Living in Florida, there are certain dangers that we expect and prepare our child to avoid. As the parents of a food allergic child, we also teach him to avoid substances that are harmless to others, but are as deadly as an alligator to him. The Kid and I went to our favorite park to play and maybe see some wild animals (last time we saw and HEARD some great blue herons mating in a tree) and instead had an unexpected scare.
We went on a nature trail that we hadn't been on before, found a great view of the lake, took some pictures, and prepared to sit down and drink some juice. The Kid started to clamber up onto the bench, then stopped and backed away. I looked over and saw a round object in a wet spot. "What's that?" I asked casually. The Kid replied, "A peanut."
I looked more closely. It really was, and my son had spotted it before I did. I wiped off the wet spot on his arm with a baby wipe, double checked the epi-pens in the backpack, and we went in search of another bench.
We followed the boardwalk deeper into the marsh, until we got to the next bench. It was surrounded by peanut shells and fearless squirrels. This time we just turned around and went back.The incident left me with mixed feelings. I know it's irrational to expect a world that eats peanuts to clean up after itself for the sake my allergic child, but that doesn't stop my anger at the lack of consideration at a park where children play. I'm also very proud and hopeful that he's demonstrating an ability to navigate a dangerous world. It's so much to expect of a four year old, but he saw the peanut, correctly identified it, and backed calmly away. All the talks, the flashcards, the quizzes in the grocery store; all the craziness that he thinks is normal and I know is not; it all paid off at the park.