Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs. ~Christopher Morley
Since Scootch's diagnosis, I can't even begin to tell you how much reading I have done. Knowledge is power, right? I should be able to supply energy to the entire neighborhood with how much power I've accumulated. And yet, I still feel like I'm learning something new everyday.
I recently joined another website community for help regarding Scootch. They lured me in with a feature on managing anxiety associated with food allergies. (I think they just should have named it, "We're Doing This Feature For You!") The entire presentation was helpful, validating, and enlightening, but there was one point in particular that has been worrying me incessantly. They talked a little bit about empowering your own child by letting him/her become their own advocate, and most of the mothers listed how well their children do asking for permission to eat things, and knowing to tell strangers that they have allergies. One mother even said her son has known his food limitations by 2 1/2.
Huh. Scootch is almost 3. And I have never taught him to say he's allergic to eggs and nuts. Why this never occurred to me I can't say. Somehow in reading to him, teaching him his colors, numbers, alphabet, and how to go potty, I never have actually sat down with him and explained TO HIM that he has food allergies. He's always been present when they were discussed, I've told him he can't have certain things because they will make him itchy, but I've never actually filled him in on it. I found myself unsure of how much he actually knew and comprehended about his condition. Until last Saturday.
Last Saturday was Easter Eve. And Easter Eve in our house involves dying Easter Eggs. I actually remembered to buy the contraband eggs the night before while I was out at the grocery store (and then promptly forgot to buy the egg dye), and hard boiled them in the morning to prepare them. So by afternoon, after lunch, I had everything set up and announced we were going to dye eggs for Easter, and Scootch told me he couldn't. "I no do eggs, Mom. I don't wanna be itchy." Dumbfounded. That was my reaction. It became blatantly obvious that Scootch had grasped a great deal of his condition by himself, even though I didn't have a whole sit down talk with him. He obviously remembered how horrible he felt back on New Years Day when he was exposed to nuts and broke out in hives. He obviously has been listening when his sister has been integrating mini lectures about his food allergies into their play kitchen sessions. And he obviously is old enough to comprehend and internalize the stuff I have been talking over his head to others for the past 2 years. A big "DUH" to Mommy for not thinking he would simply absorb this information just like he's picked up everything else in his short life.
To tell you the truth, I think the whole reason I haven't had the food allergy talk with him is that I didn't think he was that self-aware yet. My first clue should have been that he has grasped the awareness concept of potty training, but I think in some respects, I've been short changing him a bit by thinking he is still pretty much a helpless baby. In actuality, he'll be 3 in less than two months, and is as opinionated and bright as the Monkey was at that age. He confounds me again and again, day to day, with the observations and queries that come out of his mouth with no provocation. As much as I can sit here and rationalize that I didn't do it because I wanted him to still be a carefree little boy, I'm now kicking myself in the head and feeling guilty for insulting his intelligence by not thinking he could handle the information sooner. He obviously has some knowledge about his food limitations, and it hasn't dampened his carefree attitude one bit. So instead of sitting here worrying how much information is too much information, I'm going to start giving him the basics to go on for now. Hopefully by the time we get to his 3rd birthday, he'll know his full name, his address, and his food allergies.