My place to brag about kids, homeschooling, and our journey.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Necessary Enemy: Food Allergies

Most people see food as a necessity, a pleasure, or a chore, or some combination of all three.  A necessity to live, a pleasure when it's good, or a chore to shop for and prep. Then there are some, like me, who see it as an opponent.  A sneaky, insidious enemy who has honed the art of ambush and attacks when least expected.  One that can kill if not carefully sought out and countered.

Why the drama over something as seemingly simple as food?  When you've seen your firstborn start slipping into a severe allergic reaction, your vision of food as an innocent necessity changes very quickly.  In the blink of an eye, as a matter of fact.  The blink of a confused, swollen eye looking at you from the hive-covered face of a little boy who has no idea what's going on.  Or what could happen to him if you don't think and act correctly at that very moment. 

Then comes the realization that not all of food's parries are as dramatic as that experience.  That a food sensitivity, while not a life-threatening allergy, can wreck almost as much havoc with your life and your children's lives.  And so you embark on an entirely new journey, not trusting any food yet required to prepare it daily.  You have no choice but to hope that each morsel you feed your children is really free of gluten, or dairy, or nuts, or soy, or, or, or......  And mistakes happen sometimes.  You overlook an ingredient, misread a label, or just plain forget to check.  So you weather them and their consequences as best you can and trudge on, vowing to not ever do it again.  The worst ones are the ones that happen despite doing everything.  The ones that comes from ambiguous labeling like "natural flavors", or even simply from cross-contamination you are completely unaware of.  The ones that come from a restaurant where the kitchen is too busy for the chef to really make sure your meal is actually safe to eat.

So you do your best, on some level hesitant and wary of every meal.  And hope that the next mistake isn't one with permanent consequences.