Surviving the Easter Egg Hunt With A Peanut Allergy

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As I look forward to attending the Annual Easter Egg Roll at The White House in Washington, D.C. this year, I am also looking back fondly on how I managed last year’s Easter Egg Hunt at the wonderful Golf Club in our former Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood. I definitely did more than manage the Cub’s food allergy.  I had a ton of fun and we made wonderful memories for our family.

Just like every other event revolving around food, you just need to plan ahead when you have a child with a food allergy.

Easter Egg Hunts are something that my grandmother use to love to do for us every Easter Sunday after mass when we were children.  I can still remember hunting for plastic eggs on each crisp, cool Easter morning on Long Island.  My sisters and I were always covered head to toe in way too much tulle, lacy ankle socks paired with shiny patent leather shoes and great big Easter bonnets.  With that image in mind, I find it so funny that we all ended up being the mothers of little boys.  There is only one sweet girl in our family, my niece, and she is the one now covered every Easter in too much tulle, an Easter bonnet and lacy socks and shiny shoes.

If I close my eyes, I can still see my grandmother’s sweet smile and remember how she would laugh as we would shriek with childhood delight at the 3 to 4 spring-colored jelly beans or tiny, chocolate eggs wrapped in shiny  foil would pop out of the eggs and roll onto the fresh, spring grass.

Like other families, we have great memories surrounding Easter.  Last Easter, I wanted my little Cub to start making his own memories with the same fun adventures.  For most families, an egg hunt simply consists of heading out with an Easter outfit and a basket.  For our family, we also needed to talk logistics about how we would deal with the unsafe candy that would be inside the eggs that our son would be picking up.

Here’s what we did:  We brought our epipen (which is always with us), wrapped ourselves in the comfort of our pre-discussed food plan and then we let our son be a two year old. We let him have fun with all the other kids and we enjoyed every minute of watching it.

I let him fill is basket with as many goodies and plastic eggs as he could find. And he found A LOT. He tried to open some during the hunt, but we re-directed him to other eggs that needed to be picked up and that worked just fine.

Once the egg hunt was over, I took the Cub’s basket and immediately did a quick sort. He is used to having food checked to “see if it’s safe [for you]”, so he didn’t protest and stood there patiently waiting while I sorted his loot into two piles: (1) Definitely Safe and (2) Not Safe or Questionable.

At a large egg hunt, it’s rare to have a host that would have saved every single bag of candy available so that the ingredients can be reviewed with a fine tooth comb.  So anything questionable (i.e. anything without an ingredients label) is deemed Not Safe. The items in the safe pile included stickers, bubbles, plastic toys, cups and bracelets.

The Not Safe or Questionable pile included all the food and candy.  So yes, ALL the food and candy got confiscated from the Cub and sealed in a freezer-sized zip lock bag to give away to our friend’s with children without food allergies.

Now don’t feel badly for our sweet little Cub.  Chew Chew Mama packed a completely separate bag FILLED with plastic eggs (pre-filled at home with peanut free and tree nut safe Easter candy). These safe eggs got poured into his basket with the safe pile of stickers, bubbles, plastic toys and bracelets from the hunt and then his basket was returned to him to enjoy.

And yes, I smiled deeply within my heart as our little Cub shrieked with delight when he opened up his eggs and 4 spring-colored, peanut free jelly beans rolled out onto the grass.  And so it goes.  Same traditions.  Done safely. Easter memories made of smiling faces and happy hearts.

Looking forward to the memories that we will make this year and wish everyone has a wonderful & safe Easter!

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