Life as the parent of an allergy kid is tough.
Whenever she is not with me I worry. Not just normal parenting worry that I have with the other 2, but a real gut wrenching worry.
Last friday I got a missed call on my cell phone from her school. I went into instant panic mode, replaying scenarios in my head and trying to figure out how to respond before I called them back. There was a picture in my mind of her all puffy and wheezy and the office staff not knowing what to do. Of course it was nothing really, just a confusion as she had had water polo training before school. She was fine.
Saturday was one of the local school fairs and little sister was dancing on the stage. Emma just wanted to hang out with her friends. Lots of new friends this year. She is at Intermediate. Kids that dont know her history, one old friend with her who does. She comes up to me and says she wants to pop down to town with her friends. She has her bag with her and she knows her rules. I let her go with them for one whole hour, not knowing whether she will keep herself safe or not. The only rule was to stay with the old friend the whole time. The old friends Dad collected her and took her home. She was fine. I felt like I couldn't breathe for the whole time she was doing her own thing.
Today I sent her and her younger sister off on a run - big sister looking after little sister and helping her train for the triathlon. Little sister was streets ahead. Where was the allergy kid? Lying on the pavement having an allergic reaction? And no-one noticing? There is this new theory about exercise induced anaphylaxis, could this be what she was having? And hang on a minute it was only 1/2 an hour ago that she ate - O.M.G... Hang on, her emergency kit is in the car. So should I run back to the car and drive around the block? Should I get little sister with boundless energy to run around the block again to look for her? What should I do? And then she walks around the corner, holding her side - Stitch - too much afternoon tea.... All my panic for nothing, again.
I thought being the parent of an allergy kid was hard before. When she was little I could control everything. The teachers knew her well, as did the office staff and the principal. I knew the parents of her friends. That has all changed now. Her teacher knows her, but not the office staff. And that is despite me going in and introducing her to them at the start of the term.
She now wants to go to the park and to peoples houses who I dont know and it is tearing my heart in two. I dont want to stop her being a kid and I certainly dont want to stop her making new friends but I want to keep her safe.
It is time to let her take some control over her life and learn to make choices - both right and wrong. And I have to hope that all the work we have put in over the last 11 1/2 years will make her choose the correct options.
I have to trust her to keep herself safe.
The trouble is a really wrong choice could kill her.
So maybe for the rest of my life, I will be on tender hooks.