Tracy Beckerman is the author of a wildly popular syndicated humor column called LOST IN SUBURBIA and a hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan”. It's all about the funny side of kids, dogs, husbands, and life in the 'burbs!

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An Allergy Primer for Beginners

Spring is a tough time of year for us mothers. With all of our deductive reasoning skills, amateur sleuthing talents, and mommy radar, many moms still can’t tell the difference between a kid who has pollen allergies and one who has a cold.

Why does this matter, you might ask?

Well, not to be rude, but the kids with allergies are welcome in my house. The kids with colds? Not so much.

It’s not that I have anything against the kids with colds: It’s their germs I could do without.

Even if I frantically run around the house wiping down every surface with industrial strength anti-bacterial spray, within a week of having a sick child at my house, my entire family will be sick, including the dog.

Before you can say “expectorant,” we’ve got the nebulizers running on full tilt, the counters are overflowing with Pediacare, and our house looks like we’ve won a year’s supply of Kleenex tissues.

Next thing I know, the kids have an ear infection, the dog has an ear infection, everybody’s on antibiotics, and I want to run screaming to the airport and catch a plane to the

nearest desert island.
With that kind of scenario, is it any wonder I break out in hives when a kid with a runny nose walks into my house?

Now, I’m certainly no candidate for Mother-of-the-Year, but when my kids are sick, I tend to, um, oh, you know… KEEP THEM HOME!!! I don’t think that’s such a crazy concept. It’s my feeling that my fellow mothers just wouldn’t appreciate having my drippy, icky, coughing, wheezing, hacking, germ-terrorist of a child invading their home. I would think they would feel similarly. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There have been many times that I warmly opened the door to my child’s playdate, only to be greeted by a wet sneeze in my face.

“Hi, this is Tracy Beckerman,” I said to the other mom over the phone. “I think your daughter is sick.”

“Oh no,” protested the other mom. “She just has allergies. It’s that time of year, you know?”

“Well, she was lying down on my kitchen floor and there was green stuff coming out of her nose and her head spun around a couple of times and then she levitated so I took her temperature and she has 108° and I’m pretty sure she’s sick.”

“Wow, she must have come down with that suddenly,” said the other mom in an Oscar-worthy performance. “She was fine when she left the house!”

Yes, I’m sure in the time it took for them to drive the five minutes over to my house, her daughter contracted swine flu and became horribly ill within seconds of walking in my door. It happens all the time.

Ultimately I persuaded the other mom to come pick up her daughter before the Center for Disease Control quarantined my house. I then crossed the child off the future playdate list. Unfortunately, my daughter really liked this particular child, so after some time passed, we were all healthy again, and my memory of the event had faded, I decided to give the mom another chance.

Two months later the little girl arrived at my house, and defying all odds, she was sick again.

“Hi, this is Tracy Beckerman,” I said over the phone. “I think your daughter is sick again.”

“Oh no,” protested the other mom. “It’s allergies.”

“OK,” I said. “That’s not a problem. I just thought if she was sick you might not want her exposed to Chicken Pox.”

“Your kids have Chicken Pox?????”

“Well, they’re both covered in spots and they never had Chicken Pox,” I mused. “But it’s probably just allergies, right?”

She sighed. “I’ll be right over.”

©2008, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more Lost in Suburbia, visit Tracy Beckerman at, and check out her hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan” at Amazon and