Sunday, February 2, 2014
And Then She Said "He can't have it at all?" #foodallergies
We are still celebrating the lunar new years here. Our family traditions are simple, all reflect around family gatherings and food. It is a beautiful and fun time of year for us, as is any other big holiday throughout the year. Unfortunately as my little boy gets older holidays are getting more and more difficult to deal with because of food allergies. Not only does this mean he will be left out, but he will also be in danger. I can proudly say he is a happy child and that keeps me going, but food allergies do stand in our way quite a bit. How does one enjoy a holiday/event when it revolves 98% around food?
One of the traditions for our lunar new year celebration is that everyone visits their respected elderly family members, and receives a small gift when they leave. It could be something as simple as a candy bar, a sock, or the more evolved over time present are toys, clothes, and gadgets. We pretty much skipped the big tradition of visiting every elderly family member hosting this year, but a couple. I made my kids allergy friendly versions of what I can before we headed out, and had many talks with my son about the holiday. I let my 5 year old know that there will be many different dishes of food on the table that he cannot eat, touch, smell, or even get near. He already knows at this age, but we go over it all. all the time. Life threatening food allergies for yah!
All went well, despite the moment when hope got the best of my little boy. He ran to the kitchen where I stood with the lady of home we were visiting. He asked her looking past me what was used in the huge roast beef on the table. I interfered and had to speak to him about why he can't have it. Apparently he wasn't the only one hoping they had just used salt and pepper, as his father was behind the question being asked. He doesn't even like roast beef, it just looked so grand, he wanted to try. Nothing wrong with that, but so heartbreaking. I told him that we'd get one and make it ourselves, even that big - as he wanted.
On second thought, all wasn't well. But it was expected as the very close family members home had a cigarrete smoker, my son started to cough needing his asthma medicine. I almost didn't mention it, everyone else's attitude towards it, is rubbing off on me. Everyone acts like it is just supposed to be. So let me say now, it isn't okay, and it isn't normal - which is sadly why we don't visit as much as we would otherwise.
Then it was time to leave. Remember the little gift I mentioned above. So let me repeat one fact..these are close family we chose to go to out of respect, and know us very well. Someone I speak to in depth, often about our troubles with food allergies handed us all little bags. My son the last to receive something, looked on. Then a "YES!" as he wasn't sure if he was getting one. He quickly thanked them, turned around and opened his bag. I hear him say "how did they know?! I always wanted this.." in pure joy, I stop him to see a small clear bag with chocolate coins and lollipops. I hugged my son closely, told him they had made a mistake, and set it aside. He quickly understands and tries to ask if maybe we can eat the chocolate and re-use to gold foil. My heart, my heart. My poor sweet little boy. I spoke to him about it, and he didn't speak of it again until we were riding in the car back home. He stared blankly out the dark city lights as we drove over the bridge and asked "how can they forget about my allergies?"
And that was exactly the question. How could they? I placed the candy (aka poison to my child) right where they can see it when I left, and expressed my disappointment on my face with a frown. The lady of the home we were visiting said questionably "he can't have it at all?" I said "no of course not, everything about it is allergies."
They just don't get it. I'm so sad. The world is so scary.
In my frustration once the kids were asleep I talked to my husband. I rambled and rambled, until I summed up my points with two sentences.
"It's the same as having your most wished for gift wrapped up, handed to you. And once you open it up, get excited. Having the person gifting it to you, tell you that you can't have it - without a sorry." Clearly twice as bad if you're a child.
"Giving a child poison as a gift." I don't know how else to describe it. They know he only eats food that comes out of my kitchen. We've been over it so many times. They know how extremely severe his allergies are. We've told them a bazillion times, they've heard of our incidents just as many times. Food allergies, anaphylaxis can kill in 2 minutes.
I'm out of words for now.