Even though I've been dealing with my daughter's food allergies and seasonal allergies for years, I still find myself having to make tough calls about her health vs. socializing. We are fortunate to have so many understanding friends and neighbors but sometimes we just have to say "no" to one thing and find a different solution. And that doesn't have to be tragic.
I want to share a quick story because I sometimes feel that parents beat themselves up over the things their kids have to "miss out on" due to food allergies or other allergies.
My daughter and her really good friend have been trying to arrange a sleepover at the friend's house for several weeks now. This was supposed to take place this coming weekend. Well, right now, seasonal allergies are really taking a toll on my daughter's health. She's on medication but the pollen count is giving her a lot of stuffiness and breathing problems.
Last week, she hung out at her friend's house (the one who wanted to host the sleepover) and when she got home, she was stuffy, wheezing and needed her asthma inhaler. Turns out that the seasonal allergies that already existed were being aggravated even more by an apparent allergy to her friend's pet guinea pigs.
What to do? The date was arranged, the plans had been made, the hosting family couldn't be nicer or more accommodating with our daughter's food allergies.
I decided that we needed to host the sleepover at our house and try again at the friend's home when spring is over and the pollen count subsides. (My daughter is a lot better in the summer than the spring). My daughter has hung out with the guinea pigs in the past and not suffered intense symptoms, so I figured she just couldn't take the pet allergies and seasonal allergies all at once. I worried a little bit about offending the parents of my daughter's friend, but knew I needed to make the call.
Well, when my daughter came home for lunch, she had already taken care of it. She spoke to her friend, explained the problem and they decided the sleepover should be at our house. I didn't even need to sweat this. Obviously, it's no fun for a kid to have an asthma attack, so my daughter advocated for her own situation and it was resolved.
Everyone knows that it is more fun to attend a sleepover at someone else's house, so I did feel a little bit bad that my daughter couldn't do that this time. But you know what? She was OK with it.
I frequently hear from parents who are really sad that their child can't visit an ice cream shop like they, the parent, used to do as as a child. Or they worry that depriving their child of a treat at a birthday party will damage their child's self-esteem. I'm not saying that this can't happen, but kids are smart and resilient. Don't make a big deal about it and there's a good chance they might not, either.
My biggest obstacle now: deciding on an appropriate movie for the girls to watch. That's OK. Sometimes it's nice to be faced with a parenting challenge that's non-allergy related.