When you have food allergies, you are surrounded by poison. Everywhere you look, there are treats and meals that will, should you eat even a crumb of them, kill you over the space of maybe twenty minutes. It makes Valentine’s Day tricky, to say the least.
Charlie isn’t old enough for pre-school, but I got a preview of what’s ahead when his four-year-old brother showed me the bag of Valentines he’d collected at preschool yesterday. I sent Max off to preschool with some paper Valentines, not realizing that nearly every other kid was headed there with candy. It’s no problem for Max, as he has no food allergies, but I was caught off-guard when I showed up at the end of school (with Charlie) and he asked to bring the candy home. I explained that he could only save the non-food treats, and he understood. He was disappointed, of course, but Max takes a lot of responsibility for Charlie’s allergies. He tells people we meet about them and watches what Charlie eats, commenting on whether he thinks its safe.
What will it be like for Charlie when he starts going to school? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want him around these temptations. It’s one thing to avoid milk or peanut butter. It’s another to not reach into your own Valentine bag and pull out the chocolate kiss – to not touch any of the candy because any of it could have been cross-contaminated. That’s a tough spot to be in when you’re a kid.
While I’m on the topic of temptation, I always get a kick out of the people who post comments online (often under news stories about how schools handle food allergies) about how candy bars with peanuts should be allowed in schools, and that FAKs (food allergy kids) should just consider those lethal snacks to be learning experiences. Really? That’s a very high-stakes way to teach the kid self control that he’s not old enough to possess yet. Resist the temptation to taste the candy that everyone around you is eating, that other kids are encouraging you to eat and telling you that it’s perfectly safe. Sure! I’ll bet that most of the people who make those comments aren’t nearly so disciplined, themselves. I’d LOVE to know the BMI of some of those…people.