It’s not always easy to figure out the best way to approach new situations whether you’re the parent of a food allergic child or not. That said, if you are the parent of a food allergic child, as new situations and experiences arise we sometimes need to get creative to find a solution that works.
“You’re incredible, how are you always able to attend all school excursions?” We could have launched into the long and extended version of why and how but typically decided to spare the enquirer and ourselves a lengthy explanation, stating instead a well-rehearsed response. “I’m lucky, I work for myself, and so have flexible work hours“. Flexible being the operative word! The reality looked something more like having to work well into the night on a current project to achieve agreed finish deadlines and expectations. This was our choice and one that we were really happy to have made despite the late nights and dark circles! It is also our version of normal so not incredible but just doing the best possible to suit our needs. Sometimes the alternative for Seb, Isa and Mich was either not attending or not being included in the activity. Not much of a choice really. We all want our children to feel involved in any school activity and to have the opportunity to experience whatever is being offered to fellow class mates. When ‘we’ started primary school there were three students required to always have two EpiPens on hand to use in the event of an emergency and a relatively short seven years later when graduating, there were twenty four students listed as having food anaphylaxis. A staggering increase by any standards and no wonder there was now an increased awareness!
Thankfully a lot changed during the last few years of primary school. As the incidence of food anaphylaxis increased, so too has the awareness of the general public. Teachers, school administrators and parents (for the most part) are more responsive, have developed a keener understanding and have more respect for individual needs. Everyone wants to belong and feel safe and accepted. That shouldn’t be such a big ask! Our children’s food anaphylaxis kind of lent a ‘legitimacy’ to us attending school excursions. Granted, we would much rather not have food anaphylaxis in our lives but it has given us the chance to share so much more than we might have done without food allergies and we now think that’s pretty incredible.
We would also love to hear your stories of ‘incredible’ and how you make it work for your family…