Dear parents who have put out a teal pumpkin this Halloween,
You are doing something so important to parents and children with life-threatening food allergies. I want to acknowledge your effort to mark your home as safe for my food allergic child and others like him this Halloween. I can see you painting the pumpkin teal and thereby teaching your child about empathy and compassion. I blink away the tears, because I am so very grateful for homes like yours that will allow my child to focus on being Albus Dumbledore this Halloween and enjoy the magic of the night.
For our family, Halloween used to be downright scary. The truth is that I used to dread trick or treating with my son. I remember vividly a few years back when my sister invited us to her neighborhood. My son was so excited to dress up in his Thomas the Train costume and even more so, to trick or treat with his cousins. I'll admit I was nervous, but armed with my EpiPen and safe candy, off we went. House after house, I remember my son asking if there was any safe candy for him, only to get looks of pity or blank stares. Even though I had safe candy with me, he just wanted one door to have something special for him too. His disappointment was palpable, and for a mom to witness this, heartbreaking. I swore to never go to homes I had not vetted again.
If I have to be honest, it can be truly exhausting both physically and mentally to prepare for any celebration that focuses on food. After all, if I get it wrong, or don't do my research, or miss an ingredient, there can be catastrophic consequences, even death. This weighs on my heart day in and day out. I fear for my son every day that he goes into a world rife with peanuts, his particular poison. I love him so fiercely and just want to keep him alive and safe.
I want you to know these things because I can easily bet our family is not the only grateful one this holiday. Just in case you were wondering if it was worth the effort, please know that you are helping to erase the stigma of food allergies. You are bringing magic into the world of a child, one teal pumpkin at a time.
Thank you again for participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
A Food Allergy Mom
Photo taken by Lianne Mandelbaum