I was forcibly reminded this morning of how incredibly fortunate we are in this family – we have 3 healthy, intelligent, active, attractive, (mostly) lovely children, who were conceived and brought into the world without too many difficulties. Our son J started year 2 on Thursday, and parents of children in his class were asked to come to a meeting this morning to learn about the food allergy of another child. This little girl is allergic to eggs, specifically a protein found in the albumen, which has only gotten worse over time, unlike most childhood allergies. Her sensitivity is so severe that a crumb of cake, or even just the smell of egg can send her into anaphylactic shock, requiring a shot of adrenaline, an ambulance and hospitalisation. An aide stays with her at mealtimes at school to help remind her and other children in the school not to swap food, to wash hands, to clear away any leftovers that might possibly be contaminated.
What in incredibly stressful experience it must be for her parents to send her to school, to take her to the shops, to do anything with her anywhere at all, when a smear of mayonnaise on a surface is enough to trigger a reaction if she touches it with her skin. The moment-by-moment vigilance required to keep her safe outside their home must be truly exhausting. They have my utmost admiration for their obvious efforts to give her a normal life, including school, friends’ parties, and knowing which chocolates and jelly beans are safe for her to eat.
We try to be the best parents we can for our children, to love them and teach them and keep them safe, and I hope that the strength of others, faced with far worse than a few sleepless nights, is enough to keep me striving to be better.