I’ve been asked to write a guest blog post on teenagers and keeping them safe and I’m in a bit of a conundrum because I am not sure I’m ‘done’ yet with the teenaged years. Although mine is in her early teens, we actually went through more rebellion before she was a teen – those dreaded middle school years when she wasn’t carrying her epi-pen because she flat out refused. Read my blog post from that time here. You’ll realize that I launched quite the campaign that was exhausting for both of us entitled “Because I love you, that’s why.”
Since that time, we have allowed her to travel with very kind-hearted adults we barely knew, headed for places we’ve never been, with her epi-pens, and food, and told her to have a wonderful time. She has attended concerts with friends, overnights and parties by herself, again, with friends I don’t know and in the care of their lovely parents. She rides public transportation to and from her public school in NYC every day.
She IS almost grown.
As an almost grown person with multiple food allergies and asthma, I’ve tried to instill in her an almost grown attitude. I remind her that she is in charge and the manager of her asthma. I remind her that wheezing is one of her asthma symptoms. Her response is but Mom, it doesn’t hurt, which in turn launches me into the reasons why it doesn’t hurt, and the reasons why she needs to take the medication that she’s been on since she was five.
On Halloween as she was running towards the door to go out with her friend, I reminded her that she needed to eat a good dinner before she went out (eating fast food isn’t something that we are able to do due to the multitude of food allergens), otherwise she’ll “go down”. She stopped and listened, remembering our recent apple picking trip where she became weak. She asked her friend if she could wait for a few minutes while she ate dinner. At the end of dinner, she threw her epi-pen bag into her trick or treat bag and off they went.
When I preface my statements with “because you’re basically grown up, this is something that I’d like you to consider…” it actually prompts her to listen to my words, even though she may seem like she’s not.
Am I less anxious now that she’s “almost grown up”? Actually, yes. I trust her to do the right thing when it comes to her health and keeping herself safe. I’m very proud of who she has become, and though there are still those times when neither one of us wants to listen, or follow instructions, we both realize that if we take a deep breath, we both want the same thing. “Be safe and have fun” is our moto and we’re thankful that so far, it has been a safe and fun journey parenting a teenager who has food allergies and asthma.