Baked on the Bright Side

Am I ready to send my kindergarten child with food allergies to school? by Guest Blogger, Daniella Knell

September 7, 2011

Just got back from a weekend getaway which was much needed by all! Myself included. Am I the only one who has difficulty unplugging from it all? No phones, computers, texting… well, maybe a DVD player. And two movies… ONLY two. As much as we love to travel, I’m a strong believer in being prepared for the unexpected. Travel time can be one of those questionable events.

3 1/2 hours later, we began settling in for our weekend retreat. As usual, we picked a spot far from the others. Pine trees… aspen trees… squirrels chattering and a perfect treeline for the sun to pass over. Facing East in our campsite. Perfect.

Hour one. BORED. The kids didn’t have any of their usual escapes handy. It appears they need time to decompress just as much as we do. An hour later, they were catching Swallowtail and Skipper butterflies with nets and bare hands, wearing out their new puppy (a hypoallergenic, absolutely adorable Cairn Terrier), and happily discovering a hidden path to our own private fishing hole. Double perfection.

I needed this retreat more than I realized. The past few weeks had been incredibly busy. Family for 10 days and preparation in the middle of it all for my second national telephone workshop with Kristin Beltaos, owner of A Gift of Miles. We focused on heading back to school with food allergies. In the midst of it all, I realized how much more I needed to better prepare myself, my son and the people who would now be taking care of him on a daily basis. Prep for my daughter’s allergies had been a cake walk. My son’s allergies can be life-threatening. This was a bit different. Or was it?

What better way to truly enjoy your family than to remove yourself from the daily chaos of all other distractions. I heard squirrels chattering early in the morning. The stream lulled me to sleep. We could see the Big Dipper clearly by the full moon. We told stories and caught up on personal details we had missed sharing. We went to bed way too late and slept in. And I slowed down. Finally.

Having children with food allergies can be overwhelming if one lets it be. But here we were, in the mountains far away if something happened. I had benadryl and epipens. I had packed all of our safe food favorites. We even had S’mores… OHHH, what a treat by the fire! Nothing could happen.

Well, it did. For some reason, in my son’s silliness, he picked up my cup and drank from it. I had some cow’s milk in it. I know what you may be thinking. Why did I have it there? Both my husband and I and our kids share a very strong sense of being careful with food. My son NEVER drinks out of anyone else’s cup. He is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, some fish, bananas, avocados and kiwi. For those items he is anaphylactic to, we don’t have them around him at all. Milk is not one of those items.

We told him to stop… he did… spit it out and quickly sat down. SCARED. He knows what anaphylaxis is and how it starts. Fortunately, I also know that his reactions to dairy are mild. I grabbed the supplies and we waited. His mouth got itchy and he cried. He took some benadryl. He and I sat calmly together as dad told funny stories and made us all laugh. Dad’s humor and distractions were right on target this time. Thankfully, he was okay.

Am I really ready to send him off to kindergarten? I think so. We can’t stop him from growing up. We can’t always protect him. We can only guide him on awareness and making good choices. We don’t want him to be ‘the Boy in the bubble’ and excluded because his choices may need to be different.

Having food allergies doesn’t have to stop one from living. It may be a gift in that it may cause one to pause more and make more cautious choices. Not such a bad thing. I should have been more careful with my cup of milk. He shouldn’t have drank from something that wasn’t his. I believe that everything happens for a reason. This situation reminded us both to remember to be more cautious. And it reminded me that IF something does happen, I will know what to do.

I can’t live my life worrying about WHAT IF something happens. It makes me crazy when I do it when I do. I try to live my life knowing that IF the WHAT IF happens, will I or my children know what to do.

And, we all do.

Yes, I am ready to send him off to kindergarten with new caretakers. Almost.

Did I tell you who wanted to stay an extra day up in the mountains, miles away from it all? We all did.

Here’s to an allergy family who inspires me every day to continue evolving to be the best person I can be.

Daniella Knell is the owner of Smart Allergy~Friendly Education.  As an allergy awareness educator and consultant, her passion is raising awareness on allergy and product education.  She offers classes to children and adults, one-on-one consulting and presents national telephone workshops for those managing life with food allergies and dietary restrictions.  Her blog is or you can find her on facebook and linked in: or

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