On Halloween night, my son had his first trick-or-treating experience. My husband and I hadn't mentioned it until it was clear he knew it was a thing — honestly, we weren't sure we really wanted him to participate. As a child with food allergies, there are very few candies he can have. Plus, we aren't wild about introducing him to more opportunities for sugar. But he was fully aware that people would give him candy if he just rang the doorbell and asked. I was trapped.
Mac and cheese. Pizza. Chicken tenders. String cheese. These are staples of childhood. And they are things my son can’t have. In fact, these foods could make him very sick — or worse.
His food allergies aren’t the end of the world, but they do make life harder — for us as parents trying to find foods he’ll eat, yes, but mostly for him. We remain hopeful that he’ll grow out of them, but we’re also keenly aware he might not. And if he doesn’t? Well, he’s going to need certain skills when he gets older.
Weddings, birthday parties, family gatherings and neighborhood picnics. These are events that should be fun, right? But for parents of children with food energies, they can be stressful — from both a safety perspective and a social graces standpoint.
Here’s what goes through my mind pre-event: Should I call and ask what they’ll be serving? Should I bring food for my son? Will they think we’re rude if we bring our own food? Would it be rude to call and ask? Will they feel like I’m pressuring them to change their menu? It doesn't matter; I just want to plan. Will they understand?
Then, at the event: Is that cheese on the floor? Is my son reaching for a doughnut? Does that bread have egg? I wonder if the host made these meatballs? Should I ask her what’s in them? Did I remember the EpiPen?
Nothing makes you feel like a crappier allergy parent than not having your EpiPen. But I’m not one for over-spending on allergy “gear.” So, here’s what I do for a case instead.