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I'm Not a 'Helicopter Parent,' I'm a Food Allergy Mom

With “Toy Story 4” out in theaters, we decided to have our daughter, Olivia, watch the first “Toy Tory” movie. She loved it and has been dancing with her daddy to, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” for days.

In the spirit of fun toys that talk and play, we decided to also watch, “The Toy that Time Forgot.” I had never seen it before but it came free with our “Toy Story” purchase, so I thought, why not? However, only two minutes into the movie, a scene plays out where the dinosaur is dressed up as a pretentious looking mother — pointy glasses and all — and the dinosaur yells at the little girl playing the waitress that there is a bug in her son’s ice cream and her son is “allergic to bugs!” So the little girl flicks the bug out of the ice cream and says, “there you go sweetheart, enjoy.”

And then the movie moves on.

In our world, food allergies are constantly seen as a burden and a joke. This scene does nothing but perpetuate this unfortunate view point. When a child watches this movie and sees this scene, they may learn that by simply removing an allergen from someone’s food, it is now safe. They may see food allergies as funny, simple, and as a simple inconvenience. This scene in this movie does food allergies an extreme injustice — making a life threatening occurrence seem joke worthy mundane. The mother who says her son has a bug allergy is shown as a know it all helicopter parent, and the waitress brushes off the allergy like the mom is simply being a pain.

At restaurants, I am hit with constant dirty looks and hear whispers under people’s breath about how ridiculous I look wiping down the booths and chairs, bringing our full course meals into perfectly nice dining rooms. I thought I never wanted to be that kind of parent — never wanted to be considered the “neurotic” mom who keeps her kids in a bubble.

That is until I became an allergy mom.

My judgements are gone. Now, I lock eyes with other moms who may be seen as “neurotic” and give them a supportive nod.

I want other people to know I am taking care of my baby in the best possible way I know how. Having food allergies in a world that uses them as the butt end of a joke is tough. When characters in movies laugh about something that could kill my daughter, it is heartbreaking. But I know Olivia is going to educate others on how to keep her safe. So if you have watched this movie, please talk to your kids about why this scene is so wrong. Simply removing an allergen from the food will not remove what makes kids like Olivia deathly ill. Removing that bug from her sundae would not get rid of the bug protein. I know, I’m talking about bugs and pretend ice cream sundaes, but to kids these stories are as real as they can be.

And give that mom insistently wiping down the tables and chasing their kids around as much grace as you can, because you do not know what they are going through. So no, I’m not a helicopter parent — I’m just keeping my little girl safe.

In the meantime, just keep advocating!

Getty image by CarrieCaptured