There are many words that strike fear into the hearts of food allergy parents. “School” was a big one when we started out. “Class Party,” that was a doozy! After-school activities, dances, clubs, middle school. You get the point, and I’m sure you can add to the list. Transitions are always difficult for any parent. When a kid has something a little extra to manage, those transitions involve a few extra steps. I want to emphasize this: they ARE all manageable, and while you may need to change your expectations, we do what we have to.
There is one word that, as of late, has been sticking in the back of my head, nagging me here and there.
As in, not with anyone. No parent. No teacher. No advisor. No friend.
When they are capable of being “alone” is as varied as the kid. A quick trip to the store versus a night out on the town, big difference. There are some very mature 9-year-olds, and others who you wouldn’t trust with a spoon! I’m sure every family has some general guidelines for what works for them, and I’ve talked to many friends about this. I tend to be (in general) a pretty anxious person. I follow the rules. My kids were/are in car seats well past when they “could” be done with them, so my gauge is not the same as many.
Where does that leave me, then? When will I ever be able to leave my kids alone and be comfortable with it? In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of being 100% happy with TealKid being alone. Medical emergencies can happen at any time. I fully understand that, and it goes for ANY person, food allergies or not. The thing is, one of his tells of a reaction coming on is the total and complete lack of communication and look of terror in his eyes. Will he freeze up? Will he be able to administer epi to himself and call for help? Truth is, I had a hard time making that call when he had the reaction that sent him to the ER.
I’ve tried to start following his lead on things. I try to remind him that his comfort level and mine may not always match up, and that we really need to work together to get into the groove of things. Just as he is experiencing things for the first time, I am too, on my end of the parent/child thing. We are a work in progress. As I’ve mentioned, I have started to shift things onto him now with school, clubs and the like. He’s doing a much better job at doing things for himself on his own than I am at letting him. It’s a situation that I’m sure he won’t understand until he’s a parent (should that be the path he chooses). That whole “having your heart walk around outside of your body” thing.
What have you done toward making the transition to letting them be alone? What’s helped make that move toward more independence for your kiddo, food allergy or not? I would love to hear from you anything that’s helped you (both) manage moving forward and accepting that alone is going to happen.