (the labels on the boxes). She is not exactly sure where she is going (is not clearly able to express what is going on in her body when she is reacting or tell others the many things that she is allergic to—that she has never even eaten). And people can’t even see her without someone madly drawing attention to her. Sure, I am certain that Good Samaritans and maybe even a friend or two will notice and pull over and madly wave their arms and scream like a lunatic out on the interstate until they have to move along to their own obligations. There will certainly be some who tell her that she can’t take this road too. Many will honk their horns, maybe even yell and scream at her. And yes, she has slowed the traffic even more. The situation is no doubt inconvenient for all, including Kate and her family but, this is her route in life.
As her mom, I don’t feel like I have a choice to hold her back. I have to educate her to be safe on her route. We will of course avoid rush hour (i.e. parties and events that are focused on food when we feel there is no alternative). She needs to be out there just like all kids do even if all she has is her tricycle. It is not fair for me to ask that the roads be cleared for her either, as everyone uses the same road and they have places to go too. All I ask is that you keep an eye out for Kate. Drive slowly (remember to wash your hands and face if necessary), read the signs (labels) and be prepared. If an event is less than two hours, maybe consider not serving food at all. I am constantly asking myself “Why is it necessary to serve a snack in Sunday school, soccer practice, meetings, play groups or even a preschool class that meets for a total of four hours a week?” Please avoid sending the semi-trucks near her. Those trucks carry deadly toxins and even a drip from the truck could make her very, very sick or worse, the trucks could slam into her and kill her instantly. Those toxins for her are all dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, creams etc.. including products containing whey (baked goods), casein and yes.. even Goldfish crackers), eggs (mayonnaise, ingredients such as albumin, globulin and many more), nuts (peanuts and tree nuts) and peas.
So, what can Kate have? For snacks and treats, she loves to eat all fruits (watermelon, banana, apple slices, berries, etc… and most vegetables (carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, celery etc…), Rold Gold pretzels, Frito Lays, Regular, Chocolate or Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams, Cheerios, Chex, Lucky Charms, Oreos, almost all fruit snacks, Dum Dum suckers, Laffy Taffy, Sweetarts and Smarties. For lunches, she enjoys “Soy Nut Butter” and jelly sandwiches, turkey or ham sandwiches, most hot dogs and hamburgers along with lots of fruits and veggies and on occasion plain Lays potato chips. We usually give her water, juice or rice milk to drink.
When in doubt, read the label or please feel free to call me. There should be a “Contains” or “Made in a facility with” statement on the label. At the very least, the top eight allergens will be in bold if they are present. We do not buy things that were not manufactured in the US since the packaging requirements may not be the same. She cannot have things that are made on the same line or in a facility with dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts or peas either. If you are making something special, please consider letting me know in advance so that I can make something similar for Kate. She is no different than any other child in the desire to feel included. Thank you for considering Kate!
A final thought for her web page… getting a service dog for Kate in my mind is like giving her suitable transportation to handle the route she has to take in life.