My Son Failed the Peanut Challenge
More BabbleStories

My Son Failed the Peanut Challenge

Written by Susan Macarelli

“His face is really swollen.  How long has it been like this?” a concerned nurse said to me in the emergency room as she looked at my 13 month old baby boy.

My Son Failed the Peanut ChallengeAn hour earlier I gave him peanut butter on bread for the first time.  Minutes into the delicious sandwich, Rocco started slapping himself and rubbing his eyes.  At first we were charmed by his cute mealtime show, but we quickly grew concerned. Red splotches appeared all over his torso and face (yes his torso was visible, because much like Joe Dirt’s close relatives, our kids often partake in topless dinners).

My husband was the first one to put two and two together and take away the peanut butter.  Carry the one, and the hives kept coming.  Rocco was getting itchier by the minute.  My mind escalated this reaction to all sorts of drastic scenarios, and I decided to take him to the emergency room.

“How long has it been like this?”

Sheepishly I said, “Ummm, that’s just what his cheeks look like in real life.”  I actually said ‘real life’, because the ER is apparently a parallel universe for me, where cheeks may or may not take on their ‘real life’ form.

Rocco and I have a lot of similarities, and much like I carry my weight in my hips, he carries it in his cheeks.  The nurse looked a little surprised that a kid’s head and face could have that much surface area, but seemed to believe me.  It was just hives, no swelling.

Fast forward a year and a half to a blood test showing that he has potentially outgrown his peanut allergy.

Enter The Peanut Challenge. Yep, that’s what his allergist suggested.

When I heard this, I had visions of a Jif whack-a-mole scenario or him wading through a quicksand of peanut butter wearing only his diaper and war paint.  Maybe a throw down between him and Mr. Peanut where Rocco crushes that condescending monocle in his bare hands?  In reality, we had to go to the doctor’s office and let them give him tiny bits of peanut butter in increasing quantities while they observed him.

The boy is a two and a half year old letter and number whiz, but there are a few areas where he falls short:  physical coordination, anger management, and peanut resistance.  The third peanut butter installation did him in.  Within minutes he had hives all over his mouth and neck.  Benadryl was administered and the hives subsided.

Question: Why it is that I have had the same zit on my chin for three weeks but Rocco’s hives left nary a trace a mere 45 minutes after being medicated?

My little voice had been telling me that he would fail the Peanut Challenge, so I wasn’t really surprised when he did.  He’ll probably fail lots more things in the future, but as with any failure, we learn from it. Isn’t that the point?

We learned that if Rocco gets a little lick of peanut butter somewhere down the road, he will probably get some nasty hives that can be cured with Benadryl.  We learned that although it is a scary allergy and sometimes inconvenient, he isn’t as bad off as some people with peanut allergies.  We learned that we need to be on the lookout for a worse reaction if he ever accidentally eats more than a tiny bit of peanut (EpiPen at the ready).  Finally, we learned that a little Benadryl triggers a 6 hour nap, perfect for when Mom wants to get some blog writing done.


Susan MacarelliAbout the Author: Susan’s writes humor on her blog, Pecked To Death By Chickens, though occasionally she’ll reveal her soft underbelly (both in her writing, and by accident when bending over to pick up a stray french fry her kids tracked in). Susan also helps other bloggers get featured on the websites they aspire to, via her blog resource site Her essay in the hilarious I Still Just Want To Pee Alone parenting anthology, and features on sites like BlogHer, Mamapedia, Mamalode, In The Powder Room, BonBon Break and HuffPost help feed her attention-seeking behavior.  Follow Susan on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Mom Babble

    A laugh and a dose of awareness from Pecked to Death By Chickens!

  2. Susan Maccarelli

    I’m so excited to be featured here on Mom Babble today! I’m curious how many readers have peanut allergic kids and if any have had a peanut challenge — successful or otherwise.

  3. Susan Lee Maccarelli

    Thanks for publishing this on Mom Babble! Allergies can be scary, but I have been able to find some humor in his. I’m hoping that one day I have a post about how he passes the peanut challenge!

  4. Denise Scott Geelhart

    So far we’ve been lucky with our girls passing.

  5. Melissa Mowry

    Love this! The Joe Dirt metaphor just kills me Susan.

  6. Jennifer Wolfe

    It must have been so scary to discover this! I’ve noticed more and more kids with nut allergies coming into my classroom each year – makes me think something has changed in the way we process peanuts or tree nuts to trigger all these allergies. Good luck.

  7. Alexia Herbowy Conrad

    Surprisingly we are not allergic to peanut butter but we ARE allergic to strawberries. Well, we know for sure the girls are. Theo won’t touch a food unless it’s pureed into a smoothie so we avoid it with him.

  8. Andrea B.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t have a peanut-allergy child, but know so many people who do. I never really knew there was a “challenge” of sorts like this! Enjoyed your humorous take.

  9. Rabia @TheLiebers

    No peanut allergies here! My middle son is allergic to Ibuprofen, though. That one took a while to figure out. Especially since I’d never heard of that allergy before.

  10. Joy

    Sorry that he hasn’t fully outgrown it yet, Susan. I hope he still does in the future. I love anything peanut and thank the Lord that Noah doesn’t have any food allergies…(except he CLAIMS he’s allergic to cheese, eggs and cilantro…grrrrrr….the joys of having an extremely olfactory child). Anyway, glad to know Benadryl works!

  11. Susanne Lewis Kerns

    Somehow my kids don’t have food allergies but my pregnancy with my son gave me a fresh tomato & shrimp allergy. Ah, parenthood.

  12. Elizabeth Thompson

    The ER is also a parallel universe for me. I get the “real life” bit. Here’s hoping he passes his next PB test, poor guy…and poor you. I’m sure you are ready to not have to monitor his diet so closely. But hey…a 6-hour Benadryl-induced nap is a mom good trick to keep in your back pocket in case of writer’s block emergencies. Heh heh. 😉

  13. Susan Maccarelli

    I had never heard of the challenge either until he told us about it. Oh, and it takes hours if they actually pass the challenge, so you have to bring all sorts of entertainment since you are in a boring doctors room the whole time.

  14. Susan Maccarelli

    I’ve never heard of an ibuprofin allergy, but I am allergic to Aleve (naproxen), so I believe it! Unfortunately I found out after having my daughter when the hospital gave me large amounts after my c-section. My blood pressure, which is usually super low, skyrocketed to 200/100 and I had to stay in the hospital for a week. My dad also has low blood pressure that spikes when he takes Aleve, which is bizarre because I don’t think they list it as a side effect and I have never heard of anyone else having that problem.

  15. Susan Maccarelli

    Cheese, eggs and cilantro? That sounds like the ingredients to something delicious!

  16. Susan Maccarelli

    It really doesn’t bother me now that we know what we are dealing with. Other people have such worse medical issues to deal with. It might stink for him when he gets older though and knows what he is missing.

  17. Chris Carter

    Oh how I love that you can add humor to something that I’m sure was a scary situation!! I’m so glad you have the knowledge you need to take care of your (shirtless) cutie with this allergy! (I totally get the shirtless dinner scenario!)

    I’m so glad you can benefit from the Benedryl! LOL

  18. Rabia Lieber

    This would scare me too! So far the only allergies we’ve seen at my house are pineapple (fresh only) and Ibuprofen. Both pretty easy to avoid.

  19. Tina Witte

    I have a child with peanut/tree nut allergies. I would love to learn more of these ‘challenge’ tests and will ask her allergist at an upcoming appointment! Thanks for sharing your experiences

  20. Sarah Honey

    I’m so lucky my son passed! I love peanut butter!

Leave a Reply

Terrarium tv