Sunday, October 25, 2009


Halloween is upon us, and this year we're doing things a bit differently. We have yet to do any decorating, which is good and bad. Good, because I know I would quickly grow tired of trying to keep the toddler from going Godzilla all over Spooky Town (as appropriate as that might be to the season). Bad, because, well, I really really LIKE Spooky Town and our decorations.

Our annual Halloween Hoopla is still a go and we'll put up some spooky decor and pumpkins in honor of that occasion. I bought some treats for the goodie bags a month ago at Target, and that was just a stroke of brilliance and excellent planning on my part. Because now I don't have to rush around at the last minute to prep for the party. Remind me to do this every year.

It will be a fun party, and allow me to take a minute to thank our guests in advance for being willing to help their little ones keep the unsafe candy to eat at home. And thank you to anyone out there who is thinking about the kids with food allergies and is taking the time to find a way for them to participate in the Halloween festivities.

Halloween is a Big Exception to our usual rules. Every other day of the year, we keep Ryan AWAY from peanuts. On Halloween, we actually send him out of the house, looking for treats that are more likely than not to contain his deadly allergen.

We can do this because he and his siblings and friends follow the food rules at our Halloween party. No eating the trick-or-treat candy while you're out in the neighborhood. Eat only the treats we have available in our house. For my kids, they give up most of their candy in exchange for peanut-safe treats. For our guests, they leave the candy they collected in Mom's car and have to wait until later to eat any of it. And they get the unsafe candy my kids collected as sort of a consolation prize for being such good sports.

Why do we even go through the stress (and it is a bit stressful, I admit)? Because Halloween is fun! It's a fun tradition I've always loved. Dressing up in costumes, getting a little spooky, walking around with the other kids in the neighborhood, collecting candy and spider rings. It was a big event in my childhood, and it's a big event for my children.

I think we have found a way to allow Ryan to participate in this fun event while managing the risks involved in a reasonable way. Hosting the party gives us a certain measure of control over the food which helps us enjoy the event more. Setting reasonable limits that the parents and kids agree to follow as well as making the whole thing as fun as possible means that everyone can be safe and everyone can have a great time.

Yes, this is risky for him. But there are risks in life. I'd rather teach him how to have fun in a safe way than live his life afraid of risking anything. Halloween should be a little bit spooky, but not frightening in that sense.

And in case you're wondering what the kids are going to be this year: Ryan will be a Red Clone Trooper from Star Wars, Morgan is going to be Minnie Mouse, and Yoda Sean will be, hmmmmm. I haven't even thought about a costume for me, so I don't know if I'll be dressing up. I'll have to see if I can figure something out. I can always be Professor Sprout minus the mandrake, I guess!


rachel... said...

I thought I was brilliant, too, buying our Halloween candy weeks in advance. But now, mere days before trick-or-treating, I realize there is not a speck of chocolate left in the house. You, and your family, have AMAZING self-control!

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I like the way you are teaching Ryan how to manage the risk of his allergies. I believe that in so doing, you are actually providing for his future safety because he will have learned to be aware and proactive about it, whereas if you kept him isolated out of fear, the chances of risk-taking out of ignorance would be increased as he grows up.

I believe kids are smarter than we think, and are able to handle information about themselves and their needs quite well. I have therefore always been truthful with the kids about their particular disabilities (my adult daughter has hearing loss in the speech range, my son has Asperger Syndrome). I have found that if kids are taught a balanced perspective about themselves, they have little need to be "just like everybody else"; rather they can see and appreciate the variations that occur quite naturally among human beings.

Tori said...

Yes, this is risky for him. But there are risks in life. I'd rather teach him how to have fun in a safe way than live his life afraid of risking anything.

You're right about that! I have a lifelong food allergy myself (eggs); while I am lucky that it's not deadly like Ryan's, it is very severe and it knocks me out for hours when it strikes. My parents raised me to be proactive about my allergy and consistently conscious (but not overly afraid) of its risks, which was the best thing they could have done. I learned to ask about the ingredients of every new food I ate from an early age, and it saved me a lot of illness and my parents a lot of hassle.

Happy Halloween! Sounds like you will have a wonderful time.

Wendy Hawksley said...

We love Halloween. It is probably the most popular holiday in our home. :)

I like how you are handling the peanut allergy issue. It is very logical and teaches Ryan that he can share in the fun, while still being conscientious of risks and health limitations.

9to5to9 said...

We do the post-trick-or-treat candy exchange, too, and it works wonderfully. Last year, when Big Guy was 5, there wasn't even much to exchange because he'd turn down Reese's, Snickers, etc. at the door. I felt kind of bad for the folks giving them out - in most cases, those are regarded as the primo treats - but I was sooooooo proud of him.

Jenny said...

Halloween IS fun and worth the stress. When my daughter was young, she'd reject the peanutty candy at the door and people would be like "huh?" but I got a big kick out of it. Mostly she loved dressing up and ringing doorbells with all the other kids.

I wish people weren't so big on Butterfingers but we still love Halloween. Have a happy and safe time with your family!

Karen said...

My daughter learned early on, that if she said "I'm not allergic to that one" at the other doors she would get five candies from the person at the door.