I love ice cream. I could eat it in some form every day of the year. In a dish, in a cone, smothered with hot fudge sauce or in a milkshake – it’s all good. I’ve thought of little besides ice cream for the last few days. While everyone seems to be bragging on Facebook about taking their kids to Dairy Queen or out for a milkshake, we are left with ice water. Why? Because of food allergies. Stupid food allergies.
I know that dealing with food allergies has helped us all understand that you can’t tell what a person deals with by looking at them. It helps my kids understand the need for all of us to belong and they have super-empathy for kids that are excluded for whatever reason. It helps us make educated choices about what we eat because we have to read EVERY label on EVERY food EVERY time (if you don’t believe me – we’ve found bagged lettuce that has been contaminated with allergens). It helps us plan ahead when we travel and be prepared for anything because we can’t just pull the car over anywhere to eat. Maybe it makes us better people overall but right now I don’t really care about any of that. I just want a milkshake.
At the end of the day, we are a super happy family that lives 90% of the time without having to think about allergies. We can’t have a dog. We can’t eat many things. But we keep those things out of the house so they are out of mind as often as possible. It does not get easier with time. Telling your thirteen year old that he can never have a dog is harder than it was when he was five. Seeing your fifteen year old walk by the ‘free lunch’ line at a competition because he can’t safely eat anything there still sucks. But occasionally someone does something outstanding. Like the Dad at band that took my kids out for a treat that they COULD have when he saw them not eating what was provided. He almost erased my memories of my ‘friend’ that came over with food saying, “I know you guys can’t eat this but I thought I’d bring it over for my kids”. Yah thanks.
The people that make sure that my kids are included, the ones that don’t go on and on about their kid’s Dairy Queen cake, and especially the ones that make a cake that my kids can share in – these people make my day. Because giving my kid a banana while everyone else eats cake just doesn’t cut it. I’ve met many parents that refuse to say no to their children. What they don’t understand is that I have to say no to my kids all the time, just to save their lives. Now that our kids are teenagers I am so super proud of them for not being afraid to say no when they don’t trust something (or someone!). They stand up for themselves, for each other, and for others. They’re amazing human beings.
I still want ice cream. Really, really, badly. But if my kids can’t share it with me, I don’t want it. I’d rather share my life with them than anyone else. I can eat ice cream later.