I am living in a food allergy world and I am a food allergy girl.
Mac is allergic to just about anything good and yummy to eat. In fact, he's pretty much a vegan by allergy. He's allergic to dairy, soy, almonds (random!) and meat. Yes. Meat. I didn't even know you could be allergic to meat until his specialists told me he was allergic to it.
Thankfully, Mac's allergies are not life threatening in small doses. It causes excema and some unfortunate diarrhea. When he's 15 he's going to love that I tell everyone this. One day when he chooses to eat cheesy pizza, his sister will announce in front of all his friends, "Mac, you know you shouldn't eat that. You'll have diarrhea for days!" He'll be humiliated on top of his allergy issues. Maybe that will be enough to keep him away from those foods if he doesn't grow out of them.
But what gets me is the people who aren't aware that we live in an food-allergy world. I used to think all the food allergies were foolishness, but I quickly changed my tune when Mac came up allergic. I never give a child any food without checking with the parent first (ie: sharing snacks at the park). Even at McDonald's, my mom once started to give a little girl a french fry without asking her dad. I stopped her.
Me: "Mom, you don't know if she can have that."
Mom: "Why would she be at McDonald's if she can't have fries?"
Me: "Mac can't eat hamburgers and he's here."
Mom: "Oh. Right."
Always check before feeding other people's kids!
Not long ago we were at a popular fast food place for a Mommy & Me morning. We like to do this and then stay for lunch. It's a nice way to spend the morning. But when you get there at 9:30 and lunch isn't until 11:30 the kids can get a little peckish.
One mom, whom we will call Cheesy Mom, was happily feeding her kid goldfish crackers. Which is fine and dandy for them and I, Allergy Mom, admit to looking at those cheddar-laden fish with longing in my eyes, but since Mac can't have them we don't eat them (when he's around). But Cheesy Mom looks at Mac's hungry stares and gives him a handful of swimming cheese snacks.
There's nothing like running in seemingly slow motion toward your child as he raises an allergy-laden food toward his mouth as if it's edible gold and he must ingest as much as possible before you get to him because he knows he's not supposed to have it. As you get closer, you stretch out your arm, willing your fingertips to extend that extra millimeter so you can swipe the offending food away from your child's lips before they make contact.
Cheesy Mom looks at Allergy Mom in horror. Mac starts to cry. Sweat pouring from her brow and her heart still caught in her throat Allergy Mom breathlessly proclaims, "He's allergic to dairy!" (note: small details in the retelling may be embellished for the viewing audience)
Cheesy Mom stares down Allergy Mom as if she's not sure she believes this to be actual truth. But a second later Cheesy Mom gasps in horror as she realizes he faux paux. She apologizes profusely. Allergy Mom tries to brush it off because she realizes she's overreacting a teensy bit and says, "It's okay, but please check with parents before you give kids you don't know any food."
Just another person enlightened by Allergy Mom. Saving allergic kids one food at a time.
(And in all seriousness, please don't give any food to kids you don't know. It's kinda like zoo animals. Allergies are everywhere these days and it's not worth the risk, even if you think it's ridiculous. I used to think it was silly too until I had an allergic kid. A simple heads up to mom, "Is this okay?" will give you the green light to share or the red light to not. You will not offend moms of allergic kids, they will be grateful you took the time to ask.)