After recording several Parenting Food Allergy episodes, I realized I needed to lighten things up. Not every day is a chore for food allergy parents. In fact, most days are mundane but quite often funny, absurd and profound moments occur. So, in the spirit of keeping it real, this episode I tell about accidentally injecting myself with an EpiPen. I also recount the ridiculous lengths I went to in search of a dessert that my food allergy child could enjoy at a holiday party.
But the most personal story I share is about our visit to Erin McKenna’s Bakery in New York City.
Vacationing with food allergies is difficult. A great deal of time is spent researching, making calls and fretting over food. It’s like an advance team on a presidential campaign but instead of a Secret Security detail securing a location for a future leader, a food allergy parent secures a path for their child.
On this vacation, not unlike many other trips, I called ahead to several restaurants and made sure our rental apartment was within walking distance to safe food establishments. In the back of my mental Rolodex, I remembered the name of a bakery in New York City that was allergy friendly*. I recalled being touched by a television segment with the baker. (As an aside, this is all pretty funny because I have no idea what I had for breakfast let alone the name of a bakery in New York that was mentioned on a show a decade ago.) Anyway, I looked up the establishment, Erin McKenna’s Bakery, and to my delight it was only a few blocks from our rental.
We arrived in NYC, left our bags and went to the first restaurant on our list of safe restaurants. After eating I announced that I had a surprise for the entire family. We walked a few blocks away and entered the cute little bakery. My allergic teenager gave me the familiar look, the I-can’t-eat-anything-here-and-you-know-it-and-it-stinks look. I paused and said, “Guess what, you can have ANYTHING in this bakery!”
It was magical, Joe had wanted a donut since conception and right before him were cases of beautifully displayed donuts, cookies, cupcakes and more sweet treats.
He was stunned and overwhelmed. He literally didn’t know what to choose because this one time his choices were more than just Italian ice and Oreos. He chose a donut. We all picked our treats and sat…and watched….as he took his first bite of a donut ever. The tears rolled down my face as he enjoyed what most people take for granted each day – a simple donut.
For the remainder of our vacation my son walked to the bakery each morning and was the first in the door to buy a donut.
It was a parenting food allergies win kind of day.
*Medical disclaimer note: allergy-friendly to our children may not necessarily be allergy friendly to other food allergy sufferers.