Mostly it's something that I try to ignore... because people lamenting about how hard it is to accommodate one kids allergies for one meal, usually makes me feel rather ill.
I'm not going to delve into the whole "what should school's do" argument, because honestly I don't know, and because if all goes the way I pray that it goes, it's not an issue that I hope we'll ever have to deal with. I really, really feel for parents who do have to face this issue. In truth I can't imagine sending Mae to school, knowing that she actively craves the foods that are the most damaging to her, and can't yet control that craving.
Were allergies a consideration when we decided to home school? Nope, because we didn't know that all of our kids were going to have them. We didn't know that any of our kids had them at the time. But it is something that makes me grateful for our choice, because it's easier to make sure no one is about to need the epi-pen I carry in purse if I'm actually there with them, preparing and serving their meals.
So it can't be real.
Of course, when we were growing up, we weren't seeing quite as much genetically modified junk on our plates and in every single food aisle in the super market. We didn't hear about food giants fighting battles to keep that genetic modification off of labels and ensure that people don't know what they're buying.
When I first took Patrick to the doctor and told him I was terrified because he was clearly allergic to something the doctor acted like I was insane. Patrick was two months old. His face was swollen. His eyes were puffy. His face and body were covered in a bright red rash. His breathing sounded raspy. And every person who came into the room said "So you're a first time mom, right?" in a condescending way that made me want to shake them, because they're tone clearly tried to discount any worries that I was bringing to them.
"It looks like eczema" the doctor said and I stared at him. Ezcema causes your face to swell up and your eyes to swell shut so they're two different sizes. Was he looking at the same child that I was?
"Some doctors do believe that the proteins from what you're eating can be passed to the child through your breast milk." He said, "some doctors" in a way that let me know that he wasn't one of them and he thought the whole thing was ridiculous.
I walked out of the office with a hard won referral and over the next three months as I waited to get in to see the allergist I tried an extreme elimination diet that had Patch feeling better some of the time, but that failed to identify the culprit since apparently it takes about 18 hours for the cow dairy protein to get into my milk and while I was adding in new foods once a week after a month of basically eating fruit and meat, it still managed to skew the results (somehow).
Interestingly enough, when I saw the actual allergist who is now Patch's doctor he had no doubt that Patch was allergic to dairy and didn't seem to think that it was odd at all that he was able to react to the protein through my milk.
I'm thankful for my epi pen. I'm thankful I have an inhaler with a kiddy mask in my bag all the time.
And when I hear people talking about food allergies and saying things like "what, do you want to keep your kid in a bubble?" I find myself wanting to say "when it comes to the food they're allergic to, yes. Absolutely. I do. I wish there was a bubble around Patch that dairy couldn't pass through that wouldn't keep the rest of the world out."
For me it isn't so much about not being able to have what everyone else is having, or not seeing anything on the menu that my kids can eat. It's about safety. It's about that raspy breathing that I first heard when Patch was two months old, that took my breath away. It's frightening in the extreme to think that a food that everyone else thinks of as "healthy" could seriously hurt my child.
Are allergies real? Yes, they absolutely are... and let me say that when a family's entire life shifts to avoid a food that's pretty essential in their culture's diet, they probably aren't doing it because it's "fun" or for "attention." They're doing it because it could mean the difference between life and death for their child.
Which brings me to the whole "wheat" thing.