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What six year old boy wouldn’t want to go to Disneyworld?

Posted Feb 10 2009 12:23pm

Apparently mine. Here’s the story: with the exception of a few road trips, our family has yet to take that long family vacation to faraway and magical places. John’s severe peanut (among his other allergies) have made us think twice before booking a flight or hotel room. It’s not the only reason we have hesitated. The past four years alone have been busy with moving, starting a business and having two more babies (15 months a part). However now we want to do something special, something that requires us to take all four kids on the plane. We want to go to Disneyworld.

 My eight year old has already lost her interest in all things princess but I am hoping the magic of Disney will still cast a spell on her. My two and three year old are obsessed with everything Disney related so I am fairly certain they will have the time of their lives, whether they remember it or not. It’s my six year old, John, that I am worried about. Not just for the obvious reasons of food safety, cross contamination issues and such. What I really worry about is that if I don’t help him to venture out and see the world a bit more than we have the past six years he might develop a complex about his food allergies.

When we finally brought up to the kids this weekend that we were pondering a trip to Disneyworld for the first time everyone squealed with joy; except John. He became withdrawn and grumpy and didn’t really want talk about going. He asked if we could just stay home and maybe go bowling or mini putting somewhere. My response went along the lines of “Are you crazy??” (in a joking manner of course). But when I took him aside to get to the root of why he didn’t want to go it was obvious the reason was because of his food allergies. He worried about his safety and whether or not he’d have anything safe to eat that wasn’t in the comfort of his own home. John was geniunely sad and confused. I had no idea the emotional toll his food allergies had taken on him. In his six short years he’s only known a world with food allergies. He knows he has to take extra precautions, his mom always has to make special food for him and we can’t casually go to just any restaurant unless every ingredient has been fact checked and verified safe. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, let alone a six year old boy.

In that moment I realized that not only is it my job to keep John safe but also to help him live more freely. I need to help him understand that it’s OK to be a little nervous about certain situations but it doesn’t mean in any way that he can’t have fun or enjoy the things other kids enjoy. Sure he has to be vigilant about the food he eats but he can also be just like any other kid.

I’ve tried over the years to educate John about food allergies and how to become a self advocate in the event  I wasn’t there. But I think I need to start easing his anxiety over travelling away from home and being in an unfamiliar environment. I think I need to start easing my own anxiety about it as well.

If any of you have any tips about travelling to Disneyworld I’d love to hear them. Or maybe you have tips in general about travelling with food allergies. I’d love to hear them all.

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