Monday, March 7, 2011

Friends In Need, Friends Indeed

by Kelley Lindberg

About a week ago, my friend Kim and I chaperoned our sons’ sixth grade field trip. Her son is my son’s best friend (those of you who read this blog regularly know all about this dynamic duo of food-allergic buddies). My son is allergic to nuts and peanuts, while her son is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, seafood, and a few other things.

Now, the great thing about having 12-year-old kids is that they’re getting old enough to self-manage a lot of the food allergy issues that scare us mothers. They can read labels, they can tell their friends about their allergies, they can skip the cupcakes at birthday parties without a second thought, and they can notice things like Reese’s wrappers on the seat of the school bus and avoid them. Sure, they’re still boys, and that implies a lot of … well, you know, those “what were you thinking” moments (and we know those will get a lot more common as they become full-fledged teenagers). But for the most part, we’ve been happy with how they’re slowly learning to be responsible for their own health.

But Kim and I still volunteer to chaperone field trips, just so we can be close if something happens. (Once a paranoid mom, always a paranoid mom.)

Anyway, at the end of this particular field trip, the facility we were visiting surprised us all with full-sized candy bars for all 100 kids. Exciting for the kids, momentary panic for me and Kim.

So here’s what happened. From the candy bars offered, my son selected the one that he knew was nut-free (the plain Hershey’s bar), and so did his best friend. The best friend can’t eat the Hershey’s bar, but he grabbed one anyway so he could give it to my son. My son then promptly handed him the Twizzler that he received earlier for answering a question correctly. Happy trade.

But that’s not the end of the story. 100 kids piled onto two school buses, armed with Reese’s, Almond Hershey’s, Babe Ruths, and all sorts of other nut-loaded candy. One of the teachers came up to me, apologizing for the candy, but it was too late – the kids were already ripping into them. I knew that my son would be sitting with his buddy, and that Kim was with them, so I squashed my worries and trusted her to keep them safe. (I was in charge of a different group of kids, so I wasn’t sitting with my own son. Go figure.)

When we got back to the school, Kim came off the bus with a huge grin on her face. I asked her if the boys were okay, and she said they were better than okay. When they got on the bus, my son, Kim’s son, and another of their good friends who is aware of the 2 boys’ allergies all shared a single seat, and they put Kim’s son (who has the most allergies) in the middle, so that he was shielded from everyone else. Then my son and the third friend just tucked their candy bars in their pockets, refusing to eat them until they got home.

And all of this happened without Kim saying a word. All three boys just matter-of-factly leaped into action to keep the two allergic ones safe. No questions, no discussion, no help from the worried moms. They simply handled it.

Moral of the story? I see two:

1. Managing food allergies really does get easier for parents as our children get older.

2. Nothing beats good friends.

I’ve often written about my son’s circle of friends and how easily they accept his allergies and how hard they work to protect him. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of writing about how grateful I am for these kinds of friends.

My hope is that every food-allergic kid (and adult) out there finds friends like these. They certainly make the world a better, safer, and “friendlier” place for all of us. And if you are one of those friends, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


O said...

post=epic ^_^

Amber and Eric Merrell said...

I am so excited I found your blog. My two sons have quite a few allergies, and this post really gave me hope for the future. Neither of them goes to school yet, and the thought of them going is a bit scary.

O said...

Welcome! I'm so glad you found my blog -- I hope you can find some useful info and ideas here. I know you don't need school help just yet, but if you want, you can use the Search tool on my home page and search for "School" and you'll find some posts I've made about getting ready for school. And be sure you look at some of the links I've added to my blog -- I'm sure you'll find some good info about living with food allergies there, too. Welcome to the food allergy community... there are a lot of us out here, and we love to help each other out!