You know that feeling when a passion of yours is shared by your offspring because of your influence? When you learn that his or her life is significantly better, nay – richer, because you’ve sagely imparted your wisdom and they have actually cared when you’ve spoken?
Yeah, me neither. Except for the time when my son used a Darth Vader reference as a comeback to being teased about having asthma. That, my friends, was a bona fide parenting win.
You see, I’ve loved Darth Vader – the super-villain from the Star Wars movies – since I was a little girl. He’s tall, has a mask to help him breathe – which adds to his mystery, and always looks chic in his black ensembles. I’ve had the pleasure of watching my son become a major Star Wars fan, and as obsessed with Luke Skywalker’s father as I am. We buy anything that has his image, from candy dispensers to toothbrushes, because all I’d spend my money on otherwise are bills and saving for my family’s future, and where’s the fun in that?
So, yes, I’ve encouraged this obsession with Darth Vader, and do firmly see it as the greatest legacy I could leave my son. So when he constructively used something he’s inherited from me, I felt the way parents do when their small children apply a curse word in the correct context: beyond proud.
This is how it went down.
My son, who's now 10, has a number of food allergies, and as often happens, also has asthma. No big deal - it's very common, and we're super proactive about managing it. For example, every year I send him to school with updated asthma and allergy plans, he has fresh medication that's been put together and properly labelled in a kit by our amazing pharmacist, and we speak to any new teachers about it. We're all set.
But being an "asthma and allergy kid" has a side to it that parents might not foresee: other kids. We discovered a few years ago that asthma and allergies can have a little stigma attached to it. The food allergies always get lots of questions like, "how can you eat bread if you're allergic to eggs?" And there have been a few times when my son's been chased with a peanut butter sandwich or boiled egg, because another child wanted to see what would happen.
Asthma's a little different. Kids who don't have asthma usually don't understand the triggers - for my son, it's a cold and hayfever - so all they see is their classmate struggling for breath and needing an inhaler. Most kids are fascinated more than anything. I remember one of the first times I sent my son to school with a brand new puffer that he could give to himself throughout the day, and it came home empty.