Halloween in July

I can't keep my child in a bubble.

Some days I wish I could just keep him at home and wrap myself around him, standing permanent guard against a poisonous world.  Unfortunately, I can't think of a more surefire method of guaranteeing a truly dangerous teenage rebellion against our food allergy safety net, while leaving my son incapable of managing his own medical condition as an adult.

So we take baby steps.  The Kid has gradually been integrated into the lunchroom at school.  He started out with an aide assigned to him at lunchtime, now he simply has a dedicated location which is washed before his arrival.

He knows not to eat another child's food.  The Kid is six years old now, and he absorbed that lesson while learning his very first words.  He hasn't had a reaction from anything he's eaten for two years, and he understands the bright line dividing his food from everyone else's.

Contact reactions, the stealth attacks of the food allergen, are a more insidious problem.  During the past school year, I had three or four calls from the nurse, usually immediately after recess with its constant collisions into playground equipment and other children, "The Kid has broken out in hives on his hands/arms/face.  I washed the area and gave him Benadryl, would you like to come pick him up?"

Sometimes we are able to trace the source of the contact reaction.  On one occasion, a friend had eaten egg at lunchtime, but hadn't washed his hands before heading to the playground.  When we talked afterward, The Kid wailed, "But I didn't touch his lunch!"  He'd followed the rules, and just didn't understand why it had happened.

Another memorable reaction happened after my mom had eaten a meal with fake crab meat in it, then kissed my son's face and blew raspberries all over his neck.  Since then he makes a point of asking Nana if she's washed her hands and face when she comes over.  To her credit, she takes his question very seriously.

Short of locking The Kid up, "Constant vigilance!" is our only option, as Mad-Eye Moody would say.  It's still not enough.

Recently we were at the home of The Kid's best friend.  His mom is a good friend, a far better housekeeper than I am, and one of the few adults I trust with my child.  It's generally one of the safest places for him to play.  The boys were rummaging around in a box of Halloween costumes and dressed themselves up as Buzz Lightyear and Woody.  They were adorable.  The Kid had put on Woody's hat and vest, but did not have a shirt underneath it.

The costumes stayed on for maybe twenty minutes, then came off in favor of another game.  That's when we found the ugly blister like hives on The Kid's back.  I couldn't believe it:  a contact reaction, most likely from candy, on a Halloween costume nine months later.  I threw the Kid in the bathtub, dosed him up with Benadryl, and took him home.

In the unlikely event I've never mentioned it before on this blog, food allergies really suck.


Lori said...

Wow, I can't even imagine. Not sure if I've ever commented here before or not, but I started subscribing a while ago to your blog when we found out my niece had LOTS of allergies... then about 3 months ago discovered one of my girls has allergies to milk, egg, peanut & bananas ~ but not THAT severe! As frazzled as I have been trying to keep milk products & egg out of my child's diet - I can't even imagine trying to keep her out of things you can't see and don't know are there. Thanks for giving me a little perspective.

ZM said...


Very high suckage factor on the allergies. With a delicate sprinkle of wtf, when things like the Halloween costume happen.


Mamma Sarah said...

And this is why I am so serious with anyone who is around with my kids including an entire daycare staff. They think I'm kidding... Just another reason that I'm super nervous about my kids that will be headed off to school in the next couple of years and why I don't want them at any other daycare center than the one I work at. UGH!

Margot said...

Oh, I'm sooo sorry to hear that. I hope your son is feeling much better now.
My daughter is allergic too, but to dust mites what make me clean her room extra often, no toys or fabrics that can't wash are allowed in her bedroom... Sometimes even washing plush toys does not help so those that sleep in her bed must be new ones. I need to give her also inhaler before bedtime. We got into routine now but on the beginning wasn't so easy.

Anonymous said...

This is from Nana, I had washed my hands and face. I had not rinsed out my mouth when I kissed the kids neck and gave him the reaction. I think this is important to note since it is an added precaution that needs to be taken. Needless to say, I felt very guilty.

Amy said...

Hi, thanks for your comment yesterday and I love your blog! In particular, your Lunchboxes section.

I'm not dealing with food allergies myself, but some of my readers are and I'll point them this way in the future. :)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I knew your son was allergic, but this must be a nightmare to deal with on a daily basis.
Have to hand it to you, and especially to your son. It can't be easy for a child to cope with.