My 3-Year-Old Really Wants a Food Allergy

foodallergysmallThe other day my daughter June was sitting at the breakfast table eating cereal when she said, “Mom, I want to be allergic. What can I be allergic to?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think you’re allergic to anything.”

“But I want to be allergic to something. I want to be allergic to a food I can’t have.”

“Aahh. I see. Is anyone in preschool allergic to anything, by chance?”

“Yeah, Jonathan is allergic to apples, and Kiley is allergic to milk. So I want to be allergic to something too.”

Here lies proof it is fashionable to have a food allergy, I thought … at least among this particular subset of preschoolers. “Maybe you can be allergic to candy?”

She thought about this. “Naah, I don’t want to be allergic to candy.”

“Ice cream? Do you want to be allergic to ice cream? That’s kind of like milk.”

“No, I don’t want to be allergic to ice cream.”

“How about chips?”

“No, I love chips.”

“Well, I just don’t know what you can be allergic to then. Maybe you don’t actually have a food allergy.”

After a minute, she said, “I know what I can be allergic to. Turkey. I want to be allergic to turkey.”

I had a sense I was missing a “teachable moment” to sit my child down and have a lengthy talk with her about the seriousness of actual food allergies, but I couldn’t think of a way to discuss the topic without overcomplicating or glamorizing it.

“Okay. Turkey it is. You’re allergic to turkey. Well done.”

The more I thought about it, turkey is actually kind of genius to select for a food allergy because it’s eaten so infrequently — at least in this household — she’ll rarely have to refuse it … other than at Thanksgiving, and I assume she will have forgotten about her turkey allergy by then.

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