A Walk in the Park

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.


ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

That's awesome that you children knew to stay away from the peanut. You are clearly doing a great job of educating them:) I'm sorry they were there in the first place. We seem to find nuts in the darndest places. It's so stressful.

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GeonHui's Bakery said...

Thanks for this story. How great that he knew to stay away! I was just thinking recently,our son is two and this summer we will probably be out and about encountering peanuts in different situations like this. I guess you prepare as best as possible huh? Not fun.

Mamique said...

I'm starting to realize that it's not the allergies themselves that are scary, or even the reactions for that matter, it's the world we live in. There are just so many possibilities for accidental exposures that it makes my head hurt sometimes. It doesn't help that I'm an over-analyzer, too, lol.

It's fantastic that your son was able to recognize the danger at such a young age. It's a testament to what a great job you're doing!

Libby said...

Janeen, you're not wrong about the stress! My son was calmer than me, very matter of fact about it.

linds, good luck this summer! It's so hard when they are young and want to touch and taste everything.

mamique, thanks for the support. I over analyze, too. You should have seen me when I saw a Reese's wrapper on the ground and realized I had to teach The Kid NOT to pick up trash outside!

Nicole said...

This post has so much irony in it. Here the park people are posting signs to what they think is the most hazardous substance at their park, yet the chances of your child being hurt (or even seen) by an alligator are slim to the chances of your child being harmed by a hazardous food! Crazy! I do think we are getting there though...do they have rules at your sons school with kids not being able to bring any peanuts or peanut butter sandwiches? They do here, and I bet it will only be time before they start those precautions everywhere. Even though my son isn't allergic to peanuts, I still think we need to be protecting the kids who do. I feel the same way with my sons allergies too though...I feel like I can't leave him anywhere by himself. What tips do you have on educating them to be cautious. What are the games you would play at the grocery store?

Libby said...

Hi Nicole! I only wish that the alligators weren't a real danger... to make it worse, my son is fascinated by the things. We've seen them at this park on banks several times and they are pretty much guaranteed to be in the water.
Thanks for asking about our grocery games. I'll definitely put up a post on that sometime soon. :o)