So many times as we raise our kids we focus on the first...the first steps...the first tooth....first day of school. But we miss the lasts...the last time they crawled...that last loose tooth.... But there are time when we notice the passing of time. Friday was a day like that for us. A time of handing over control and responsibility...with our heart in our throats all the while.
Friday William's high school soccer team were playing in the first round of the state play-offs - and neither Drew nor I could attend. Like to have killed me! See the game was at the other end of the state - six hours away. And I couldn't go. To have him so far away...yikes!
No, this isn't the first time he's been away from us. But before he was with people I had full confidence in. This time? Not so much.
A huge issue for us is the food. All my kids are allergic to nuts and peanuts. As in they swell up and quit breathing if ingested. Scary - very scary! (Here's the story of it happening in Guam.) But over the years, we have taught them that the world will not change for them - they have to be the one to change and be proactive. It's their health and ultimately, they are responsible for it. We talk about reading labels and asking questions. And when in doubt - throw it out or don't eat - being hungry and breathing is the better option!
When we were vacationing in Australia we went on a cruise to dive and snorkel at the Great-Barrier Reef where lunch was provided. The crew could not tell me with all certainty that was no nuts in the salad or breads. My kids didn't eat much. We were ninety minutes out in the ocean - way too far away from an ER even with Epi-Pens on hand. That's just how it is. (I did have some safe snack food with me, but they were hungry by the time we returned to the hotel.) Many times the kids have gone to a birthday party and didn't eat the cake or other treats. They all know it's just not worth it.
At all the schools the kids have attended, I have become great friends with the school nurse. I have made sure all the teachers know exactly what my kids can and can not eat. Most teachers have been great! A few, though, had to be told to NOT feed my child - that I would send in a treat for that special day.
As the kids have gotten older they have gotten tired of the conversation - they don't like the other kids knowing there's an issue. They just want to fit in. In fact, this was the first year I did not send an email to William's or Melissa's teachers at the beginning of the year. Partly because, there's less food in the classrooms in middle and high school than in elementary rooms.
We are, also, to the point where the older kids have to carry an Epi Pen with them when there's food involved...which with teens is most of the time. They hate it. But it's a non-negotiable. Food=epi pens.
So. Back to Friday and the soccer game six hours away. In the past I would talk to the adults around to make sure they knew how to use an Epi Pen and make sure they knew where the Epi Pens were stored. Actually, when the system works right, the school nurse is to go over this with the teacher. But I had a sneaky suspicion the school nurse was not notified of the trip. (I found out that she was not.) Drew and I talked - and talked to William. We decided to let him go on the trip - after all, he has worked hard and deserved to go!
Drew and I, also, decided not to have a conversation with the coach over the food...to use this as a way for William to be totally responsible for his health.
Oh, my. That was hard.
I trust William. I do. I know he would NEVER eat anything that would endanger his health. He has vivid memories of that night in Guam (and probably a few other reactions as well). But the other boys? Not so much. All it would take is for one boy to eat a peanut butter cracker then rub his hand on William's face (they are teenage boys after all! I found out afterwards that a few moms made snack bags for the boys - complete with chocolate-chip cookies with pecans and several packages of crackers and peanut butter. And a banana and an apple. Yeah for fruit, at least!)
But the apron strings...loosening they need to be. After all, our goal in raising children is to raise them to leave us. (Gen 2:14) And in leaving us, they need to be able to take care of themselves.
It's just...the training is hard at time.
(They lost the game 4-0. And yes, William did great - on the field and with the food.)