Food Allergies, Parenting

“Mom, if I eat all my dinner will my feet really grow?”

Today was an emotional day for my nearly 4 year old.  He didn’t get shoes, while his two big brothers did. I know, how traumatic for him.  Is it child abuse [insert significant sarcasm] to drag a child into a shoe store to watch his big brothers get brand spankin’ new summer shoes, while he wears the chalk stained pair that were acquired last summer?

“Mommy, [snif snif, lip quivering] I want a new pair of shoes, too.”  I plopped his whiny butt in a chair and said “if you are going to have a tantrum, you should at least make it a good one.”  But he didn’t.  It was annoying and whiny and never-ending.   The lady who runs the shoe store overheard it and finally said, “you know, if you eat all your dinner and go to sleep when your mommy says you should, your feet will grow, and THEN you can get a new pair of shoes.”

Dinner was comprised of a stew that was too spicy for my kids (in hindsight, I should have not added as many peppers,) fruit and bread.  The stew contained black beans, something this child has been allergic to.  However,  his allergist has advised us to push beans into his diet.  This child, who typically eats almost nothing for dinner, says, “mom, if I eat all my dinner will my feet really grow?”  And then he got weepy again.

Thanks lady.

I didn’t push it, since we don’t push eating at all in our house.   Typically I would have only expected him to eat his bread and fruit; he isn’t very adventurous with food and the stew was not something he would normally try.  But he wanted to eat it because he really wanted his feet to grow.  I think he ate at least a bite because he said it was really spicy.

And then I noticed that his ears turned bright red.  They are like our food allergy early alert system.  I asked him if he ate one of the beans.  He had said they “looked like jelly beans” earlier in the meal.  He didn’t know if he had.

And then after dinner he threw up.  I think he ate a bean.  We won’t be pushing them anymore.

My poor boy will just have to live with his year-old sandals that are perfectly fine and fit great.  And the lady at the shoe store needs to keep her advice about eating dinner to herself.

Food Allergies, Parenting

Food Allergies and Fear of Restaurants

We keep EpiPens with us at all times in case of a serious allergic reaction.

Two days a week I get my nearly 4 year old all to myself.  The other three he is in school and I’ve been working.  This bi-weekly affair delights both of us!  With only a few more months of these special days left, we really do make the most of them. (In the fall, he’ll go to preschool 5 mornings.)  Our typical days include the mundane like chores and errands, but also the fun like playing Candyland and extra cuddling.

Last week, on one of these special days, we took a dear friend out for a birthday lunch, but I brought safe food for my son.  Lately he’s had some unfortunate experiences at restaurants.  I’m still not recovered emotionally from these screw ups.  And as his parent, I need to take full responsibility for everything that goes in his mouth.  In that regard, I’ve let him down.

In January while away for a special family get-away at an indoor water park, he had a very serious allergic reaction.  The restaurant screwed up; gave him pancakes with  milk in them even though they had thought they were making something safe.  After 2 small bites, he was reacting.  We ended up giving him an epi pen (epinephrine) for the first time —  and then spent a long 4 hours in the ER.  Even after an epi and high dose Benadryl and steroids in the hospital he got hives.  He was in good hands and actually enjoyed the hospital experience, but says that getting the epi and getting sick at the restaurant was “very scary.”

Following that experience, we had a birthday dinner for his brother at McDonald’s,  and he asked us to bring him safe food from home.  It made us realize how aware he was of the possibility of getting sick while eating out.

Fast forward to early March.  We ventured out to a tried-and-true restaurant in our neighborhood.  He ordered his safe meal.  And he had a reaction.  Luckily this was more mild physically but it did scare him (and us).  Even “safe” food can become very unsafe if not handled properly while being prepared.

All of this is why last week he asked for me to bring him food from home. He’s afraid.

I’m scared too.  And I’m pissed. And I’m bummed.

The worst part last week wasn’t the pain-in-the-rear of bringing food from home.  It was that he was scared.  He asked to stay in the car.  He cried as we walked in.  He associates restaurants with feeling sick, and that is both a sad and a necessary reality for him.  And yet, while we want to teach him to be wary of food that isn’t in our control, we want so desperately for him to be included.