Today, 2015, I’m a Dad of 8 kids, two of whom have dangerous food allergies. My 7 and 5 year old kids are allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame seeds. But 7 years ago I was a Dad of 4 kids, none of whom had any food allergies.
I know both sides. This is what keeps me up at night.
I know what it was like to throw a birthday party; only to find out that the food I purchased wasn’t OK because a child with food allergies would be attending. Really? What a pain!
And now I know what it’s like to drop my food-allergic son off at an ice cream themed birthday party; only to see peanut butter ice cream as one of the flavors and nut-filled toppings all over the place.
I know how inconvenient it was to ensure that the care packages I sent to my kids in sleepaway camp were nut-free. Give me a break…I can’t send Kit Kats? Just because they “may contain nuts”? C’mon.
And now that my 7 year old is thinking about sleepaway camp for next summer….What if other parents feel as I used to feel? What if they aren’t careful enough and the “may contain nuts” chocolate they send in their care packages makes it through the inspectors at the camp office? How can I possibly send her?
Children with food allergies are at risk 24x7x365, which means I have a pit in my stomach 24x7x365. Until you are in my shoes, until you have a child (or in my case two children) with food allergies, you cannot appreciate how scary it is. My wife and I can keep our kids safe when we are with them. We can monitor what they eat when they are in our care. But the majority of the day that is not the case. They are in school, at camp, on playdates, at birthday parties, visiting family.
How do we get the message out to everyone that this is serious stuff? That this is life-threatening stuff? How do we build awareness? We need EVERYONE to know about our children’s food allergies ALWAYS. They need to know what our children are allergic to and how diligent they need to be ALL THE TIME. Otherwise, how can we be sure?
This is what keeps me up at night.
I’d love your feedback. I’ll repost some of your thoughts. Please email me at aweissman@AllerGuarder.com