Sunday, April 26, 2009

a small window

In an effort to channel Little Dude's boundless energy, we signed him up for a multi-sports class. Parents were not allowed in the gym but could watch their kids through a window ... a window that was no more than a couple of feet wide. Naturally, I hogged a prime spot near this window on his first day of class.

Little Dude looked smaller than the rest of the kids. This was not surprising since the class was offered to kids aged 3-5 and he just turned 3 this past March. It was interesting to see him interact with the 4 and 4 1/2-year-olds. He looked and acted so much younger ... slightly impish even. We missed the first session because he was sick, but he was holding his own. He giggled and talked through most of the activities. He followed one of the girls around for a bit. He has a thing for older girls already.

Half way through, the kids began to gather around a table full of drink bottles. Little Dude was looking for his. It was still in his backpack. By the time I reached the table, one of the instructors was giving Little Dude another child's bottle. My heart skipped a beat.

I handed Little Dude his bottle which was labelled with his first and last name and had a picture of a stroked out peanut. Then, in the calmest voice I could gather, I reminded the instructor to be mindful of my son's peanut allergy and to never give him any drink that isn't clearly labelled his .

I'm sure nothing would have happened if Little Dude had taken a sip from the other child's bottle. The chance of the spout coming in contact with someone who had just eaten a peanut butter sandwich before class is microscopic. But, that's not the point. These days, with the number of children with food allergies around, instructors, teachers and caregivers should never offer anything with suspect origins to a child.

I'm grateful that I have a year and a half before Little Dude starts J-K. I'm grateful I have time to seek out flashcards, early reader books and other learning aids to help me make him understand that he should NEVER accept a drink or food that is not his from anyone. The concept of having a life-threatening allergy is too abstract for my 3-year-old. He turns away when we have these discussions.

It's futile to wish for a little port-hole into my children's every move. The Good Man and I are in our 40s and have come to accept that the natural order of life will likely play out for us. We will not always be around for our boys. Our job is not to constantly keep tabs on them but to raise them to become independent, resourceful adults.

But, last week, I couldn't help but feel grateful for that little window.


  1. Neat post and neat picture to go with it. We have a friend whose child is allergic to almost everything under the sun, and I hope she'll agree to be our guru if our baby turns out to have food alergies. (Our daughter doesn't have any thus far, but our son has shown potential.) I feel for you! I'm unnerved putting my child in other people's care simply because I hate that they won't understand her and her needs the know I will. But when that's a matter of a child's safety, that's got to about undo you!

  2. It really is hard to trust your children to another. It's even harder to trust that your very young children will make the right choices when you're not around.