Dear Ms. Moilanen,
I read your recent piece on your thoughts about kids who have food allergies. Well, actually your beef was with the parents of kids with food allergies. According to you, we need to all just relax and let our kids eat things they're allergic to in order to build their immunity. Apparently you basically cured your son's egg allergy by feeding him egg every few weeks until he simply got over it.
It's truly surprising that I had never heard of the "feed-your-kids-things-that-make-them-sick" theory of dealing with food allergies. It's a miracle! You're amazing! You must have learned an incredible amount in all of your medical classes. Um, what? You're not a doctor? Wow. I certainly didn't see that coming. (Can you sense my sarcasm, Ms. Moilanen?)
You seem to sneer at the parents who say their children have food allergies. Yep, all of us parents who have food-allergic kids are making it up for attention. It's really fun to scour the aisles of grocery stores looking for food substitutes that actually still taste like food. It's fulfilling to spend an insane amount of money on rice milk, vegan cheese, soy nut butter, non-dairy chocolate chips, tofu, and flaxseed. Yes, we enjoy going out to restaurants knowing that our kid will be lucky to get a plain hot dog, no bun, and maybe some canned fruit.
I haven't even gotten to the best part of being the parent of a food-allergic child. You were annoyed that your son didn't get to celebrate his birthday with cupcakes and had to simply settle for soy ice cream? Poor precious snowflake. No, strike that. Your kid was probably pretty happy to have any sort of ice cream. You are obviously the one who felt that your son's birthday celebration was somehow deficient: poor YOU. When other kids in your son's school celebrate birthdays, does he get to eat the treats brought into school? I assume he does and he tells you all about the treats when he gets home from school. You're lucky. You're so incredibly lucky.
I don't always know when there are birthday celebrations at my son's preschool. When I am aware, I send a special dairy-free, egg-free cupcake so that my son can have a treat like everyone else. Then again, if the birthday treat isn't a cupcake, he's left out. When I don't know about the birthday celebration, my four-year old kid ends up with a cereal bar. Everyone knows that nothing says party down like a whole grain cereal bar!!! I can always tell when Dallas has been left out of a treat by the way he walks to the car when I pick him up after school. His gait is slow and his eyes don't leave the ground. He tries to be brave and nonchalant when I ask about his day, but inevitably, a few tears leak out because he didn't get a cookie or brownie like all of his other friends. In those moments, I feel like a failure. My heart rips apart a little, and I blink back tears so he doesn't know how upset I am at the slight.
I'm sorry that your son didn't get to eat chocolate cupcakes at school on his birthday, Ms. Moilanen, but don't you dare suggest that those of us with food-allergic kids need to just relax so your son can eat whatever he wants. My son may have to carry epinephrine with him for the rest of his life: that's not an exaggeration and it's not a joke. Maybe you think that "only" 9,500 hospitalizations due to children's severe food allergies isn't that big of a deal, but I guarantee that being hospitalized was a huge deal to the parents of those 9,500 kids. I don't bake vegan cakes and wrap up special food to take to birthday parties just because I'm uptight. I do what I do because my son has serious food allergies, and there's no denying it.
And don't feel sorry for that little girl who was eating graham crackers: you should feel proud that she has a parent or parents and a teacher watching out for her, keeping her safe. I'm thankful that girl will get to skip a visit to the ER because another child's mom thought she knew better.
I hope you have learned your lesson about going after parents with food-allergic kids. We're a tough bunch, and we will not back down. Just thought you should know.