The buzz of food allergies is swarming with misconceptions and myths, but one fact that can’t be denied is that their prevalence is vastly increasing. Becoming a parent throws all sorts of curve-balls your way that you never see coming, and severe food allergies are obstacles that more and more parents are navigating these days.
Here are four things we need folks to know as we (and our littles) are adjusting to this unsteady territory:
1) We’re in a constant state of heightened alertness.
Yes. All parents must always be on alert. But this awareness goes beyond listening for the pitter-patter of our child’s feet or being comforted by the sound of their nearby voice.
If we’re in the middle of a conversation and we seem distant, we really are sorry. We’re listening, we swear. But one of our eyes is scanning the floor for stray M&M’s that may be dropped by other children, and the other eye is following the boy with the sippy-cup of milk to make sure he doesn’t suddenly get the desire to share when our kid reaches for it.
We’ve memorized everything that everyone in the surrounding area has just eaten, so that when Aunt Sally—who just downed a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups—tries to kiss our toddler goodbye, we can begin strategic evasive maneuvers.
We’re constantly teetering that line between caution and paranoia. We don’t like hanging out there; it’s a scary place to be; and comes across as a little obsessive to those who aren’t living in it. But with severe food allergies, a seemingly normal situation can turn deadly in the blink of an eye, and we’re always afraid to let ourselves get too comfortable.