We had a “successful” Fun Day at preschool on Sunday. We are learning to re-define some key terms in our life. Successful would once have meant picking the best prize in the lucky dip, or winning first prize in the raffle. Successful on this occasion means NO ALLERGIC REACTIONS.
Last year, I didn’t feel comfortable taking the kids to an Easter Fun Day, where there was a sausage sizzle and an Easter Egg hunt. I went, to witness how it all worked, and to show my support as I am on the committee. I saw how they organised the food and activities. Invaluable information.
Armed with this knowledge, this year, I worked with the Fun Day coordinator, to make all the kids food, drinks and ice blocks safe. Our kids know that we do not eat sausages from a sausage sizzle, so Declan didn’t even ask if he could have one. Bianca, well, she was a little unimpressed. Even though we knew the sausages were safe, we didn’t want to confuse them with it being “ok to eat them sometimes, and not at other times”. Consistency is a good thing. The kids know that they can have bread from a packet where we can check the ingredients, just like the margarine and sauce. So this is what they nibbled on. This was followed by ice blocks, where they saw us check the ingredients on the box.
A magic show followed the food. All the kids were enthralled. Cakes were put on a table outside for the adults to eat. Of course this made us uneasy, but they were for the adults. Declan was summoned onto the stage to be involved in a few tricks and ended up holding a bunny for all the kids to come over and pat. As they lined up outside, they saw the table with the cakes. After their pat, some kids grabbed cake and took it inside to eat. BAD for us! To get the cake outside, the magic show was stopped and the kids were then instructed to go outside and find the Easter Eggs. But as the magic show hadn’t finished yet, they brought them inside to eat. VERY BAD for us!
The egg hunt had been planned for after the magic show. We had arranged to leave when the other kids were busy egg hunting. But as the plans changed to go with the flow, we were left to decide if we would stay or go. I wanted to leave then and there, but my husband did not want our kids to miss the rest of the show. So he stood up the back with Declan, and I waited with Bianca at my parents home, just up the road. She was getting a bad cold and I felt very uncomfortable being there.
My husband is not as anxious or reactive at me. He felt very proud that he stayed and was able to make the most out of an awkward situation. I realise that Declan needs more of these instances to be able to handle such situations when he faces them in the future. Seeing all those kids walking around with chocolate on their hands and butter icing on their face, gave us a glimpse into what it will be like at lunch times at school next year. OH DEAR!!
The Fun Day coordinator was devastated that the thoroughly planned procedures for the day fell by the wayside. After many apologies, I finally convinced her that kids are completely unpredictable, and as much as we try to control situations, for the most part, it is impossible. It really is up to us to have educated our own children to look out for their own safety, to have a great sense of self-awareness, and an excellent ability to assess each and every situation for the risks. We can’t rely on everyone else to make every social situation ‘safe’ for us.
We are constantly reminded every day that other people are not going to take responsibility for our kids’ life-threatening allergies. It isn’t their responsibility.
I am tempted to bake all the cakes for the next function, just like I did last year. It would make the environment safer, and give more food options for our kids to eat. But, what would we be teaching our kids? They would never get any practice in risk assessment, nor any confidence in their own ability to look after themselves. I struggle with this decision all the time. Our first instinct is always to protect our kids. But their is also another vital role we play as their parents – educator. We can’t be looking over their shoulder for the next 15 years. It would make my life easier if I could, but it just isn’t possible. They are growing up, and we need to let them grow up.
So our new definition of a successful event, is “reaction-free”. The kids might fight the whole car trip, we might lose a hat, I might even lose my purse, but with no reactions….. it is still a very successful event.