For example, elementary school has presented many challenges, mainly because of all the food. Next year, we move on to middle school, a place with few if any food-filled class parties, but with much more expectation of responsibility onto the kids and other, myriad new challenges. And not just for their own allergies--for everything. Middle school is going to be a whole new ballgame and of course I have concerns like any parent. Food allergies present just one piece of the puzzle.
My daughter has learned to take care of her allergies to a large extent over these 8 years and she's also struggled with things, just like any kid dealing with food allergies. She's had to skip friends' birthday cake, miss out on class treats and feel concerned about things that others aren't. She's on the lookout for allergy pitfalls when I wish she didn't have to be.
But here's the thing: she's OK. She's actually more than OK. I know that parents dealing with nut allergies in the early stages worry about pretty much everything that their child will confront. I know I did--it's pretty normal to wonder about how they will navigate through regular life situations when they've got a life-threatening medical condition.
You may have seen the "Keep Calm and Carry On" merchandise that is currently popular today. It has been subjected to all kinds of permutations such as the birthday party napkin shown in the photo above ("Keep Calm and Birthday On." My daughter picked out this theme).
"Keep Calm and Carry On" was a slogan promoted to the British public in WWII, who were of course facing many horrors but were known for their stiff upper lip in a crisis. I think it's caught on today because it's just good advice.
It's not always easy to "keep calm and carry on" when dealing with young kids who have food allergies. You witness the reactions or listen to their disappointment about feeling "different." But when you, the parent, adopt the "keep calm and carry on" approach and instill it in the kids as best as you can, it does seem to help. Here's a common scenario you might face: you're watching your child in tears because they can't have a piece of birthday cake. Hopefully you are prepared with another treat, you whip it out and calm down your child. "Here's your treat, now let's go and have fun," you say. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Keep trying--eventually they will calm down and you can carry on.
And that's pretty much the way it goes with food allergies. For those of you who are new to nut and/or other food allergies, it may seem like you have a long way to go to get to where we are now. Stay calm, expect challenges and don't beat yourself up about everything not being perfect. You will get there. If we can, you can.