Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween - 2013 Edition

Halloween is filled with all kinds of emotions when dealing with life-threatening food allergies!
I'm so proud of myself.  Halloween is still 2 weeks away and safe allergy friendly treats are ordered, set to be delivered at our doorstep any day now.  In years past, it usually escaped my mind until the week before (too late to order), resulting in a mad dash to multiple stores to purchase whatever safe treats or toys we could find.  For our multiple food allergic child, this typically means trading unsafe treats for safe chocolate chips or small toys such as stickers, erasers, and pencils.  (Note - corn and soy are really big problems for us. I have yet to find standard nut-free/peanut-free brands that are also free of corn and soy, among others).  For some reason, I am afraid that he will be less than thrilled about safe chocolate chips yet again.  He is gaining awareness of his allergy predicament, which is a double-edged sword.  Good in that he is beginning to advocate for himself.  Bad in that he's socially and emotionally older, meaning he's becoming fully aware that he is "different" when all he really wants to do is "fit in."  Chocolate chips just aren't going to cut it anymore when all of his friends are getting those delicious looking, nose-pleasing aromas of chocolate and sugar all wrapped up in pretty colored packages.

Last year, I wrote about JR (4 at the time) gaining awareness of his allergies.  At the time, it became apparent he was figuring out that he was different from his non-allergic peers.  One little comment about Charlie Brown having allergies like him because Charlie Brown got rocks instead of Halloween treats, tore immensely at my heartstrings (see my previous post, "I Got a Rock - Charlie Brown").  This year, we have yet to watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  I wonder if he still thinks that Charlie Brown has allergies now that he has another year's worth of social and emotional development under his belt?  Stay tuned.

In the mean time, I've been giving a lot of thought into how having life-threatening food allergies fits into the normal social and emotional development of children.  What are the potential issues on the radar?  It is clear that our family is hurtling into new and uncharted territory.  Just when we had gotten used to handling food allergies in a toddler, we now have to figure out food allergies in a school-aged child - a different set of needs and concerns indeed!  JR needs and deserves greater freedom and independence.  But the fear increases as we are rightfully beginning to lose control of his environment.  Brace yourself, educate, and pray seems to be my mantra these days.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Social and emotional development -

A great collection of articles on social/emotional issues in food allergic children from the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation -

Our online source of allergy-friendly goodies!
Peanut-free Planet -

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