“Mommy, I ate with my friends at Dent De Lait; they ate like me and I ate in a yellow plate like them!” With joy & happiness sparkling in his eyes, I couldn’t believe how much this had meant to him. We tend to take small things for granted, but for a 3-year old boy to verbally express his happiness by feeling inclusive and eating just like his friends means something.
I explained to him over the weekend that starting Monday he will be eating from the nursery’s kitchen. I constantly reassured him that the food prepared is going to be safe.
First 2 days were not so great! He was anxious. He was worried. He was confused.
What is going on with my mom? For over 2 years, she’s been on top of my head not letting me eat anything not prepared by her. And now, my lunchbox is not with me and I am being told it is okay to eat from someone else’s cooking?
He needed reassurance. He needed to hear that what he is eating is safe & that I approve of it. On the third day, I asked to speak to the Chef with Nadeemo.
Me, “Nadeemo, do you have any questions for the Chef regarding your food?”
Nadeemo, “Does the food have any sesame?”
Chef, “No, it doesn’t.”
Nadeemo looks at me and smiles, and continues, “Does it have any dairy, eggs, and peanuts?”
Chef, “No, everything I am preparing for you and for your friends is safe. Your mom is sharing recipes with me and approves of all the food.”
With a big, shy smile, he looks at him and says, “Thank you!” and gives him a hug!
Inclusivity highlights one of the sad things about food allergies which is kids feeling they’re missing out. Children with food allergies can and do feel different. Why can’t they be eating foods that their friends can eat freely and enjoy? How can you explain this to a 3-year old? We teach our allergic child from a young age to recite their allergies, recognize allergens, politely decline food from others, ask about ingredients, recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction and so on. So, they become aware of their allergies from a very young age & this causes them anxiety at an early age! An anxious 3-year old? That’s too much to handle!
You are different, but it is OKAY to be different.