Favorite singer: Kyle Dine. My 5-year-old daughter, Pamela, didn't hesitate with her answer as she was filling in a fun questionnaire. We have been enjoying the infectious tunes by the Canadian singer and songwriter Pamela's entire life. Both of his albums, "You Must be Nuts!" (2007) and "Food Allergies Rock!" (2010), hit plenty of fun notes while teaching about food allergies. Whether he is crooning about cool medical identification bracelets or listing all of the foods that might contain eggs, (with the help of squawking chickens, of course) Pamela is singing along with a big smile.
Both Pamela and my 10-year-old son, Joseph, were excited to see him perform recently when he brought his "Let's Go Nuts!" tour to Apex, North Carolina, thanks to our local support group NC FACES (Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely) and FAACT (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team). My kids remembered having a blast three years ago when they saw him perform, and they certainly were not disappointed with his upbeat concert this time.
Pamela had fun dancing right up front and she was proud to hold a Stop sign during Kyle's performance of "Stop! Please Don't Feed Me!" Both kids loved it when puppets Epi-Man and Epi-Man Jr. took the stage to perform their own, funny version of "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"! Joseph was content to clap and stomp his feet to the music from his seat behind the younger, dancing kids. When Kyle asked kids to raise their hands as he called out each of the top 8 allergies and more, it was empowering for Joseph and the other kids with food allergies to see those other hands go up at the same time. With allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard, Joseph's hand was in the air a lot. His face brightened when Kyle's hand went up for many of the same allergies. Kyle is allergic to peanuts, nuts, eggs, seafood and mustard. In addition to the empathy the concert offered, it also reminded Joseph that someone like Kyle, who Joseph considers a cool guy, could travel all over the world and succeed at something he loves to do. Joseph walked out of that room a little taller after Kyle took the time to talk to him about his tennis playing, too.
Pamela does not have food allergies. But she is part of another important group of kids — siblings of children with food allergies. She wants to protect Joseph when he's exposed to an allergen, she understands why she can't eat certain foods near him, she is conscientious about following the rules we have put in place to keep Joseph safe, she gets sad when he is feeling anxious or down about his allergies, and she gets scared for her brother when his asthma acts up. Joseph lives with the knowledge that one bite of food has the potential to end his life. It's important to remember that his sister lives with that knowledge about her brother, too. Not only do her feelings need to be acknowledged, but also it is essential that she be an expert on food allergies just like him. Kyle Dine is helping her be just that. The education he provides through his music and during his performances is invaluable both for kids with food allergies and those close to them. His upbeat music enhances the knowledge Pamela has gained at home with positive lyrics and fun tunes.