Thursday, May 2, 2013
Food Allergies and Emotional Damage
I wrote about how I have separation anxiety and how I worry about being away from Bee. I've also blogged about how much I worry. Boy, do I worry and become fearful!
But how do I keep from letting my fears rub off on Bee?
I want Bee to live as normal a life as possible. I want her to have wonderful experiences and learn to be independent and responsible. I want her to be socially well-adjusted. I want her to enjoy childhood, make memories, and develop confidence.
And I worry that I will destroy all of this with my crazy fears!
Did you know that I once saw a piece of cheese in a commercial and I panicked and switched off the TV. Cuz, you know, that cheese was going to jump right out and attack her. Yes, the food allergies have made me crazy!
And I saw a food allergy crazy kid once. He was in a nut free classroom and the snack was served. It was No Bake cookies that were safe for him and for Bee as well. He took one bite of the cookie, flipped out, threw himself on the floor, started crying, and screamed that there were nuts in the cookies. It took his mom 15 minutes to calm him. He was extremely tightly wound. And this child was 3! Imagine what he'll be like as he gets older!
I want Bee to be aware of her allergies and understand the severity. She must learn to be careful and know her limits. But I want her to enjoy, to smile, to play, and to have fun. I don't want her life to be dictated by what she can't do and what she can't eat. I don't want her to be emotionally damaged by the fear of life with food allergies.
Amazingly, Bee handles her situation very well. She knows not to eat food from anyone. She knows to have her medicine close by. She understands to come to me when she isn't feeling well. How is my child remotely normal and not completely neurotic??
We've talked with Bee and our other children over and over again. We explain the allergies, we talk about how to be safe, we caution them against eating anything that isn't from us, and we remind them about the medicines we have on hand. But then we focus on the things we can do, the foods we can eat, and the places we can go. I try to point out all the experiences we've had despite our food allergies. I focus on the positives.
In refusing to let fear dictate our daily life, I've noticed that Bee is confident, socially well-adjusted, funny, loving, compassionate, and responsible. She handles her situation beautifully. She doesn't look at what she can't do, but throws herself into everything that she can safely do. She's proud of her food options and she's excited to try new foods. She also sweetly shares her foods with others.
The other day she told me, "Mom, sometimes I'm itchy, but I'm the allergy girl." She just accepts it and she moves on. She doesn't even complain and her differences don't lower her self-esteem. When I'm tempted to be frustrated or completely discouraged by our challenges, I think about how Bee handles her situation. She's matter-of-fact and positive. She has a lot to teach us.