Monday, August 22nd, 2011
Despite my overly calm reaction to the sitter introducing my son to peanut butter, I’m over-the-top nervous when it comes to my baby and food. OK, maybe I’m just over-the-top nervous when it comes to people and food. After witnessing my husband cough while eating chips on more than one occasion, I’ve asked him to please, pretty-please never eat that particular snack food unsupervised. I am not exactly kidding.
Anyway, Roy is 19 months old, and the thought of giving him a frozen pea makes me want to hyperventilate. When my husband cuts the boy’s food into pieces, it’s all I can do to wait and watch how he handles them before diving in to halve everything again. Roy’s instinctive response to the word “chew” is to do so along with an exaggerated head-nod, as he’s seen me do at nearly every meal beyond purees. Add to my nervousness the fact that my family has a history of shellfish allergies, and no wonder it’s taken me a while to warm to the idea of giving him so much as a scallop.
But Clint and I really love shellfish. Before Roy became old enough to share family meals, we’d typically have shrimp, squid or scallops at least once a week. We’ve been missing it terribly. Clint broke down about a month ago, declaring one Saturday The Day. Roy had a few bites of shrimp at lunch, followed by no adverse reaction. Well, except mine, which involved inspecting his limbs for hives every few minutes and quickly asking,”You OK?” every time he so much as cleared his throat.
I braced for Round Two, which my doctor informed me is when allergies often emerge. We wanted to wait until Roy was in perfect health, so of course I pointed to every runny diaper and case of the sniffles as reason to postpone. Last weekend, Clint apparently decided he’d had enough. On Saturday, that old familiar scent of sauteeing shrimp filled the kitchen. Shrimp and veggie sandwiches for Clint and I. Yum. Shellfish Round Two for Roy. Eek.
Me: Aren’t you nervous?
Me: Not even a little bit?
Clint: Not even a little bit.
Me: Really? Really?
Incidentally, this is the same back-and-forth we have on airplanes during takeoff, though to be completely accurate, imagine my side of the conversation slightly slurred due to the pre-flight martinis.
Roy ate a couple of shrimp. He kept asking/insisting, “Chicken?” so we finally just rolled with it, calling it chicken-shrimp. No wheezing. No shortness of breath. No trip to the ER. Whew.
We’re a shellfish household again! Until baby #2, that is. I think I’ll try and work up the nerve earlier with her. More accurately, I’ll ask Clint to spearhead the process earlier, despite my pleas to the contrary.
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Thursday, July 7th, 2011
We lucked into a fabulous babysitter, Liz. She’s a competent college kid who always leaves the house picked up, brings a library book to read during Roy’s naptime and tells us he is so good that we should pay her less. I swear the last time she was here, she cleaned our microwave.
Back in March, our regular daycare provider took a weeklong vacation, so we scheduled Liz for a few mornings so I could still get a little work done. Before she left that first day, she asked: Would I mind if, in the future, she baked us some cookies while Roy napped? Seriously. She asked for permission to bake us cookies. I’m not much of a baker, and Clint rarely gets around to it. So yes, Best Babysitter In the World. We would very much appreciate your fresh-baked cookies.
Turns out the girl has some serious oven skills. The next day, I came home to a batch of the most perfectly round, perfectly chewy peanut butter cookies. Clint and I oohed and aahed over them that evening, marveling at our luck in finding such a kind, thoughtful and responsible sitter who could also whip up a mean baked good.
Though it was late March, and technically spring, the next morning I awoke to a full-on snowstorm. (This is Minnesota, after all.) Somehow, Liz made it to our place, and before I braved the roads to hole up in a coffee shop for a few hours, I asked if by chance she’d given Roy a cookie. She hadn’t. “Oh, good,” I said. “He doesn’t eat peanut butter yet. I exposed him to it once, but they say the second time would be more likely to trigger an allergic reaction. I just never seem to be up for that stress,” I told her.
“I could do it,” she offered.
Hmmm. I entertained the possibility for a split second. First of all, no peanut allergies exist in our family, so the chances of Roy being allergic are pretty slim. Second of all, I’m confident Liz can deal with pretty much anything, and I’d only be a few miles away. Before I got to a third point, I snapped back into reality. I am not going to hand that part of my job over to my 20-year-old babysitter, no matter how awesome she is. I told her thanks, but no thanks. The consequences could be quite serious. The roads are too bad if they were. I’d do it myself eventually.
I got stuck three times on the way to the coffee shop. No kidding. As in thank-god-I-have-a-shovel-in-my-trunk, strangers-pushing-my-car-for-me stuck. It took me nearly an hour to go a couple of miles. But once I got there and settled in, I got some work done, then headed back home, without incident, to spend the afternoon with my baby.
He was asleep. Liz gave me the usual update—how much Roy ate, how many “presents,” as she calls it, he left her. “Oh, and I gave him some peanut butter cookie,” she added. “He was fine.”
You guys. My babysitter introduced my child to peanut butter. Against my direct orders. I was stunned.
My first reaction was to ask, “When?” It’d been a few hours. No swelling. No wheezing. No hives. Nothing. OK. Well.
After Liz left, I immediately called Clint and told him what happened. As we spoke, my bewilderment wore off and I found that in its place wasn’t anger, but relief. Amusement, even. It was a dangerous game she played there, but she had all the best intentions. And everything turned out fine. Had it been anyone else—a friend, a grandparent—I don’t believe we would have had such a laid-back reaction. But Super Liz took matters into her own hands and, once again, made our lives easier. To our amazement, we were OK with it.
Now we’re getting ready to introduce shellfish, to which we DO have a family history of allergies. As easy as she made it the first time, I’m definitely not leaving this one to the sitter. Any advice? How did you introduce the high-allergen foods? Did you stress about it as much as I did? How would you have reacted to the sitter doing the job for you?
Image © flickr user diekatrin
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