Friday, September 7, 2012

Can I please get a warning?

Food allergies are such an inconvenience.  That's such an understatement, right?

Our church has been so accommodating and everyone is so willing to learn about our allergies and they want to work with us.  It's such a blessing for them to reach out and make us feel a part of the activities.

But sometimes there are things that I'm just not prepared for.  I didn't get advance notice-either I forgot to ask (I should always, always, always ask), or I should have assumed differently (or not really assumed at all), or maybe the food allergy thing slipped their minds (it's easy for that to happen to others I've learned).

I really wish I could get a warning about every activity-just a simple heads up about what is involved and what food will be served.

For instance, we recently had a church function to sign up for a new year of an activity.  We walked in to a room full of parents filling our forms and children running around with popcorn and cookies.  Not good!  Little children with popcorn-smeared and cookie-crumble hands are very dangerous.  I promptly sent Prince Charming right back outside with the kids while I did our paperwork.  Oops!  I needed a food warning on that one-thankfully it was an easy fix.

I also had a surprise one morning in Sunday school when another allergy mom sailed into our classroom looking for an allergy free snack for her daughter.  I thought that they didn't do snacks in the older Sunday school classes so I was lost.  She explained to me that snacks weren't usually served unless they were having movie week, during which the kids were given popcorn in the theater while they watched a short video.  No one told me about that either!  So, poor Curly was sitting in a theater afraid to eat the popcorn that everyone around her was eating.  I joined the other mom in the hall and we dashed downstairs to find Rice Chex to bring to our girls.  I never knew there were movie weeks!

So, always ask-even when you're tired of asking and everyone is tired of being asked.  Just ask if there's food.  You'll feel like a broken record but it's just worth it to ask.  It saves so much stress and headache later.

And just don't assume.  Don't assume there will be food or there won't be food.  Just bring something safe and have a backup plan in case you do need to leave early.  And don't ever assume that someone else is remembering the food allergies.  Remind them, mention the allergies, ask questions, remind them again, and then talk about the allergies some more.  Never assume anyone will ever be as vigilant as you are.

Be assured that others will forget.  They don't deal with it on a daily basis.  They don't live it.  They can't fully comprehend the allergies and the important safety measures.  Plan ahead because at some point there will be a mix-up, you will not be notified, or something will have changed and you will need to be ready to advocate for your child or even remove him/her from a situation.  So, at times you may need to start over from the beginning and go through all the allergy information again and again and again.  Expect that and be gracious as you continue to remind.

Events don't come pre-labeled with warning stickers.  That would be so nice!  Instead, that's my job-to always be informed and prepared.  Who needs sleep?  I have safe snacks to make, people to call, emails to write, questions to ask, and events to plan for.....

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