Monday, September 27, 2010

House Arrest

Hubby and I went out twice for the first time in a long time this month. The first time we ran away for 3 hours in the afternoon to catch a movie, and the last time was a wonderful dinner out with friends followed by cards, dessert, and drinks, back at their house. It catches me off guard how insulated we are, though, when we do happen to venture out. People talk of movies they've seen and events they've attended, and the only things I have to contribute are that I just scored a $10 off coupon to the newest Tinkerbell movie for the Monkey, and we went to see a life sized Thomas the Tank.

Between keeping the kids on schedule and the money tightrope we're walking at the moment, I understand its probably going to be a couple more years before we can go back to planning twice monthly get-togethers with friends again, but my other biggest hurdle is myself. Particularly my issues with entrusting my kids with other people.

I wonder if it would be so bad if Scootch didn't have such bad food allergies. This week alone I almost had a nervous breakdown filling out his Allergy Action Form for his new term at school. You think you've prepared yourself for the worst that could happen, but when the symptoms are listed in checkbox form ranging from "if child has ingested a food trigger and experiences no symptoms" to "if child has ingested a food trigger and experiences thready pulse, low blood pressure, fainting, pale, or blueness" and its up to you to tick off the box that tells them what to do in order to save him, believe me, the vision starts to swim and you start wondering if your lunch is going to end up back on your desk for an encore appearance.

And truthfully, I think its hard to gauge the perfect balance needed in a caregiver for a kid with food allergies. You want someone who is great with your children, compassionate, and loving, but ballsy enough to stick your kid in the leg with a 1-inch needle if the need arises, no questions asked. So we've basically stuck with family members when we've needed a sitter. Not that they're all at the same caliber, but for some reason I feel like if they're related, the more vested they are in the interest of Scootch, and the better job they might try to do at keeping him alive for the 5 hours I'm gone. Second to that, they're usually left in the company of adults versus the great high school kids we used to employ. I know there are some mature high school students out there, but I still feel that life experience is a better qualifier in my case (see the point about the one inch needle insertion above).

I try to reason with myself that its rare that Scootch will have a reaction. And I try to repeat to myself that we always surround our children with loving, well-meaning people who aren't afraid to take a little extra care to ensure the safety of our kids. But then hubby turns on an old episode of Freaks and Geeks so we can see vintage John Francis Daly, and it turns out to be the Chokin' and Tokin' episode where Bill is hospitalized after the kids in school stick peanuts in his sandwich as a prank.


So now my new hobby is researching home-schooling......

But seriously, I'm trying to take the time now and re-evaluate myself and my reactions to Scootch's allergies. I don't want to obsess and over-evaluate who to leave our kids with so much that our kids pick up on my nervousness. I don't want Monkey over-burdened with the task of being a food allergy enforcer when there aren't family members present. I don't want Scootch to fear going to the ice cream shop with his little league team after a game, or dread lunchtime at the school cafeteria. Maybe he'll get laughed at for always having hand wipes on him to wipe down his spot at the table and refusing to kiss the girl he likes behind the bleachers without asking her if she ate a Snickers bar in the past 5 hours, but I'm hoping those kinds of quirks will earn him a loyal following, even if it isn't a large one to get him through his childhood years. And I think that's the most important. I want him to have a childhood. A happy one. And that means Mommy and Daddy will need to get away from time to time.

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