Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Annoying Allergies

I must start out by saying that I realize that my family is very blessed that we do not have any allergies in our family. So far nothing seems to bother my kids and we all eat everything, well except for hubby and his veggies, but that is a completely other subject. Therefore I am writing this from my own selfish, perspective.

As a school teacher, I am very aware of the number of kids who have some type of allergy to food, whether milk, gluten, strawberries, or the unspeakable peanut. Each year it seems like I get a few more. Most of the time they are allergic to only one item here or there, so I haven't really had to pay close attention to them, although I did have a peanut girl (yes that is what we all called her) my first year of teaching and that was absolutely miserable. No pbj for me that year as I ate in the room and goodbye to my afternoon snack of pb m&m's (not that I really should have been eating them anyways). Every snack that entered the room I had to scrutinize and let's not even talk about class parties.

While I know it was not something that could be avoided I felt bad for the students who were in the classroom that year as many snacks had to be thrown away, special treats couldn't be shared, and peanut butter, a childhood staple, couldn't be enjoyed by anybody for the whole school year. It seemed like 23 people had to suffer along with 1 girl who actually had the allergy.

What's my point?
Allergies are annoying.
They don't just affect the person who has them, but everybody around the person has to suffer too.

Doesn't seem quite fair.

You are probably wondering where all this is coming from, right?
Last week Zoe had a field trip to a pumpkin patch. Since they were going to be gone during lunch time, parents were asked to pack a lunch for their child. So what does every parent who doesn't have a kid who has a peanut allergy pack? PBJ of course. It's the go-to sandwich. Doesn't have to stay cool, can be squashed, and always ready to eat. Zoe's lunch was packed with fresh fruit and veggies, a juice box, and her field trip ready sandwich and off to school we went.

As I walked in the front door, there on the board was the announcement:

The Pre-K class will be visiting J's pumpkin patch today. Please make sure they are dressed appropriately with sneakers, jeans, and a jacket. Don't forget your child's lunch. No peanut butter products, please!


Crap! Couldn't those kids with the allergy just sit off to a side since they are eating outside? Why does my child have to give up her lunch? (Don't forget I warned you this was a very selfish post!)

Of course, this would be a morning I was already late so what does a late mommy do? Call Daddy to the rescue. Thankfully Dave was able to stop by Wawa and drop off a Lunchable (cause that is so healthy and all) to Zoe, and a crisis was averted.

Zoe had a lunch and
No peanut people were injured.

The only negative result was my agitation because allergies are annoying!

Does your child's school do anything special about peanut allergies?

12 comments:

  1. you aren't alone Mel. I totally relate. I understand all of the precautions, but what happened to a little responsibility. At our daycare, there are kids with peanut allergies, but the teachers know it and don't let them get anything they shouldn't have. I still get to pack PB&J's on a regular basis.
    At my daughters soccer game once the coach came over and chastised me because I had peanut butter crackers for my daughter. They were just for her but he was all over it cause his son had an allergy and all. I was like OK - wasn't planning on sharing them. Oh well - what can we do.

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  2. I totally get it! My kids do not have any food allergies and although i feel bad for the kids who do (since they miss out on things like PBJs and Reese's {YUM}) i dont understand why it affects them so much to have someone near then eating something. Is it a curtusy thing we do to not make them feel bad or is it really about the allergy. Maybe i am being naive and just dont understand who knows. Either way our who county school system has a strict ban on any peanut product. They call it a nut free zone.

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  3. It is the responsibility of the child and the parent of the child to monitor their allergies. At preschool, we teach the children who have allergies to be aware of the food served to them so that they learn to moderate it themselves. Of course, we as teachers make sure to help them monitor it; but they have to learn it at some point and the earlier the better.

    I know sometimes peanut butter is a trickier subject because sometimes this allergie can actually be airborn (I've actually seen a person go into anafalactic shock just because there was a peanut butter smell in the air, but it's rare). However, I do not think that the majority needs to be inconvenienced for one person. I think that, in itself, if completely self centered.

    I understand wanting to protect your own child; but you do that by educating them in how to protect themselves, not by forcing the public to play along.

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  4. I agree with you that the allergy thing is annoying. However I can also see how the child with the allergy wouldn't want to have to sit at a special table to avoid the dreaded peanut butter. My daughter's kindergarten teacher had a rule that if any child brought pbj for lunch or any peanut containing snack, they were to let the teacher know when they arrived that morning. (or the parent could send a note) The teacher would just make sure that when they sat down to eat, no allergic kiddos were sitting by the offending nuts. That way nobody was singled out and nobody had to pack a special lunch. I thought that was a great way to keep everyone safe and happy.

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  5. Our Homeschool group faced this issue and decided that it wasn't fair to 90% of the group to avoid foods that only 10% couldn't be near. So instead we decided that 1) no food sharing!
    2) wash up after eating
    3) If you're so allergic that even that isn't enough then you'll need to leave.

    we did have one family leave the group over it...they had a wheat allergy apparently (years later we found out she was misdiagnosed!)

    We totally believe in teaching and empowering the child with the allergy to be their own advocate. Because if they don't learn to avoid it when they are young, how are they supposed to deal later in life. And honestly I think the reason that food allergies are such an issue now is that folks aren't teaching their kids how to deal with it themselves. Way back when we were kids you didn't see kids so allergic that they couldn't even sit near it.

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  6. When I was teaching a few years ago we had a student that would break out in blisters if she touched anything that had peanut oils on them. We had an entirely new system in place. No eating was allowed in the classrooms (I was pregnant at the time and it was hard to deal with - never taught the child either). The lunch room also had a PB free table. In addition to this we were taught how to use EpiPens just in case. We actually had a training session. I am glad since I found out one of the kids I taught had a sever wasp allergy and my classroom had a wasp issue that year. Oy! Allergies are beyond annoying and scary as well.

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  7. As a parent of a child with no allergies, I hear your! And, I have heard this from soooo many other parents.

    But, I think if my child had a life-threatening allergy to peanuts (or some other thing), I would think a little differently. Two year olds at daycare are not going to remember to wash their hands everytime before touching their friends/toys. And, the burden of that can't be put all on the teacher.

    Personally, my daycare has declared themselves to be "peanut free", but it's a total joke. One parent put BABY RUTHS in treat bags for my son's class. I could really care less b/c we have no allergies, but hello?

    It's also super annoying because we cannot bring in any homemade treats for birthdays or other parties. It must be pre-packaged so they can double check the label. So, your choices are pretty much oreos, string cheese, pretzels, or fuit cups. Whoopee. The funny thing is that they do allow donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. When right on the door it says that they can't guarantee that anything is peanut free.

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  8. annoying for sure! I haven't had anyone severely allergic to peanuts but I have a kid this year who can't EAT them. Easy to deal with yes. One of my teammates has a kid who is so allergic to peanuts that he can go into anaphalactic shock in minutes if he gets near it. The mom felt it necessary to give a speech at back to school night for all the parents and sent home a letter also. I understand her being so careful but on the other hand it seems as though she went a little overboard.

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  9. I was the snack coordinator at our co-op preschool a few years ago and boy was the peanut allergy a burden. I understand that if your child has a severe allergy how you wouldn't want your child to miss out on experiences just because there is the potential of exposure to peanuts. Especially at the preschool age.

    But the policy at the school was so extreme. I had to do a survey of eveyrthing at Trader Joes and Costco that we purchased to make sure that it wasn't even processed on equipment with any type of nuts. I had a spreadsheet of all the okay foods that I could use on the menu. It was so insane. Needless to say, I took a different job the following year.

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  10. Such a tough one! I too get annoyed by the expectation that everybody else has to change the way they do things to help the allergic child. However, I had a friend whose daughter had a severe peanut allergy and got to see the other side of it where you are constantly worried that peanut residue will be present. I saw her daughter break out in a rash after playing in a play area where some kid had been eating a peanutty snack. Just required some cream, but the epi-pen was always at the ready. Now, she did bring her own treats for her daughter to have whenever people were having treats.

    Anyway, I think it's reasonable to say no food-sharing and to really focus on hand-washing and keeping desks clean (helps prevent sick germs too!) and make sure that everyone is aware of the issue. But I don't think it's right to tell other people that their kids can't eat certain foods because of it.

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  11. I am glad you at least you are aware of how selfish and self centered you are. Let me explain my daughter's life to you.
    She married a man who could be described as the boy in the bubble. Maybe you saw the movie. He was allergic to air along with everything else outside as well as many food allergies. They have four children. The youngest, Kevin, is allergic to:
    EGGS, OATS, SOY, TOMATO, KIWI, PINEAPPLE, FISH, SHELLFISH, BELL PEPPERS, ORANGES, LEMONS, GRAPEFRUIT, ALL CITRUS AND ORIENTAL NOODLS FLAVOURINGS.
    Before Kevin was two, he grabbed an egg and broke it. He touched a tiny amount to his lips and went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. That is sometimes how allergies are found. A number of years ago a girl in Toronto had a friend over. The friend made herself a peanut butter sandwich, handwashed the knife she used and placed it in the dishrack. The girl then used that knife and was DEAD TWENTY MINUTES LATER because there was a speck of peanut butter left on that knife!
    My daughter spends 3 hours a week shopping for groceries because she has to read every label of every product she buys. Many products change their formula often. She has to keep her family safe.
    She made shirts for Kevin with Please don't feed me, I have food allergies written on them.
    He has to be watched constantly because well meaning people offer kids cookies and milk and those cookies could KILL him.
    On top of all of that, people like you want him to be isolated and treated like he has some contagious disease.
    You are bitching because you have to give up having peanut butter for a few short hours a day. You can eat all you want at home.
    It may be selfish of me but I want my grandson to live as much like a normal child as possible and survive school. I don't want him to die because of someone like you is annoyed. If you even kiss a child with a peanut allergies after you have eaten peanut butter, You could kill that child. Think about that!!!
    As far as I am concerned LADY, you shouldn't even be teaching. Parents should be told how heartless and selfish you really are. You are unbelievable!!!

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  12. Wow. Let me start off by saying that if the author and commenters actually had a child with severe allergies you would be singing a very different tune. I had 2 children with no allergies and remember feeling slightly annoyed at my daughter's dance rehearsal because my precious angel wasn't allowed to have peanut butter due to 2 girls' severe allergies. Not my problem.. Well, I now have a 22 month old son, he's extremely smart, handsome and adorable... And has several severe allergies. When he was 9 months old I broke a club cracker into pieces so he could practice feeding himself. I had my back turned to him talking to my mom and when I turned around to check on him what I saw was horrifying. His entire face and hands up to the wrist (anywhere he had contact with the cracker) had broken out in hives. His eyes were nearly swollen shut and he was scratching his face like crazy. We took him to the allergist and he has been diagnosed with severe wheat, egg, peanut, and cashew allergies. Cashew is extremely severe. His allergist has warned is that every reaction will most likely be worse than the previous one. He has had several blood and skin-prick tests and reactions to confirm these allergies. He also has intolerance/mild allergy to dairy and bananas. He has thankfully outgrown oats. His allergist has said there is basically 0 chance of him outgrowing the nut allergies. There are 4 epipen jrs in my house at this moment. Do you have any idea what it's like to know that your child's next reaction could be the one that kills him, and to know that other people simply don't care? You don't care that my son will never know the joy of a pb&j on a summer day, because its not your problem. All you are concerned with is will you be SLIGHTLY inconvenienced with having to make your child a different lunch 1 day. Guess what? I have to do it multiple times a day, every day. "Well then your child needs to leave" really? My child needs to leave because of some extremely petty adults who can't be mature for 1 day? I wish allergies didn't exist. I didn't ask for this life and neither did my son. But this is our life and my son is worth it. He absolutely deserves to have people at least try to understand how difficult something as simple as going out to eat can be. I don't know if I will be able to send him to school. Knowing there are people like you in this world makes me never want to let him out of my sight. It could be your child next.

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Go ahead...tell me like it is!

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