Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Trip To The Candy Store!

Yesterday, we took the kids to their first-ever visit to a real live candy store. Whey-Out Chocolate is located in Conyers, a short 53 mile trip from our house (one way). The proprietor, Joy, is a member of our local food allergy support group and invited us to visit her store. Despite the trek, we couldn't turn down the opportunity.

It was so much fun! The kids were a little apprehensive about tasting the free samples at first. Joy of course explained that there are no peanuts or tree nuts anywhere in her store, but it took reassurance from Brendan and me that it would be okay to touch and eat the candy. Once that little hurdle was overcome, they had no problem sampling some other treats!

We got to see the little kitchen where she makes her chocolate--peopleguy stuff, always very exciting. And a lovely chocolate sculpture of a flower in a pot. And Joy was extra sweet to the little ones, answering their questions and asking them about themselves.

Another mom and her son arrived as we were finalizing our purchase (because you know we couldn't get out of there without buying some chocolate!). There was a very sweet, amusing-yet-heartbreaking moment when the two little boys compared their Medic Alert bracelets and told everyone what the inscriptions are. Sigh. Still, it was nice for Ryan to meet another kid who has to be careful about food, who carries an Epi-pen, who wears a Medic Alert bracelet, and who was visiting a candy store for the first time, too. I really hope to get out to one of our support group's playdates soon.

After our visit, we walked around the little downtown area of Conyers. It's a cute little town (city? I don't know.). We walked through a small Japanese garden and admired the koi pond for a while. And we did a little window-shopping, too. A very nice way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon. Then it took us an age to get home due to traffic (aaahhh, Atlanta!) and emergency pit stops for drinks and the potty. Taking Ryan to the bathroom at a convenience store was such a contrast after being in Joy's store. Once he relaxed at the candy store, he was free to move around and touch things and not worry. At the convenience store, he automatically reverted back to his normal Arms At Sides, Not Touching Anything Just In Case plan. Sigh. Sweet boy.


Allergy Mom said...

This is going to sound like a horrible question, but how did you get him to the point where his arms are automatically at his sides? My son wants to explore and touch EVERYTHING. While I love his fascination with the world around him, I'm absolutely terrified he's going to come into contact with one of his many allergens. I'm also starting to turn into my own (screeching) mother, which horrifies me and prompts him to push the limits even further. We've had lots of calm discussions, but as soon he gets excited, well, you know what happens. Libby

Rational Jenn said...

Not a horrible question at all! It's nothing we really did, as far as I know. Ever since the Big Peanut Kaboom--he had just turned 2--we took pains to point out peanuts (in the shell and out) and other peanut-containing products at the grocery store.

Now that I think about it, we did make it a rule that his hands should be inside the cart in the checkout lane. This was when he was really small, when he was a typical grabby, oral toddler.

Now he is nearly 6, and A) used to keeping his hands to himself and B) not quite as prone to picking up random crap off of any floor and popping into his mouth anyway!

I guess it was a combination of us reinforcing the dangers, as you are doing, plus some natural temperament. He's always been on the cautious side.

His sister on the other hand! Super oral, SUPER grabby, Super not inclined to take "no" for an answer. (And super cute!)

She is almost 3 now and will be tested soon for the few foods that we have kept her away from since birth. But we don't know whether she's allergic to anything or not. She's been a challenge at the grocery store. She would have been anyway--it's a personality thang and I sure don't understand--but with the food allergy wild card dangling over our heads, it's been stressful. It's hard because I know she doesn't really understand, but it really stresses Ryan out when he thinks she's touched something that might be dangerous. Me, too. But it's all been fine--no reactions. And as she's gotten older, she understands more. The other day she made pretend birthday cakes and made sure to tell me that she didn't use peanuts, so they were safe for all of us to eat. Very sweet!

How old is your son again? It must be that much more difficult when there are multiple allergens involved. Ryan is PA only, although we avoid TNs out of x-contam concerns and the elevated risk of developing an allergy to those as well. He is contact-sensitive to peanuts, but so far nothing worse than localized hives has ever happened to him upon touching something contaminated, which Benadryl cleared right up. His only anaphylactic episode was That Fateful Night and we've never had to use the Epi on him.

Okay, well, I think that response might have been longer than the post! Hope it helped, anyway, even if only to know that I feel your pain!

ute said...

Jenn, I'm a chocolate lover and can't ever make it out of a nice store without lots of it. I love your post.
None of my kids have food allergies, but we're in a homeschooling community (with a school for homeschoolers) where we have to watch very carefully for other kids' allergies. Once a little boy who is allergic to peanuts had a terrible reaction to it and ended up at the ER with his mother. It was quite scary. No more peanuts at the school, as you can imagine.

Glad to have found your blog. I just told my husband about the tax credit post and you could just see his eyes light up. :)

Monica said...

What a fun Sunday outing! Perfect for Easter, no? A trip to the chocolate store!!! (Are some of her products also milk free? Just curious.)

I'm totally ready for spring to be here. It won't come for two months, really, til mid May or June. I am SOOOOOOOO ready to see spring blossoms, and tired of this howling wind and unpredictable blizzards. I'm really not used to spring coming so late. I was talking to my mom yesterday and got jealous when she started talking about all the spring blossoms.

I'm impressed, too, that Ryan is so well aware of his situation. You must be proud of his behavior, and it must be some small consolation that if an incident does happen, it will be totally accidental. Doesn't sound to me like this kid is ever going to slip up! :)

Rational Jenn said...

Ute, hello again! Food allergies are becoming more prevalent and more dangerous, unfortunately. Those of us who are afflicted, or who have kids who have food allergies, are VERY grateful to others who help us look out for our kids, even though they may not have allergies themselves. So, thank you.

Monica, yes, her products are dairy-free, too! Also, only one thing she makes has egg in it, and she uses separate utensils for that product. She is working on some soy-free things, too, a particular challenge, given the use of soy lecithin, which many soy-allergy sufferers cannot tolerate. Brendan remarked on our way home about what a profitable niche market the food allergy consumer is becoming. It sure is nice to have companies like Joy's around!

I am very proud of Ryan's conscientiousness about his allergy. It's a fine line to walk, teaching them to be safe while not completely freaking them out. Especially because Brendan and I are more aware of the consequences than Ryan is. We've done what we can, we take appropriate precautions, and we've talked to him about the fact that mistakes can happen. I'm sure that if (when?) another big reaction happens, it will be accidental. Things are easier, too, since he is so little. I understand that they become more complicated as the child gets older and begins to be more responsible for himself, and also has that whole teenager-immortality thing going on. But I will cross that bridge later!

Hope you get spring soon. As I'm sure you saw, we had a last gasp burst o'winter around here today!

Jennifer B said...

How wonderful to have a peanut free chocolate store near you! It must have been fun to watch the kids enjoy it. I haven't found any near us yet, but I hope one will appear soon!