Friday, May 17, 2013

Etiquette and Food Allergies

Last week I was very sick with some type of virus.  I have no idea what exactly was going on.  I had fever/chills/muscle aches/sore throat/total exhaustion/coughing.  I spent several days on the couch or in bed.  The day I started to feel a little better I lost my voice.  For 4 days, I croaked and whispered and tried to talk.  When you have 5 small kids, you really really need your voice.

Ohh, and during this time we were finishing up paperwork for our new house and working with the landlords of our current rental.  Lots of phone calls (hard to make with no voice) and lots of emails with papers to sign.

Let's just say it was a totally crazy, crazy week!

On Thursday, I spent the day in my jammies (and my kids did too).  We played around the house, watched movies, ate snacks, and did puzzles.  It was a quiet day.  During our quiet afternoon the door bell rang.  I grabbed Punkin and headed downstairs to peek out the door.  There was a woman standing on our porch with something shiny in her hands.  She was also knocking on the door.  I had no choice but open the door (or let her wake up Ladybug).

It was my neighbor.  A neighbor I've never really met before.  She had in her arms a large foil casserole dish with a note taped to the top.  She explained that her church had been encouraging members to focus on blessing and reaching out to others.  That week the challenge was to bless her neighbor.  She chose me.

I thanked her profusely and chatted with her for a minute before I headed back inside.  When I shut the door I looked down at my drooling Punkin in my arms.  I was wearing my stained and spit-up covered tank top, dirty pj pants, and sporting hair that had not been washed that day.  I didn't have one bit of makeup on and my entry way was full of boxes and tubs that were being packed up.

I looked like a sleep-deprived, disorganized, mom of 5 little people.  Now, I know that's exactly what I am, but I sure don't like to look like it!  I looked absolutely awful.

I put the casserole dish on my counter with a huge feeling of guilt washing over me.  Here is my sweet neighbor who doesn't know me except by sight (she's seen me wrangling all 5 kids on our walks around the block) and she brought me dinner.  She has no idea that we can't eat that dinner.

What do you do in this situation?????

Here's my food allergy etiquette advice.

Talk about food allergies as much as possible with those that know you.  The ones who do know your family will know about your allergies and will be aware of your limitations.

For those who don't know you, you have to decide if it's an appropriate time to educate them or to just smile and move on.  You can take a break from the soapbox once in a while.

There are times to educate about the allergies and there are times to just say thank you and keep going.  I chose the latter with my neighbor.  I'm not going to see her much as we are moving in a few weeks.  She would have had no way of knowing about the allergies and she won't be cooking for us again (at least I doubt it) so it's not important for her to have our allergy list.

But I sure felt guilty with a giant cheesy lasagna on my counter.  There was no way I could throw her homemade lasagna in the trash!  So, I called some friends and chose to give it away to another family and pass the blessing on.  Her thoughtfulness blessed us and her food can bless another family.

I sent Prince Charming over the next day with a card the kids drew for her.  He brought along Ladybug (who can't talk) to tell her thank you.  We decided not to mention the fact that we weren't the ones who enjoyed the lasagna.

Food allergies sure put us in awkward situations!  How do you take food into your house that has some deadly ingredients?  How do you know when to explain about the allergies and when to let it go?  What do you do in a situation when others try to bring you food?

Refusing food can make you seem ungrateful and taking food that you cannot eat will make you feel guilty (and can pose a safety hazard).  It's a no-win situation! 

I need a food allergy etiquette guide!


AnnaPK said...

I was wishing for an FA etiquette book just last night! We were at my older daughter's t-ball game, which was a weekday evening at dinner time. I totally understand the mass food that everyone was eating in the bleachers. The woman just down from us pulled out an entire block of cheese and started cutting it up and giving it to her 2 little girls. These 2 girls are around the same age as my LO who has the FAs, dairy is one of his worst ones. He gets terrible hives if he even contacts dairy residue. My problem was do I explain to the woman (who is not someone I particularly care for anyway) why I now won't let my kid near her kids or do i just subtlety try to keep him busy with something else so he doesn't want to play with them? I went the subtle way but, as you can tell, I am still questioning if that was the right way to handle it. I am so glad to read your take on a similar situation!

Lexi said...

It is so hard to decide what to do sometimes!
In some situations, I do speak up! Other times, I just let it slide and I don't feel up to the discussion or the battle.
It's never fun!

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