Last Halloween was the first time I learned about the Teal Pumpkin Project. Basically, a blue pumpkin on a porch on Halloween night can signal appropriate treats for trick-or-treaters. The idea is to provide safe alternatives to kids with food allergies, or who are maybe diabetic or have other special needs. I appreciate the thought behind Teal Pumpkin project and I never want to discourage any efforts towards kindness.
However, I am not really a Teal Pumpkin fan.
One of my kids is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts; he cannot eat or even touch food that has come into contact with these ingredients. He carries a shot that will help save his life if he accidentally ingests a peanut or nut. Several families in our neighborhood last year set out teal pumpkins and offered gluten-free, nut-free and even food-free treats.
But we didn’t visit a single teal pumpkin house. Here’s why:
- My son needs to know that his allergy is his responsibility and not everyone else’s. Some of his Halloween candy has to go away every year and that’s just the way it is.
- He is 7 and habitually asks if this or that food has peanuts or nuts. He asks everyone…his friends, teachers, grandparents, even me (because once in a while I forget to read a label).
- I want him to keep that habit and develop personal responsibility.
I believe it’s never too early to help a child learn to take responsibility for his or her own health and happiness. Parents and teacher often try to instill in kids a sense of responsibility for their actions towards others, and that’s great. However, teaching children that they are expected to take care of themselves is just as valuable.
Sometimes I feel like I could throw a small rock and hit 100 people who don’t practice enough personal responsibility. Therefore, while I applaud the compassion behind the Teal Pumpkin effort, we kindly decline to participate. My allergy kid will trick or treat like everyone else and trade in most of his candy for a few Smartees and other safe treats.