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by Sarah M. Boudreau-Romano, MD, FAAP
There were about 40 kids sitting mask to fairy wing on the floor in front of the magician. He asked them to shout out ideas for the magic words.
All good ideas but he insisted that his magic words were better, more special, more serious…
“Peanut butter smooshy face!!”
The children squealed with laughter. I, as the host of our annual top 8 allergen-free Halloween costume party, squirmed in my seat. He had no idea just how serious those magic words were to about 10 of the children in his audience who live with peanut allergy.
I had prepared all of the families who were invited to the party. I asked them not to bring any outside food or candy so that I could be sure that the party was safe for everyone. I had prepared top 8 allergen-free food (that means there is no milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish or shellfish) for about 100 people. I made Tinkyada® brown rice shells with homemade marinara sauce, 120 delicious meatballs, salad, little frosted pumpkin Cherrybrook Kitchen® chocolate cupcakes. (I am happy to share any of these recipes if you are interested!) I had not, however, prepped the magician. Honestly, who’d have thought?
I had hoped he was going to use that set of magic words for only one trick but instead “Peanut Butter Smooshy Face” served as the magic words for the remainder of the show. I looked at my good friend who has a son with peanut allergy and we could read the horror on each other’s face. The longer we looked at each other though the less we could hold back the series of nervous giggles that followed. Every 20 seconds the kids were yelling, “Peanut Butter Smooshy Face!” How could this be happening? Out of all the words in the English vernacular, he had to choose the words, peanut butter? I catch the eyes of a few of the other disguised food allergy mothers and offer my best vampiress apology. I know they accept because they are as overwhelmed with nervous laughter as I am.
I looked at the young audience to study the facial expressions and mouth movements of the children with peanut allergy only to find them as happy as everyone else when they screamed the magic words through wide smiles. I considered wading through the crowd of children in my gigantic ring skirt to tell the magician to stop using those magic words but thought that the distraction would be too great for this gaggle of 5 year-olds, so I didn’t. Instead I sat there thinking about why everything has to do with food when suddenly the magician pulled out a fake egg for his next trick prop. An egg! I started thinking his next trick was going to be making shellfish appear out of thin air! Regardless of the magic words and the trick egg, he held those kids’ attention for 45 solid minutes and the children’s laughter was infectious. By the time he was done, everyone’s nervous laughter was replaced by genuine laughter and happiness. The real magic of the evening had nothing to do with the magic words he chose but, instead, with the fact that, as nutty as this Halloween party got, there was not a single nut to be found.
Hope your Halloween was a fun and safe one! You can e-mail me at email@example.com and read more articles at www.theallergistmom.com.
SARAH M. BOUDREAU-ROMANO
Sarah M. Boudreau-Romano holds a B.A. in Biochemistry from Knox College and received her M.D. from Rush Medical College. She became a board-certified pediatrician following her pediatric residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital. She then completed a fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Sarah has not yet pursued her board certification in Allergy/Immunology.
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