As we're still in the spirit of the New Year, my Mom wrote about her perspective and goals for 2014 as a Grandma of a child with food allergies. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires other Grandparents of children with food allergies!
As I reminisce over the past year, and ponder goals for 2014, my family remains "front and center." Of course family celebrations and get-togethers are one of the highpoints of grand-parenting. In our family, my grandson's dietary needs and safety require additional planning due to multiple food-allergies.
As I count my blessings, I realize we've come a long way over the past 3 years. I remember being shocked when my daughter came to dinner and asked to see the turkey label - well it was ONLY a turkey, but hidden within the label, was a basting that was dairy based. Whoa! Grandma has a lot to learn!
Maybe our family has missed casually prepared mealtime menus, impromptu fast food visits, store bought Birthday ice cream cakes.....but we've made a "new normal" with new traditions. Due to the planning involved, our meals are generally well-balanced and a bit healthier.
Most importantly, I can play a unique role in shaping my 3 year old grandson to remain safe, confident, and become a self-advocate. We can practice over and over again, "Grandma is this safe for me to eat?" We can prepare new recipes and plan celebrations with the sole purpose of making it fun, resulting in new traditions in our family. We can help my grandson learn that it may take preparation, but we can enjoy family meals together and savor the family joy of being together.
Among my goals and opportunities for the coming year:
- Since I am retired, I can devote blocks of time to improving my grandson's needs. I can use my detective skills to examine new products or e-mail manufacturers regarding product safety. I can chat with grocery store managers and thank them for supplying needed products. I can shop multiple stores in search of special products or request a particular product be ordered. I can make time to look for new recipes.
- I can work to make my home a safer allergy-friendly place. This includes separate silverware, cups and dishes for my grandson when he visits which I know have not been contaminated with allergens in our kitchen. I can keep my grandson's staples in a separate spot in my refrigerator. I can keep several "impromptu" menu items in my freezer and staples in my pantry. I can make sure any allergic items in my pantry/fridge are properly marked and ideally hidden or covered from view.
- My grandson and I can start to plan the fun for the year ahead! Yes, we are going to make a coconut ice cream cake this year and valentine cookies that will dazzle everyone. We're going to experiment with casseroles and soups and maybe make our own "Favorite Foods" cookbook! We're going to discover new picnic lunches and snacks!
- I can continue working to make my grandson a self-advocate. As he matures, I can become another role-model in educating his peers, caretakers, and other adults. Grandparents can have an important role in supporting agencies such as Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) and in writing legislators/congressmen locally, statewide or nationally!