We stood in front of racks filled with candy, the girls’ eyes wide as they scanned the recognizable packaging for something that jumped out at them. I prodded them to hurry up—OK, strongly urged is probably closer to the truth. We were going to be late. We were meeting our friends at the movie theater next door but had stopped in to pick up way less expensive candy (shhhh, don’t tell).
Samantha made her choice and immediately flipped the package over to read the back. “Mom?” she said. “I don’t think this has nuts, but can you check to make sure it’s safe for Maddie?” She wasn’t planning on sharing her candy, but she knows that Maddie has a serious nut allergy and wanted to make sure her buddy would be safe.
My momma heart burst a little, especially since lately I’ve noticed one too many adults having little to no regard for the safety of kids with food allergies. They complain about the inconvenience of having to work around allergies for school snacks and birthday parties. They are incensed that their children have to “miss out” because another kid has an allergy.
My children don’t have food allergies and I’m pretty much a tree hugging hippie, but thought processes like those fill me with rage.
It’s sort of like when I was pregnant and sitting in the OBGYN office waiting for my appointment. The minutes ticked by on the clock and another woman waiting huffed and puffed more loudly with each second that passed. Her under-the-breath grumbling got louder and she tried to rope me into some kind of twisted camaraderie around what she assumed was our shared anger at having to wait.
But I thought about the situation differently. What if there was a woman inside whose ultrasound showed something alarming? If that was me, you better believe I’d hope to get the full attention of anyone and everyone qualified to help me and my baby. And I would hope that my baby’s life would be a little more important than the inconvenience of sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes.
I feel the same way about food allergies. It’s not so terrible an inconvenience to search a little harder and look at the ingredients list a little more closely when it can be a life or death situation for a child. Isn’t that common sense?
And what good does complaining about it do? What is there to even complain about? You’re helping to keep a child safe. That is not an inconvenience. That should be a given.
If not, maybe the thoughts of children who actually have life-threatening food allergies will make people reconsider. According to FARE, 1 in 13 children in the US has a food allergy, and a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes. I asked some kids what life was like living with a food allergy and how it has effected them:
This Saturday, October 10th 2015 is the FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Westchester at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle. Since 2010, they have raised approximately $1.2 million for research and food allergy education and advocacy programs. This year’s walk will feature a photo booth, caricature artist, face painting, soccer training, bounce houses, Teal Pumpkin Project™ crafts and more.
We can’t make it to the walk, but to show our support and to promote the safety of kids with food allergies this Halloween, the girls and I made some teal pumpkins this weekend. In case you haven’t heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project, it’s a way to show kids with food allergies and their families that your home has non-food options available for trick-or-treaters.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to raise caring, compassionate children. You don’t do that by modeling behavior that goes against that. Bitching about having to accommodate for food allergies tells your kids that what they want is more important than someone else’s health and safety. That’s not a message I’m looking to spread.