Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child with life threatening allergies is even harder. My goal as a mom is to make Noah’s life as normal and enjoyable as possible. He will always have to do things slightly different than other kids because of his allergies, but I want “different” to be seen as a positive, not a negative. When it comes to holidays that means putting in a little extra work to make it special for him, because he won’t be able to partake in everything the same way as his friends.
Halloween is a big one because of all the candy, and it gives me slight major anxiety when I think about it. But it also brings me sadness. The majority of the “good candy”all has ingredients Noah is allergic to. Think of your favorite candy – Reese’s peanut butter cups? Snickers? Butterfingers? One bite could actually kill my child. Even the residue from these treats could cause a severe reaction. Talk about terrifying. Just having Noah reach into a bucket of candy scares me. We’ve actually talked about having future Halloween costumes involving gloves of some sort. Most people may think that’s a littleee ridiculous, but that’s how seriously we take this. If you saw what happens when your child ingests something they are anaphylactic to, you would do the same. Noah is still young, and doesn’t fully understand the trick-or-treating concept yet, but each coming year will get harder and harder. So, this year we are going ahead and starting new traditions to bring a different twist to the holiday.
FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has launched a campaign known as the “Teal Pumpkin Project” to help bring awareness to the issue of food allergies, and promote inclusion for all kiddos on Halloween. The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to offer alternatives for kids with allergies, to make sure all trick-or-treaters are included! Sign me up! David and I are basically obsessed with this idea…we mayyy have ordered t-shirts, and I mayyy have painted my nails teal for the past week. We also had Noah paint his pumpkin teal this year, which we have proudly displayed on our porch. The goal is for people to see the teal pumpkin, which signifies that we are a “safe” house and we have non-candy options for those kids that can’t have candy. We loaded up on fun stuff at the dollar store- Halloween pencils, spider rings, glow sticks, etc! Stickers, tattoos, bubbles are all awesome ideas as well!
Having a corner lot, we are in a prime location that people drive by a hundred times a day. So, we are putting up a nice big sign for all to see with the Teal Pumpkin Project Logo, and stating that we will offer non-candy alternatives! My hope is the sign catches our neighbors’ attention and they get curious. I want to educate anyone who is wanting to learn. I want to teach them about the 1 in 13 kids in the US that have food allergies, or that every 3 minutes food allergies sends someone to the emergency room – that’s over 200,000 a year, and we’ve unfortunately been one of them. I want them to be aware of the food they are bringing around others, and that Halloween can be an incredibly dangerous time for those with food allergies. Also, I want any other kids in our neighborhood who have allergies to know they are not alone, and they have some place to go to safely participate in such a fun holiday. Now, we won’t just be passing out non-candy treats (because no one wants to be thatttt house), but we will also pass out SAFE candy options- which are few and far between. But, after lots of research, we were able to find some decent options geared toward allergy families. Who knew Skittles, Starbursts, dum dums, Smarties, Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish are usually all allergy free?! NOTE: It is imperative to read all labels before buying candy. Did you know smaller packages for Halloween can contain different ingredients than the normal size packages?? I didn’t either.
I can’t tell you all how much the Teal Pumpkin Project means to our allergy family. While some people may see a teal pumpkin and just think it’s unique – for me, it means a safe and fun evening for my boy. It’s about starting new traditions as a family, and helping to spread the word of food allergies. We have already had several family members and friends tell us they are participating this year, which literally brings me to tears instantly!! I cannot express how much it means when someone even asks me about it, or tells me what they are doing to make it special for all kiddos. I know it will only continue to grow with each passing year!!