Part 3: birthday parties
There is now a lot of information about allergies and their symptoms that allergy sufferers and their families can obtain from websites, leaflets, and by talking to their doctors. Usually only the families of children with allergies know what daily life with allergies is like. In our five-part series, we interview a father in Berlin with a severely allergic child, provide insights, promote understanding, give encouragement, and reveal ways to cope in everyday life. We spoke to Christian, 41, about the challenges presented by his son Luis’ severe peanut allergy and how the family is dealing with it. The allergy was identified when he was four years old. Luis is now nine – and gets a lot of invitations to birthday parties from his classmates.
Birthday parties with a peanut allergy
Luis’ parents find it extremely important to know the parents of his friends and to inform them about their son’s allergy. He is not allowed to go and play at a friend’s whose parents are unaware of his allergy. “We try to meet the parents of his new friends as soon as possible and have a word with them. A good time to do this is when the kids get picked up from school. We don’t wait until we’re dropping him off at their door to do it. It’s usually too stressful”, Christian explains.
Preparations must also be made whenever Luis is invited to other kids’ birthday parties. “When Luis’ friends celebrate their birthdays at home”, says Christian, “it’s easy to find out what food will be served. But when the plan is to go out somewhere, like to the climbing gym or an indoor playground, the parents themselves usually don’t know what kind of food will be available.” Christian checks out the location himself – in advance and on site. “If there are chicken nuggets, it is important to know what kind of oil they are fried in. I need half a day to find out everything. It’s a good thing they’re open late in the evening”, he says, laughing. If Christian has the feeling that the cooks don’t know what ingredients they are working with, he and his wife prefer to give their son his own food to take along with him.
It is very important to Luis’ parents not to turn down invitations from other children only because of his peanut allergy. “All parents know how hard it is to manage everything from day to day. But we have to deal with Luis’ allergy on top of everything else. When we send him off to a birthday party, we don’t just have to check whether he has his waterproof shoes on, but also that the food is safe.” Luis has not yet had an allergic reaction because his parents were not careful enough or were not well enough informed.
We thank Christian for this interview. He spoke with Matthias Colli and Johanna Rupp from ECARF.
– Family vacations with a peanut allergy