Another Safe Halloween
Halloween is a very scary holiday, right? It is even scarier to us. I love to see my kids dressed up. I love to see them participating in costume contests, parties, everything Halloween. Since I was little, I have loved to decorate. I love to pick costumes. I love the hype. I love the candy! Then I had a child who has a fatal allergy to nuts, and I love her more than all this. Nine years ago, Halloween changed.
What used to be all fun with no worries is now what I consider a “high stress” situation our life. My daughter is nine years old and we have very strict rules we follow to keep her safe.
We go trick-or-treating like anyone else does. My daughter knows she is not allowed to touch anything. It goes right into her bucket. This part isn’t so bad. I know she isn’t touching anything and either I or my husband goes with her to watch out, to make sure. We always have an EpiPen in our pockets, just in case. Then we get home and our family ritual starts.
Since I found out about her allergy, I never wanted my daughter to think she was being “cheated” out of anything life has to offer, so I knew I needed to make a plan to ensure that she didn’t feel that way. Every Halloween, when we get home, we empty the candy into a big pile on the floor. We go through the pile and pull out the obvious offending candies we know without a doubt she can’t have. Then we pull out the “no label, no confirmation” candies that we can’t be sure about. Here is where the “normal life” part comes in. In the past we have devised a “We pay you for your candy” rule. In order to allow her to not feel cheated, we pay her for each candy she gives up. Now I know we do this because of her allergy, but I feel it’s a great idea to other parents if you just want to get rid of some of the candy. We give her a certain amount for every candy she gives up so she can go buy something afterward. It’s like she is “selling” us her candy, not just giving it up because she can’t have it. We also enforce this rule with our son, although he has no nut allergies. He happily obliges because he doesn’t want any candy that could hurt his sister.
Tonight my daughter impressed me with a new idea she had. “The Trade.” I wish everyone could have seen this. We went to a party after our trick-or-treating festivities were over and there were five kids with huge bags of candy. All was dumped on the floor and a “trade” station was soon set up. My daughter decided to trade her non-safe candies with nut-free candies she knew she could have (our supervision was prevalent of course). It was so neat to see her little mind working. This year she created a little trading business all on her own and I was so proud of her.
As I tucked her into bed tonight, (after her brushing teeth of course, ha ha!) I told her how proud of her I was that she made up this idea to make sure she was safe. She said “Mom, it was funny because I looked at some of the candy I knew I couldn’t have and told my friends that I would give them this for free! I didn’t want to even touch it!” She is nine years old, almost ten, and she gets it. She really gets it. She knows that she can die if she eats something as simple as a piece of chocolate that was made on machinery, or processed with, or contains nuts. She gets it.
A friend of mine said that she had bought candy for her daughter’s Halloween class school party. Then she got a note sent home that said one of the students in her daughter’s class had a nut allergy so my friend went out and bought all non-food, safe items. (Thanks Jess!) I can’t even tell you how much that means to me. As a mom with a child with life threatening allergies, I appreciate that. I love that. I know to some it seems like a xoxoxopain to have to conform to regulations, but if it were your child, wouldn’t you hope that every parent understood? Wouldn’t you hope that every parent knew just for a minute what it would be like to lose your child to a nut? Thank you, to every parent out there who has called me, checked in with the teacher, cared enough about my daughter to change a menu to allow her to participate? Thank you!
Here’s to another safe Halloween. We are so happy we have made it through nine Halloweens. The future is bright and allthough we have challenges, we are loved, we are regulated, we are safe. That makes all the difference.
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