Charlie is young, but he’s already starting to realize that he can’t do things that other kids can do. I walked a similar path as I was growing up, so I know a lot about what’s ahead for him, and I’m both sad and happy for him.
Charlie will be able to go to school, but many of the social events will require some planning on his (and our) part, and there will be situations in which his allergies get between him and his ability to socialize the way other kids do. When he’s young, he can’t be around most normal food. When he’s older, he’ll have to be so, so careful. And he’ll have the judgment of a kid, so he’ll get himself in to trouble. Sometimes, it’ll be very hard to fit in. Sometimes, he’ll be very left out. And his ever-present mom and dad will be there during those times, when his friends are out having fun. And though they’ll try to entertain him, all he’ll be able to think about is the fun – the normalness – that he’s missing. There are much worse things to face than the occasional missed sleepover or class trip, but from a kid’s perspective, it’s hard to see around them. I remember.
That’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, thanks to Max starting preschool. Charlie is too young and couldn’t go anyway, so he rides to preschool in the wagon with Max and then turns around with me for the walk home (he likes to actually walk home, rather than ride). He starts out a little sad, but cheers up by the time he gets home and realizes he can play without big brother directing.
The distance between his life and a typical kid’s life isn’t really that great. He can play, he can speak, he can even sing. And having an allergy will make him a little more self-sufficient, I think. That was my experience. It also made me more aware of the world around me than other kids were. (After all, the world was more dangerous to me than to them.) That’s a good thing, too.
I hope that his comfort with self-entertainment lasts. I wasted a lot of time wishing I was with my buddies. We’ll see. For now, Charlie is just fine making his own way – with dad nearby.