Allergies have become all too common with children these days. My child has severe food allergies and if you want to help her, there are things I want you to do. There are things I want you to stop.
1. Please don't tell my daughter her life is hard.
She has food allergies, not cancer. She's one of the luckiest girls in the world and I will never let her use allergies as a crutch. The biggest challenge with food allergies are the people who don't "believe" them. They roll their eyes and act like you're hypochondriac allergy mom. These people are the single biggest risk to my allergy child. I beg you. Do NOT be that person. So, instead of telling her that you feel sorry for her, tell her you'll help protect her. Tell her you understand allergies are serious and you will be a grown up she can trust to help keep her safe. And then do that.
2. Please don't ask me what she's allergic to. Ask her.
One of the best things you can do for a child is empower them. She's our first line of defense in allergy warfare and teaching her to communicate about her allergies is critical. She's allergic to 15 things and she can tell you every single one of them. If she hasn't been to your house, she'll ask you to read the soap label for her to confirm it doesn't have milk or tree nuts (a lot of them do!). She knows that casein is actually considered dairy and that only some of the Annies products are safe because some are manufactured on the same line as eggs. You think a 5 year old can't advocate for their own safety? I disagree.
3. Please don't tell me "she'll probably outgrow" them.
It's true. Most kids outgrow allergies. In Charli's case, her numbers continue to rise which decreases the likelihood of her outgrowing them. I'm not going to let her think they're going to go away, because there's a chance they won't.
4. Please don't complain...
about having nut free schools or having to refrain from eating peanuts when you're on a flight with her. You know why? Cuz it makes you an a$s, that's why.
5. Please don't give her anything to eat
(EVEN IF I TOLD YOU IT WAS SAFE) without asking her if she has her EPI pen. There are stories all the time about kids dying from allergic reactions. A large portion of these deaths could be prevented if the allergy child had been given epinephrine. So, if she doesn't have it, you CANNOT feed her.
6. Please don't treat her like she's special….for this.
She IS special, for a million reasons other than her allergies. She doesn't need you to make special treats for your kids birthday party. The world isn't going to accommodate her allergies so you don't need to either. She needs to realize that she's not like other kids. She can't eat the cake at birthday parties, she can't have cookies at the grocery store, and she needs to wash her hands every single time she puts them in her mouth. She needs to realize that in life you need to be prepared. When she goes to a party, she needs to bring food that is safe for her to eat and that's OK.
I know some allergy parents will disagree with me on these things. Some allergy parents want allergy free schools, nut free bakeries, and a load of other special accommodations. But that's not teaching our kids about the way life works. I think all schools should have epi pens on hand because they can save a kids life. I think schools should have nut free zones because it's an easy enough thing to do and it could save a child's life. I think we should educate people about allergies and how they can keep kids safe. I think we should focus on finding a cure for allergies because life would be easier without them. But we can't insist on everyone considering our allergy kids as much as we, their parents, do.
Allergies are a challenge. Allergies are scary. But allergies are just one of the many challenges my child will face in life. The best thing we can do for our allergy kids is to empower them. To believe them. And to help keep them safe. Not by putting them in a bubble, or adapting the entire world to their needs. We keep them safe by teaching them to navigate in an unsafe world. By teaching them to be prepared. Teaching them to communicate. And teaching them to TRUST THEMSELVES above anyone else. And teaching them to stab someone with their EPI who says allergies are fake. Ok, you're right, let's not teach them that.
Xoxo. Tipsy mommy