Monday, July 12, 2010

Watching Him Grow Up with Food Allergies

by Kelley Lindberg

My son is growing up.

While there are a lot of things about that statement that scare the heck out of me, there are a few things about it that make me happy. Like the fact that we are finding movies and television shows we can watch together now that don’t involve animation. And he’s old enough to mow the lawn. That sort of thing.

Another thing that’s good about him being 11 is that he’s becoming more and more responsible about taking care of his food allergies. The other day he went to a friend’s house to play. The mom knows about his food allergies, and she promised to take good care of him. Turns out, she took them to a grocery store to get an ice cream cone for a snack. I didn’t know that was part of the plan for the day, or I’d have worried and given him all sorts of instructions, and I probably would have told him to just skip the ice cream cone because it’s too scary to think I wouldn’t be there to check for nut contamination.

But I wasn’t there. So what did he do? He asked the person at the counter about peanuts and nuts, and then asked to read the ingredients on the package of cones. They handed it to him, he read it, discovered that the only common allergens listed were wheat and soy – no nut contamination. Then he verified that the soft-serve vanilla ice cream bin only contained vanilla, and he made sure they didn’t mix it with anything else.

In other words, he did everything I would have done, had I been there. And, of course he had his EpiPens with him.

So he ordered the ice cream cone, ate it with confidence, paid attention for any signs of reaction (he didn’t have any), and was just fine. He was so confident, in fact, that he didn’t even remember to tell me about it until the next day. He’s grown up watching me go through this routine at restaurants, of course, so it didn’t even occur to him that this was momentous at all. (Okay, so maybe it was momentous to only one of us.)

As trial runs go, it went well. I’d have been happier if I’d known about it before-hand, but what would I have done differently? Tell him to do all the things he did? Worry more?

It’s hard watching him grow up. But it’s wonderful to realize that as he does, he’s growing more responsible, too.

After all, that’s what every parent wants for their kids, right?

By the way, we’re going to go see a movie today. The animated kind. I can’t wait.

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