This past weekend my daughter was invited to go to a soccer game with her best friend. Her parents are aware of her food allergy, but to varying degrees. The mom is more on top of it, but the dad knows about it as well.
After agreeing on some basic rules, we sent our daughter off with my cell phone and asked her to eat only the snack we had packed for her.
I was feeling a little anxious because I realized after she left that I wasn't 100% sure where the soccer field was located. Of course, I want to know everything! What if, worse case scenario, we needed to tell an ambulance how to get there? I tend to envision worse case scenarios--I figure, be prepared.
My husband wasn't worried because my daughter had gone to soccer games with the same family before and had been fine. Also, she's very good about her allergies and knows what to avoid. We've also been teaching her how to use the EpiPen herself and how to recognize symptoms. But the best thing we tell her is: don't eat anything you're not sure of. I always send food with her anyway.
I called my daughter on my cell phone to find out the location of the soccer field and that was that. But I realized that my husband and I also have differing thresholds of comfort with her food allergy. For example, I find it hard to relax when eating in a restaurant with our daughter if it's overly busy or we haven't been there before. My husband doesn't really worry in a restaurant--although he is often the one to initiate the food allergy discussion with the staff.
It made me wonder what other FA families comfort levels are. For example, do you let your child eat at a restaurant if you're not in attendance? What about going to other places where there is high-risk food or the risk of food allergens? Do you let them go with precautions or do you have them skip it? Do you tend to worry more, or does your spouse? You get the drift.
Some of what you'll decide is relative to your child's age, but not always. Also, I've noticed peer pressure rearing its ugly head already with my 9-year-old girl. Like most "tweens" she dislikes being different, so my strategy is going to be consistency. Always following the same protocols for food will leave her well-equipped to manage it on her own. She won't have to wonder, "Well, once we handled food one way, and once we did it another way. Should I eat the food or not?" I want her to just not eat something she's not sure about and leave it at that. Keep it simple is my motto.
By the way, my daughter had a great time and returned home safely. I didn't get the "phone call." And I'm hoping that I won't get it, ever, if we make sure that she knows what to do.
Please participate in my informal survey and let us know what your comfort levels are with regard to your FA child's independent activities. This topic seems to be a hot-button issue for many families, so your answers should be interesting!