March 4, 2013

A Food Allergic Kid's First Overnight Camp--Anxiety, Bravery, & Responsibility

Sleep training, weaning, and a slew of uncertain firsts--first day of preschool, first cavity filled, first vaccinations, first fever, first fall, first time being teased or belittled.  Anyone who thinks parenthood is easy has never been a parent.

Our kids go from us being there every step of the way to independence in what seems to be a blink of an eye.
Tristan had his first fashion photo shoot at 10 months old. 
I was there to push him in the swing, and to take him out when he started crying.
It's been a long time since he got all of our undivided attention.
On top of these gut-wrenching rituals into childhood, our kids today deal with much higher expectations than we could've ever imagined when we were little.  At issue in our household: pressure for excellence in schools with curricula that is increasingly demanding, in a pool of students who are exposed to academic learning at earlier ages.  Then, the need to book our children's schedules with enrichment activities to keep them well-rounded.  On top of this, kids need to be able to negotiate the delicate balance of fitting in, which is essential for surviving in school, while keeping the uniqueness that comes from inside them.  Having food allergies means being "unique" is inherent, making kids work even harder to find that balance.

Tristan's love of performing has made him a target of teasing.
Being eight is a difficult business.  Being eight with food allergies and facing your first three-day overnight with 88 other children and a chef you are entrusting your life with seems daunting.  Being the parent of said child is filling me dread.

I pride myself in not being the worrying type.  But third grade has brought with it new challenges that I may not have readied myself for, nor did I adequately prepare my son for.  And I'm worried.

This week, he will be venturing out into the world with another first.  A first that has taken much preparation, physically and emotionally.  His anxiety has rubbed off on me, and mine on his.  For a kid who has always dived into life's challenges, the vulnerability I've seen over recent issues has required us to grow--to be more open, to listen to each other more, and to reassure each other.  Growing has meant rough patches, disagreements, and misunderstandings, but like with any other milestone, after this experience, both of us will come out different people--for the better.  If anything, he'll learn to toughen up and I'll get better at holding back the tears.

Menu planning, lots of emails back and forth, a meeting with his allergist, a teacher training on Epi-pens and anaphylaxis, and lots and lots of worrying has gotten us to this point.  I don't usually ask for much, but this week I'm asking you to please keep our family in your thoughts, especially my brave boy, who will this week take on the greatest responsibility of his life thus far.


  1. Sarah, best of luck to Tristan and you all this week. I will be thinking safe and positive thoughts. I know that you have prepared T and his teachers as best as possible. Big hugs to you!!

  2. lots of love!! You can do it TT!! love you!

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