As negative developmental milestones go, this one is harder on the mamas than the kiddos.
Bubba is finally ‘getting’ her allergies and she seems to be taking it better than me. We went to a Trunk or Treat event at Big Girl’s elementary school tonight. All three kids were dressed in costumes and excited to trick or treat in the school’s parking lot. Right before turning them loose, I reminded Bubba not to eat anything without approval from us and that we would play ‘switch witch’ with any unsafe candy when we got home. She nodded happily and ran ahead to get started. At the first car she asked for my help in picking some safe candy. Chocolates, no. Nerds, no. Laffy Taffy and Jolly Ranchers….I read the labels…safe! At the next car she again turned and asked for help. All the candy was chocolate. I knelt down and said “none of it is safe, but that’s okay. You can just take a piece, say thank you, and Mama will trade you for a safe piece at home.” She told me she didn’t want any candy that was unsafe. Well, it’s hard to argue with that. We skipped the bowl and headed to the next car. That one, along with the next several, didn’t have any safe options. Each time I told her, “it’s okay Buddy. Just say thank you, grab one piece, and we’ll swap it.” Nope. She didn’t want it in her bag.
You could tell it was finally sinking in. Bubba wasn’t smiling any more, she was walking more slowly, and she approached each new bowl with ever increasing caution. “Mama none of it is safe. They don’t have any safe chocolate? Why are all the candies bad?” I knelt down again and explained that most chocolate has cow’s milk in it and lots of candy has nuts or eggs. But that’s okay. Why? Because we will always have lots and lots of safe options for her. In fact, I had some in my bag. We could play switch witch right now and she could have fun trick or treating. Right?
Bubba continued walking the parking lot with us but the enthusiasm was gone. Even when we found some cars with safe candy options, she didn’t seem excited. I was crushed. My mama eyes brimmed with tears at her new found awareness. Given her 35 food allergies, the reality is that most food in the outside world is not safe for her. I believe my job as Bubba’s mom is to help steel her against these disappointments, to offer perspective, to help her understand this reality but to not dwell on it. That’s what my head says when my heart screams THIS IS JUST NOT FAIR. I kept up my internal temper tantrum as we moved on from trick or treating. Bubba danced in front of the DJ and walked in the costume parade. Bubba was over any candy disappointment. She was happy to eat popcorn I brought from home and got really excited when she discovered all the safe candy in my purse.
When we got home I sat down with Bubba to ask what happened tonight. Why didn’t she want to trick or treat and swap later? Was she scared to touch the candy? Was she mad she couldn’t eat it? Did she just figure why bother if she couldn’t eat it? Yup. She figured why bother. I asked if she felt left out because so much candy wasn’t safe for her. Nope. I asked how she wanted to handle Halloween night. I explained it would probably be similar, that lots of houses would have unsafe candy, but there might be a few safe items. She told me she would just take the safe stuff. That works for me. Instead of the switch witch game I anticipated, we’ll just make a safe candy goody bag for her to return home to.
So Bubba finally ‘gets’ it. Maybe not completely. Or maybe she gets it more than I do.