We have recently been attending family events where there have been numerous plates of food and treats set out for consumption, enjoyment, and comfort; little sandwiches, veggies, and delicious treats for everyone to enjoy.
And while everyone else is enjoying them my husband and I are panicking.
We are watching our daughter with our breath held, trying not to make a scene, but ensuring her little hands stay back and she only eats what we give her.
We are asking questions of the hosts, who sometimes aren’t sure if there are peanuts or other allergens in the foods they’ve set out, and we try not to burden the guests.
While many families are digging in, enjoying the party, tasting the good food, and talking amongst friends we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
We are wondering if the counter was washed before the food was prepared, if there is peanut or traces of nut in any of the foods, if anyone ate peanut butter or nuts before they came, or if anyone forgot that our daughter has an allergy.
While the children play and giggle we sit near her, watching, to make sure her little friends don’t touch something contaminated and then touch her, we carefully scan the room to make sure she isn’t going to find something on another table, and we watch her skin for redness and swelling.
It’s become routine.
But never easy.
While other children ask to have a bite of something, or for more food, our daughter asks what the contents are, if it has peanuts, and understands that she can’t share food. But she’s only 3, she makes mistakes, she forgets, and she doesn’t understand the severity of her allergy.
But we also know that through education, advocating, and the support of family and friends we are that much closer to her being safe.
She’ll never be free of her allergy but she will be raised with the tools that will keep her safe and that will give her the ability to fully understand her allergy.
We will continue to advocate for her and surround her with our protection while we visit family and friends, ask questions, and teach her to educate on behalf of herself. We will go through her childhood watching for signs of a reaction while she plays and has fun and we will hold our breath until we are back safely in our home.
Not because we don’t trust but because the risk is too great.
Behind the scenes we will scatter; hearts pounding and minds racing. While other families are free to visit, munch, and enjoy each other we will forever worry about our daughters food, environment, and everything she touches.
We will over-protect, over-watch, and ask too many questions if we have to.
Because this is our child.
And that is more important than a cheese platter and a well laid out buffet.