Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Scary Time of Year

I've always enjoyed Halloween. My husband and I met at a Halloween party, and my birthday is about a week before the 31st, so I get a lot of festive fun at the end of October. I've always enjoyed coming up with unique costumes, something that started in the 5th grade, when I borrowed a neighbor's antique hoop skirt and created a kick ass princess costume that garnered a lot of attention and admiration for my budding artistic skills. It also taught me the necessity of wearing shorts under skirts any time I might inadvertently flash someone, but that's another story.

Over the years, I've fashioned costumes ranging from simple to elaborate. Some of my favorites were the last minute ones, like the year I wasn't planning on going out until a last minute party invitation became irresistable. Instant costume: take an egg and blow it out, crumple up a paper bag into a nest shape, hot glue the egg to the nest and the nest to a barrette, throw on a green tunic and brown tights and voila! You're a tree!

Obviously, I've always had fun with the costume part of Halloween, but since becoming a mother I've had other issues. Halloween can be very scary for kids, and that is something we are dealing with this year. There have been umpteen discussions about different varieties of monsters, and lots of whining about costumes and begging to watch Halloween-themed television shows. We went searching for a costume at a party store and my son reacted to some of the way-too-adult decorations I tried to hustle him past with a catatonic deer-in-the-headlights gaze.

For our family, though, there is an extra level of scary on Halloween. When my son was 18 months old, he had an allergic reaction to a cracker that had traces of peanut butter on it. When your child is diagnosed with a severe food allergy, it's a frightening shift in the level of responsibility for what goes into your child's mouth to realize that every bite of food - heck, even the smell of peanut butter sets off some allergic reactions - is potentially dangerous. My first thought after getting confirmation of his allergy was, "Oh no! Now I'm going to be That Mom! The one who won't let you bring cupcakes to school to celebrate your kid's birthday! The one who pesters you at the party about the ingredients in the cake! Dammit!"

These days, I try to take the kids out trick or treating and enjoy it instead of freaking out. I just never thought that the scariest part of Halloween would be the candy.

The best place I've found for information and support for the families of children with food allergies is FAAN - The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.


Life As I Know It said...

Oh, gosh, that must have been very scary! Halloween is my least favorite holiday for many reasons, and although we don't have food allergies here, I still am wary of what they eat.
Our school just started a policy of not bringing in any food for parties/birthdays, etc...

Whirlwind said...

We don't have food allergies in the house, but some kids at the girls school do. One thing the school is doing this year is called Trunk or Treat. After their small Halloween Party, they have 20 or so parent volunteers who decorate their trunks of their cars/mini vans ect and the kids will trick or treat through them. One key point is no peanut snacks. SO it will be non-peanut snacks and/or small toys. The school has an almost peanut free policy (kids in certain classrooms are still allowed to bring in peanut butter as a last resort and have a special peanut free table - not sure how that works in the communal cafeteria though)so any snacks sent in have to be peanut free. Most parents, even those with kids without allergies, know how to check the label and send in appropriate snacks. Who knew Shrek frosted animal crackers had traces of peanuts and tree nuts ?(not m,e until I had to make sure the girls snacks were peanut free!).

Anyway (rambling on like always) maybe you could do something like that with their daycare/school or even a group of friends? Then you wouldn't have to worry!

P.S. the reason it may work with the girls school is there are only 181 kids (pre-K 3 years to eight grade) I'd have to estimate like 80 families in the school.

pinks & blues girls said...

Oh, that definitely is scarier than witches and goblins.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Velma said...

Because of my family-wide no-peanut-tolerance policy, the kids have been pretty good about letting me weed through everything that comes home with them. My husband had a hard time at first, going through Reese's PBC withdrawal, but now we just concentrate on the "safe" treats. Thank God for Smarties and Tootsie Rolls, because they don't feel like they are missing out!