Now here’s the extra tricky part. While all of my 7 ½-year-old’s friends are enjoying many “age-appropriate,” independence-inducing rites of passage, Lucas – on account of his allergies – is still being accompanied by his nanny on certain play dates; we’re still sticking around at birthday parties; and at this stage I can’t even imagine sending him to overnight camp.
We have added safety concerns that require us to be more on top of Lucas than we’d otherwise have been, yet somehow my kid is suppose to grow up well-adjusted, independent, self-reliant, confident – and with a heightened sense of responsibility since he will be expected to manage his allergies for the rest of his life.
I remember a couple years back a mom from Lucas’s class asked me to join her crusade to get the school to make the kids wear helmets for outdoor sports activities. “I figured you’re as neurotic as me, so you’d probably be all over this,” she said.
But I wasn’t and am not. “I’m only really nuts about nuts,” I told her. I realized in that moment that there are a lot of things other parents concern themselves with that don’t even occur to me because I spend so much time clearing the nuts from the path. Helmets?
I let my 6-year-old ride his bike around the corner without my supervision. I even let him walk home from his friend’s house by himself (granted the boy lives eight houses up the street and I could see him the whole way, but still. I know 12-year-olds who aren’t allowed on their front lawn alone).
So it seems that even before I met Beverley, who has since inspired me to find many new ways to empower my children in an effort to foster all the life skills I want for them, I was already (almost subconsciously) making up for the over-protectiveness inherent in our allergic lives.
I was already showing signs of faith in Lucas that I now understand are key to his sense of independence, confidence and the rest of the stuff I want for him. Now if only I could get my hands on that magic wand.
Beverley Cathcart-Ross is the founder of Parenting Network, www.parentingnetwork.ca. She is a certified parent educator, private counselor and mother of four grown kids. She has helped thousands of families enjoy more harmony in their home and closer relationships with their children.
- Risk Talking: How to (and How not to) talk to kids about anaphylaxis.
- Laurie Harada: Why I don’t define my son by his allergies.
- Allergy High: Teens Talk About Their Lives with Allergies.