18 Oct
I’m Allergic To Your Attitude

Today we are excited to welcome Ryan, who writes the wonderful and delicious blog, Will’s Kitchen. Will is Ryan’s son who was diagnosed with multiple allergies at a very early age. Now three years old, Will and Ryan cook together, creating recipes that use uncommon ingredients. Witty writing and fantastic recipes? Yes, please!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My son has just started preschool. He has a severe peanut allergy and as a result of this the school has instituted a new policy with regard to lunches and snacks, restricting foods that have been made with nuts.

This new policy has made a number of parents angry and worried about what they are now supposed to pack for their kids. To make matters worse the director of the school recently “outed” my son at a parent-teacher meeting as the cause for this new policy.

How do I handle the judgment and frustration I’m getting from these other parents? And how do I get them to understand my son’s problem?

Signed,

Put Down The Pitchforks

______________________________________

Dear Pitchforks,

First of all, I’m very surprised to hear that the preschool didn’t have a no-nuts policy to begin with! This is a global issue that receives a lot of attention, so even if your son is the first child in the school with the peanut allergy — he certainly will not be the last.

Kudos to the policy, you should be proud! Allergies in general have always gotten a bad rap when it comes to taking them seriously, from pollen to bees to peanuts, and with peanut butter being a staple in most American diets — denial is rampant.

Is it a problem that the other parents now have to think creatively outside of the peanut box, sending the tykes off to preschool without their Snickers Bars or peanut butter filled sodium bomb pretzels? Or is it because you are asking people to take the time to read the ingredients? Ā  Because, damn you for making other parents realize what their kids are eating! Apples these days are quite yummy.

But the issue at hand is that your son is different and others are being affected as a result. As with all allergies, everyone needs to take on the “village to raise a child” mentality. This is almost impossible to ask of others, so you’re going to have to take the initiative to show how serious the situation actually is.

In the case of Will, my preschool aged son, who is not only allergic to peanuts but also eggs, cow’s milk, tree nuts, strawberries and bananas, I offer to bring in snacks for the whole class. I also generated a list of alternative foods and brands for his teachers and other parents –to alert them that on the grocery shelf right next to the pretzels that were manufactured in a facility that handles peanuts, there is usually another brand that is completely peanut-free.

A simple switch in brands is relatively painless even for the parents most resistant to change. In addition, there are numerous resources online that make dealing with this issue even easier. Helping the other parents to understand will make them feel more comfortable, and it won’t hurt your standing with the teachers at the next parents night either.

Once people are shown how easy it can be to manage the allergy list, their eyes kind of find their way back into their sockets. Unfortunately, as with life, there are always going to be the haters that refuse to change and fight about conforming to new policies — if only it were a perfect world!

Signed,

Ryan, Guest Mouthy Housewife

78 Responses to “I’m Allergic To Your Attitude”

10.18.11#1

Comment by Mom Of Two.

Ryan,

I don’t appreciate you suggesting that because parents are frustrated by the school going nut free that it’s a result of them mindlessly spreading Skippy on white bread day after day for their child’s lunch & never reading labels. Just because parents would like the option of sending their child with nut products does not mean that the lunches & snacks are devoid of nutritional value.

Unsalted nuts are a very healthy snack, as are Kashi trail mix bars & organic, natural peanut butter spread on celery sticks or apples. If you are really want other parents to get behind the nut free plight, then perhaps it’s best NOT to insult them. Snickers bars & peanut butter sodium filled pretzel bombs? Really? Get off your nutty high horse.

Dear Pitchfork,

As a mother of a son with a life threatening illness, I understand your concern about your son’s allergy. While no parent wants a child to be in danger, I think some parents would like to see schools & parents of children with nut allergies take the whole school into consideration & make a better compromise.

Last year, my son’s school had a “nut free” class. All of the children with food allergies were in one class. Though this worked well & there weren’t any incidents, there was pressure from the parents of children with nut allergies for the whole school to ban nut products. There were also children with egg allergies, but the school didn’t go “egg free”, so it just appears to other parents that the nut allergy parents are making unfair demands of the school, and therefore other parents & children.

When the food allergy class worked out so well, I don’t understand the need to make the whole school go nut free. After all, in preschool they typically don’t eat in a lunch room or cafeteria. Also, what do you do when your child is in public? At restaurants, birthday parties, etc?

My son has serious congenital heart defects which have required two open heart surgeries, and he is only 2 years old. With his heart condition, even the most common, benign virus can lead to a hospital stay, or worse. However, I don’t ask that the school send home every child with a runny nose. I talk to the administration, teachers, and parent’s in my son’s class. I explain his condition & the importance of hand washing & what a virus could mean for him & hope that if their child appears to be ill, they keep them home. It is all I can do without being disruptive.

I think parents of children without nut allergies would simply like to see a better compromise (the food allergy class). That is the frustration you are facing.

Hoping For Compromise,
Mom Of Two

Marinka Reply:

I have to ask: what is so frustrating about the school going nut-free?

Mom of Two Reply:

Marinka,

It’s frustrating because though I read labels & ingredients when I first purchase a product, I haven’t committed to memory every single ingredient in every thing that my child eats. Also, can I send hummus? I realize it’s made of chickpeas, but there are pine nuts on top. Many of our favorite granola bars are out, most trail mix that I buy at Whole Foods is a no-no, many of our favorite breads are out as well. Not to mention having to purchase separate things from what we like & prefer our child to eat only for him to eat at school. It’s frustrating that a compromise is out of the question.

On one hand these parents are saying that it’s a few simple changes, and on the other hand saying what a challenge it is that they must always find foods that are nut free. It’s frustrating because though plenty of children have health issues (mine included who I mentioned above), we must all kowtow to the nut allergy issue.

Though I’m being raked over the coals & referred to as a Nazi for suggesting a food allergy class, what I was envisioning was the class at my son’s school where there were three children who had food allergies & the other 9 students did not, but were asked to refrain from bringing egg & nut products to school. I don’t see anything wrong with that… or the concept of a compromise.

kokopuff Reply:

I totally agree with you…what you are doing as a parent with a nut-allergic child is asking EVERY OTHER PARENT in your child’s program to undertake the time-consuming steps you take when you go grocery shopping, etc. And that’s too much to ask, frankly. Some of us working parents are too busy to take into consideration all that other stuff…I love the idea of an allergy class. Works well. What is your issue with that, Marinka?

Marinka, TMH Reply:

Thank you, I appreciate the response.

Mom of Two Reply:

I’m really not unsympathetic to the issue. I care about every child’s safety at school. My primary concern is that I’m asked to be responsible for the safety of these kids. As N & Em’s Mom said, it’s far more complicated than not packing the (apparently taboo) peanut butter sandwich. There are many foods that have peanut oil, or are packaged in a place where peanuts are present. So, to say that it’s simple & “thinking outside of the peanut box” – is not the whole truth. *That* is why I suggested a food allergy classroom where there are food restrictions on the children in that class. It’s not just a matter of inconvenience or forcing everyone to follow someone else’s dietary restrictions… it’s about doing what is overall best for everyone.

Truthfully the only reason I even responded was because of Ryan’s terrible way of “jokingly” slamming other parents & the comment about me on another website. Judge me if that makes you feel better about yourself & your situation (clearly you have a big chip on your shoulder). Your condescending attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere… even in the guise of humor. I think the real attitude problem comes from the people like Ryan who are upset by their own situation in dealing with their child’s food allergy. Misery loves company. It’s very evident in the defensive & rude way Ryan & others have written about it.

The negativity & judgement is absurd because I happen to *gasp* have a different opinion than Ryan. I’ve never been a fan of zealots, no matter the issue. It’s a shame that anyone who has a different opinion below is bracing themselves for backlash b/c of Ryan. All of my friends who read this site regularly are shocked & offended. Especially because most of us are Jewish & I was referred to as a Nazi (really not funny).

I’m happy to see some other people have not been afraid to comment even though it went against Ryan’s all or nothing approach.

10.18.11#2

Comment by Cate8.

As an ancient mother with 8 kids ranging from 29 to 5 I have ridden the ‘peanut allergy wave’. My baby is finally in Kindergarten (Full day !!!) She is in an inclusion class – which I love. The respect for kids with differences whether physical, emotional or ‘food’ is just an everyday thing. In the morning after peanut butter on toast for breakfast she says “gotta make sure I brush my teeth extra so I won’t have peanut breath”.
To me the hard part of lunches and snacks is the new ‘healthy’ rule!!! Now filling the lunchbox with chips and cookies is a NO-NO.!!! {But the good news in her classroom is the mom of the kids with the allergies will bring in all the snacks for holiday parties!! YA! that let’s me off the hook!~}

.Healthy Snacks! an oxymoron
.. and to think I let my kids drink KoolAid, ride bikes with no helmet, sleep on their tummies as infants (the doctors recommended it back then!!), watch way too much Sponge Bob, and go outside without sunblock!

Ry Sal Reply:

Dear Oh Wise One,
I would never use “ancient”, rather amazingly experienced! If only others would have the same laid-back attitude of acceptance, making things safe for all kids would be SO much easier!

10.18.11#3

Comment by Plano Mom.

I like the education angle. I also agree, although not quite so strongly, that Ryan seemed to have lumped all parents into the idiot parent category. I understand that feeling.

How about educating the children as well? It seems to me if you get them engaged, they’ll be happy to help keep their classmate safe.

Ry Sal Reply:

Very good point! Having the other children understand is a major hurdle, but it does start with the understanding of their parents.

It was not my intention to point the finger at all parents, but rather the ones that Put Down The Pitchfork was referring to. My apologies if taken out of context.

10.18.11#4

Comment by Bean.

My daughters’ preschool gets around this issue entirely by providing all the food they need while they’re there.

10.18.11#5

Comment by VG.

I don’t think Ryan meant any disrespect with his “nutty” references – he was trying to point out that there’s more to life (and food) than the old staples (PBJ).
Now, before you all come raging towards me – I’m not a fan of peanut butter, and I’m not allergic to it, never had a PB&J in my life. My daughter isn’t allergic to it, but her Day Care/Preschool has instituted a No-Nut Policy for the whole place. Is it a pain? Sometimes, but it’s only one of the many challenges we face as parents in today’s world.

I do like what Mom Of Two stated about a special class where all the kids who have food allergies can be with. That’s a great idea! It not only gives them the safety they deserve, but also gives the freedom the other children who don’t have any food allergies deserve as well. It’s all about compromise and don’t we want to teach children to be this way later on in life and not be so rigid??

Don’t be surprised if one day, there will be actual FOOD ALLERGY SCHOOLS that will only accept those who are allergic to certain types of foods… just sayin’

Mindy Reply:

I totally agree with what you said. Even though my daughter does not have any allergies, she has been in classes (at the same time) with two kids who did have allergies. One was allergic to milk and the other was not aloud to have Red dye. You don’t realize how many foods have those two ingredients in them until you try to find some that don’t. Yes it was a pain, but like VG said that’s just one or many challenges that we as parents are going to run into. I also see the purpose behind classes for those kids who do have allergies, but my question is this: Will separating this kids into their own classes just give kids something else to be teased or bullied about?

Ry Sal Reply:

Is segregation ever a good idea unless the circumstances are extreme as in serious disabilities? And where is this line drawn? At Red Dye? Peanuts? Gluten? Eggs?… The list goes on and on.

Everyone that has a food allergy suffers from a different degree of seriousness, not to mention that some who can eat bananas would have to be warded off with others that can’t…

VG Reply:

But in turn, is it fair to have parents like myself with a child who ISN’T allergic have to conform to the No-Insert the Food Allergy Here Policy???

See how this starts a major fights?
Though I wouldn’t wish any degree of medical affliction on any child… it’s just rough.

10.18.11#6

Comment by Tonya.

I agree with VG, I don’t think Ryan meant any disrespect with the “Snickers, et al” references. It was meant to be funny.

Personally, I agree with the No-Nut policy (I also apply this policy in my personal life to people…it doesn’t always work) but as a parent of a child who does not have an allergy it is difficult to find certain substitutes, for instance organic, non-nut bread is impossible and I live in NYC! That being said, however, I totally support the need for a child and his/her parents to feel safe when they go to school.

And I do know from experience that parents of non-allergy kids can sometimes be judgmental when it limits the options their children can bring to school. I commend Ryan for offering a list of foods to the other parents at her school. I wish someone had done that for us.

10.18.11#7

Comment by AmyK.

I am a bit insulted that Ryan seems to think that all parents who find other kids allergies a bit frustrating are morons who don’t care to read labels.

My first grade son has THREE kids in his class of 19 that have nut allergies. I have no problems with sending him with nut-free stuff. What I didn’t appreciate was the school not giving a heads-up until a day before school started, and not explaining anything.

Thankfully, ONE parent of an allergic kid emailed the rest of us, explaining her kid’s allergy and what he could/could not be around. If the letter writer is upset over being “outed”, it would help immensely to personally speak with the other parents and actually explain the allergy. It also helps to know what kids are allergic when it comes to playdates/ bday parties. etc.

There is really nothing worse for me than to see a kid bringing their own food to my kid’s bday party. Just tell me! Can’t have strawberries? Not an issue. Egg allergy? I will stock Tofutti bars. Nut free? I’ve got a bakery for that. But don’t HIDE the allergy.

And PLEASE don’t assume that because my kids are not allergic, that I’m stuffing them with non-healthy crap.

LZ Reply:

As a mom of 2 kids with multiple allergies, I would never tell a hostess about an allergy and expect her to make/buy special food for us. Aside from the inconvenience, I would want to be certain about the food. It’s not meant to be insulting, but just the opposite.

Susan Reply:

Totally understandable that you would not want her to feel obligated to provide special food, etc. But for safety reasons I would think it would be best to let the hostess know about the allergy just in case the child were to eat any of that food. Not knowing could be very dangerous depending of course on the allergy.

10.18.11#8

Comment by LZ.

I completely disagree with the food allergy classroom. A food allergy is not a disability and there is no reason to lump all the allergic kids together. Completely absurd. Allergic kids should grow up with only other allergic kids in their class? Ridiculous. Sure fire way for a child to feel like something’s wrong with them instead of taking minor precautions to ensure that all kids can go to school safely.
It’s a simple fact of life. Peanut allergies can be life threatening. Is your PB&J sandwich really that important that you’d risk your son/daughter’s friend’s safety, or even life, because they won’t eat something else?
I have 2 peanut allergic children. Before their diagnosis, I would never dream of fussing about someone else asking that I didn’t eat nut products around their allergic children. It’s a no-brainer. It’s common human decency and courtesy, and if it’s THAT much of an issue to pick something else for lunch, it’s really not a bigger problem that an allergy.

VG Reply:

There will always be things that kids will pick on other kids for… TRUST ME! I have 1st hand experience on that particular issue.

I just meant the separate classroom idea purely as a safety precaution. What IF your 2 children came in contact with a nut product while at school and have a reaction? Are you not going to fuss about it when they’re calling you to let you know they had to use the Epi-pen and call the EMTs to cart your kid(s) away to the local ER? I highly doubt it.. and it’s a natural reaction.

Plus, there are other areas that kids are segregated for school. Reading groups, learning abilities, one gender only schools, talent-based schools… there’s no problem with those right???

10.18.11#9

Comment by Jess.

To deal with peanut allergies my children’s school, there is a “peanut free” table in the cafeteria. Anyone can sit there as long as they don’t have peanuts in their lunch. As someone who has family with food allergies, although nothing as dangerous as a peanut allergy, I always ask teachers if there are allergies in my child’s class before I send in a snack. When there was a gluten allergy, I would send in gluten free cookies for the child so that she could have a goodie along with all the other kids.
I simply do not see the “inconvenience” of not endangering a child. My kids know that the child in their class has an allergy and certain things can make them sick. They see it as taking care of a friend to remind me that we can’t have chocolate in our class because their friend is allergic and it could hurt them.

Ry Sal Reply:

wow, Jess – thank you for being so proactive!

10.18.11#10

Comment by Marinka, TMH.

Awesome ideas, Ryan.

My kids don’t have any allergies (except to penicillin, but fortunately other parents aren’t using that as an ingredient yet in the kids’ lunches) so when I found out that my very picky will only eat peanut butter sandwiches son was in a “nut-free” room it was absolutely an inconvenience.

But I didn’t think for a moment that my and my son’s inconvenience was on the same level as another child’s life threatening allergy.

(And that year my son ate butter sandwiches every day. Yes, butter sandwiches. Don’t try this diet at home, ladies.)

Tonya Reply:

I love butter sandwiches! They really like my thighs.

10.18.11#11

Comment by this side of typical.

first of all–isn’t this supposed to be humor? if Ryan had written a completely serious post, it wouldn’t belong here. LIghten up people.

IT’s amazing to me how people can really get jacked up over this issue. I mean there was the story last year about a little girl who was asked to leave the school because the parents of the non-allergic kids were upset about the protocols placed around her. It seems rather nuts to me–pardon the completely intended pun.

Maybe i’m sensitive because i am the mother of a “different” child. He doesn’t have food allergies (that we know of), but he does have Autism. I am acutely aware of the fight we have against some parents who feel our kids should be separate in order to make their children’s lives easier. ANd it hurts, people.

so, lets see the joke for what it is, and maybe not be so defensive?

Tonya Reply:

Very well said. Thank you.

Amy Reply:

Totally agree. Heaven forbid someone has to deviate from their narrow little path for the sake of someone else. And as for the segregation nazis? Um, WTF? Yes, let’s just put everyone except your perfect little angels into a bubble so you won’t have to deal. What a terrific idea.

10.18.11#12

Comment by While the rest of you are out PROTESTING... | For the Birds.

[…] the right way to reach the food weary audience. One such response came from the lovely ladies at The Mouthy Housewives — whom I join today in answering a very important question regarding peanut/nut-free policies […]

10.18.11#13

Comment by Amanda.

I think we can all agree that much of Ryan’s observations and asides were meant to be tongue in cheek (I don’t think the author assumes we stuff our kids with junk if they don’t suffer from food allergies) and offer a witty spin on what is no doubt a hot button issue for parents. It helps to bring some levity into a difficult conversation about children and food allergies.

That being said, bottom line is peanut allergies can be life threatening. Thankfully my little guy does not suffer from food allergies, however, if he did I would expect that other parents would understand the severity of the situation and being that it is a fairly simple to accommodate would simply agree so provide any of the numerous other non-nut related snacks to their children. Additionally, singling a child out for having an allergy strikes me as ludicrous, don’t children have enough to deal with (like potentially life threatening allergies, etc) without being made to feel like they are ruining all the nut-eating fun for the rest of the class? It seems to me that forgoing a few nut-related snacks is a small price to pay for the safety and peace of mind of the child and his or her parents.

Ry Sal Reply:

applause, applause!

melflores Reply:

Bravo!

10.18.11#14

Comment by Dufmanno.

Honestly I agree with Ry. After having to wallop a child going into shock with the epi pen right in his tiny thigh, I started taking allergies a lot more seriously.

Ry Sal Reply:

scary, scary stuff. Will carries an epi everywhere he goes.

Wicked Shawn Reply:

This is what is amazing to me. How about everyone get over whether it is inconvenient or you feel someone was inconsiderate. Child’s. Life. End of story. That should be all that matters. If it means you spend 10 minutes talking to your child, that is what some of us call parenting. If it means you spend 10 minutes extra in the grocery, get over it. Child’ s. Life.

10.18.11#15

Comment by Minivan Mama.

My daughter has life threatening allergies to peanuts and eggs. Once diagnosed, I was shocked to see how upset these food allergies make other parents when REASONABLE accommodations are being made. It is incredibly disheartening and why awareness is so critical. Check out http://www.foodallergy.org if you get a chance. Wonderful information for everyone.

10.18.11#16

Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

I think that reaching out goes a long way. Schools and parents of children with allergies really could make the whole ‘nut free’ transition so much more easy by sending a list of snack/food items/brand names and webpages that state these things home to parents before school. It’s really easy to tell people NOT to do things. By making a little effort at making that transition easier by helping educate on what people CAN bring that’s simple and easy it shows that they care about those they are influencing.

I have no issues with peanut-free schools. I don’t think anyone should, honestly.

N and Em's mom Reply:

I agree. Telling parents “No peanuts” without resources is making me personally responsible for a child’s life. Several years ago, my husband developed an allergy and would react randomly with swelling and hives. Then his airway started closing up. 3 trips to the ER with strider noises (whistling sound someone makes when their airway closes up), constantly making sure that we had epi pens, and not knowing what was causing it was incredibly stressful. I cut out all artificial ingredients and nut products because I knew that if it was a food allergy there was a good possibility that he would die, and I was willing to do anything to save him. I spent hours and hours at the grocery store reading labels. The good news- it was a drug that he had been taking for years. The silver lining was better nutrition for all of us. But it was not effortless. As time went on, I knew which brands to buy. Give me a list of things that I can buy or brands to stay away from because so many products have peanut oil or are processed in plants with peanuts. This is far more complicated than not packing a peanut butter sandwich. In this case, I need you to help me, so I can help you.

As a sidebar, my husband is a paramedic, so at least he was safe at work. Ambulances carry injectable Benadryl and Epi pens and can intubate. Call 911 if there is an emergency. Sometimes, 1 epi pen admin is not enough, but it can buy time until paramedics arrive to administer more drugs and get you safely to the hospital.

N and Em's mom Reply:

On a more positive note, Will’s Kitchen is an awesome website with lots of great recipes and info.

subWOW Reply:

+ 1!

10.18.11#17

Comment by Megan.

The real irony is that if parents who are getting their noses out of joint discovered that their children sneezed when exposed to dust, they’d have the entire school hermetically sealed.

Honestly, we have to shift priorities: Is that peanut butter sandwich so important that it trumps a person’s life?

And, since it hasn’t been pointed out, what if the one of the “regular” kids happens to high five one of the kids in “peanut-free” class with a smidge of peanut butter on his/her hand and then the allergic kid rubs his/her eye or something? Just sayin.

LZ Reply:

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen numerous people roll their eyes at others with allergies, but then, when their kid gets them, look out!

melflores Reply:

I agree 100% And how many times have you seen a kid SNEEZE all over another kid…if that kid had just eaten peanut butter and then sneezed in the vecinity of my daughter she would need her epipen. Like many others have already said – a person’s LIFE trumps the convenience of a peanut butter sandwich. We use Sunbutter at our house (made with sun flower seeds)…it’s delicious and safe and an EASY switch.

10.18.11#18

Comment by Cate8.

another comment from old me….
hate hate hate the idea tossed around above about
‘separate schools’
let’s flash back to the 60’s (when I was in Kindergarten)
‘separate but equal’.

UGH

10.18.11#19

Comment by MW.

Talk about being allergic to the attitude? I really don’t have any problem with my child’s school being nut free (we are happy to still have the freedom of feeding him healthy foods with nuts at home), but after reading this, I can understand why *the other parents* are irritated… when you react this way to someone suggesting a compromise. I’m pretty sure no one appreciates being referred to as a “Nazi” because they don’t think their child should be forced to conform to someone else’s dietary restrictions. Hmm… who’s the Nazi again?
Mom of Two was suggesting a safe classroom for your kids… not an asylum. If you take yourselves as seriously as it appears, shouldn’t your primary focus be to protect your children? If my child had a serious health issue like that I would welcome the opportunity to keep him safe without all of the confrontation… but that’s just me. My son has Autism, and is in a class for children on the spectrum, because that is what’s best for him at age 4 & I don’t see anything wrong with it because he is getting what he needs. Attacking people isn’t a good way to educate others. You attract more flies with honey… unless, of course, you’re allergic to that too.

As for Pitchfork’s question, just talk to the parents openly and honestly. Don’t be rude but explain the situation. I’m sure that no one wants your child to be in danger. At least I wouldn’t. When my child has eggs at breakfast, we make sure he is still in his pj’s while eating, so there isn’t any egg on his school clothes. We also wash his face & hands & make sure he brushes well, because believe it or not, we do actually care. Taking an approach (joking or not) like Ryan and some of the other commenters may set you back further rather than help you ban together with other parents to help your child.

kokopuff Reply:

Very well said. Thank you. Yes, we all know peanut allergies are dangerous, but I’ve seen ADULTS go into anaphylactic (sp) shock because they wandered into a fudge shop that clearly had a “nuts are used here” sign on the door. So assuming all parents and children are going to be as careful as you and your child is a big, risky assumption.

10.18.11#20

Comment by Rosstwinmom.

My best friend’s son has severe food allergies. It is rough on him! Poor little guy.

As to the separate table at lunch, that is not always cool. It makes them feel isolated and punished. They just want to eat with their friends. I love the idea that anyone can sit at that table as long as they have no nuts. That way, the kids can ask their friends to sit by them and the moms can pack lunch accordingly.

I have also seen this get to the point where parents think the allergies really can’t be all that bad and that the parents of the kids with allergies are just being over-protective. Um, no. That is not a path you would willingly walk for no reason. It affects these kids every day and only hurts more as they get older and realize they are not able to do normal, fun things.

10.18.11#21

Comment by Amy.

Hey guys,
How about this. Let’s just make all of the schools Kosher, Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Nut Free! That way everyone will be happy!

Susan Reply:

You KNOW that won’t make everyone happy! šŸ˜‰

10.18.11#22

Comment by nearlyfar.

This issue perplexes me (to be honest, I know little about food allergies) because I have a 4 year old who will eat nothing but a pb&j for lunch. No joke, extreamly picky eating runs in my husbands family. My other child no big deal, but I am stressing now. What will I do next year when he goes to school? You all have me freaked out.

Poker Chick Reply:

Nearly far and everyone else who swears peanut butter is the be all end all – we know many kids like that who use sun butter or soy nut butter instead and their kids like it just as much, many can’t tell the difference. There are so many substitutes it really is a non-issue at this point.

10.18.11#23

Comment by pattypunker.

Schools and classrooms are a perfect place for setting a good example of being sensitive to others. Having a policy restricting nuts is no different than having a policy not tolerating bullying or physical/verbal abuse. Down with insensitivity, people!

subWOW Reply:

Where is the LIKE button?!

Poker Chick Reply:

AMEN

10.18.11#24

Comment by MommyTime.

I just want to talk about the “outing” issue. My son has a diabetic friend in his second-grade class. The boy’s mother came to school last year to talk to all the kids about what that meant, explain what the signs were that Johnny was having a problem, and how to help him get to his juice boxes or snacks when needed. The goal was NOT to make the other kids afraid or responsibly for Johnny’s life but rather to educate them so that there was no mystery, less fear, and *in case* something happened, they wouldn’t panic. The teacher, of course, would have been far more likely to intervene than would the students, but this way the whole class feels empowered rather than inconvenienced. (What if, for example, Johnny had a serious low-blood-sugar attack while on the opposite end of the playground?) It seems to me that talking about peanut allergies clearly would be precisely the same thing. Our school has a nut-free section in the cafeteria, and then class-specific allergy protocols depending on the particular needs of students in those rooms. BUT, all the kids have had this clearly explained, the teachers are on-board, and we have clear suggestions of acceptable snacks, etc. I think the letter writer should look at being “outed” as an OPPORTUNITY to help everyone understand that peanut allergies (unlike many others) can be airborne, and to offer some help about what brands/ foods are acceptable, rather than feeling like “outing” necessitates being attacked.

10.18.11#25

Comment by subWOW.

Being a vindictive person, I immediately latched onto the fact that the “director” of the school outed the mother/son. Absolutely unprofessional. My son’s school has a “no peanut policy” as well. In addition to that, there is a “peanut free zone” table at the cafeteria that is constantly wiped down because at least one of the kids has allergy so severe that if s/he touches traces of peanuts s/he would go into shock. I (want to) believe that after realizing this fact, other parents would stop feeling frustrated. Or they should do what I do: Goldfish crackers every single damn day.

10.18.11#26

Comment by subWOW.

Although I am fine with going through all these troubles of changing my life for kids with peanut allergies, I am absolutely abhorred that some schools banned balloons because of the kids that have life-threatening latex allergies. Think of all the fun that the OTHER NORMAL kids are deprived of because of these few kids! The horror!

10.18.11#27

Comment by Lagunatic.

Peanuts are stupid.

I mean, like, REALLY stupid seeing as they’re brainless and all.

I bet you knew I wasn’t being serious, right? Just like how Ryan wasn’t being serious about every parent except those who’s kids have allergies feed their kids nothing but snickers…

@subWOW, is THAT why there are no balloons in schools anymore? And here I was thinking it was because of all the hoopla regarding sex ed! Silly me. šŸ˜‰

10.18.11#28

Comment by Brilliant Sulk.

Wow – who knew something as simple as a peanut butter sandwich could get everyone’s panties in a bunch! I think Ryan wrote quite an eloquent and funny response…

At my children’s school they prefer we don’t pack peanut butter in lunches. If we must (which I don’t) the kids can sit at a separate table. I usually pack something else – my kids love a good sauerkraut, rutabaga and duck confit sandwich.

10.19.11#29

Comment by NjMellie.

I am a certified school nurse, and what I have seen in the various school districts around here is a few different approaches: the peanut-free table in the cafeteria that gets wiped down frequently, a peanut free classroom, students eating their lunch in the NO (the child with the allergy usually brings a friend to eat with). All approaches try to balance the allergy issue with respect for all kids.

To ban nuts (or more importantly, peanut butter) from a school is very difficult. Kids are picky. My daughter had a friend who only brought pb sandwiches for lunch, her entire 12 years in school. She was the pickiest kid I’ve ever seen! But there needs to be compromise. To make a nut-free school is probably unnecessary, unless you also don’t take your child to a grocery store (not nut-free) or shopping at Target (not nut-free) or really out anywhere in public. And if that’s the case, you probably shouldn’t be sending your child to school, unfortunately.

I know I’m going to get beaten up for this position, but I’ve seen compromise in action, and it works AND it protects the children with the allergy very well.

NjMellie Reply:

NO=Nurse’s Office.

Poker Chick Reply:

I bet the kids who had to eat in the NO because it wasn’t safe to sit elsewhere when the other kids could have just as easily substituted soy butter as well didn’t think it was a very fair compromise.

NjMellie Reply:

This is often the least common solution that I’ve seen, but I have seen it. I personally have never even been able to get my kids to eat natural peanut butter, much less soy butter. It’s not as easy a solution as you say it is.

It’s funny, but the kids I saw involved in eating in the NO seemed to really like it. The buddies changed daily, because everyone wanted to do it. The nurse made it a very fun atmosphere, played music. They did everything they could to make it an enjoyable experience.

melflores Reply:

It’s ridiculous to say that going to the grocery store is as dangerous as sending my daughter to school (she has a life-threatening peanut allergy). If we’re in the store I AM RIGHT BESIDE HER WITH HER EPIPEN…and Benadry, and Claritin,…and my cell phone to call 911. If she was at school on the playground with 50 billion other kids and one kid pulled out a cookie from his/her pocket or a granola bar and started sharing it and she ate some (she’s 5 – it could happen) I would NOT be right by her recognizing the signs and pulling out the epipen and calling 911….she’d be surrounded by a bunch of kids that don’t know that they should get help and by the time an adult noticed what was happening it could be too late. Yes I’m paranoid and think of every possible horrible scenario, but this is my child! It’s easy to say “oh if my child had life-threatening allergies I wouldn’t be so demanding…” but it’s not true. You would do everything to not only protect your child but also make sure that they were not singled out and excluded because of their allergy. Eating in the NO or at a peanut-free table is not enough! All the kids touch the same doorknobs and books and light switches and give each other high fives and sneeze all over the place! We’re talking about a child’s life and NOTHING should be more important than that. Nothing. Not even a PB&J sandwich.

NjMellie Reply:

Do you have a school nurse? Because if you do, you should be assured that your child will be cared for very competently and quickly by the nurse. If your school doesn’t have a nurse, you should start lobbying for one. You have a perfect reason to want a medical professional in your school at all times: the safety of your child, and rightfully so.

In terms of a peanut-free table, I urge you to go to the American Academy of Pediatrics page, and search for nut allergies. The article I referenced below will come up, and it’s a very clear and informative article about the best way to manage nut allergies in school.

I personally would never want to leave my child’s allergy in the hands of others, such as grandparents who might accidentially pack a pb sandwich. I’d rather know that the school has procedures in place to keep any reactions to a minimum.

By the way, people at your school, whether you have a school nurse or not, should be prepared with Bendryl and epi pen should a reaction occur. My point with shopping is, you have no idea if a child had pb on their hands before you child touches something on the shelves. Yes, you’re there with the benedryl, but so can the school professional. And taking such precautions as a nut-free table (where anyone can sit..not just children with the allergies) helps tremendously, as does hand washing before leaving the careteria. If kids are educated as to why they can’t share food, why they must wash their hands before leaving the cafeteria, they are very willing to help out.

10.19.11#30

Comment by anna.

Ryan, My 4 y/o was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. I would never expect her entire preschool to be gluten free just for her. I also am a single mother and cannot afford to buy snacks for all 30 children in her class every time they want to have treats or parties. That’s great if you can afford it but it is not fair to expect parents to have a lot of extra cash, all because their children have celiac disease or a peanut allergy!

My child’s teachers let me know when they are having a party so I can send gluten free treats for my daughter and when they have a pizza party I can make her one or send her with some other festive lunch food of her choosing. It’s not that hard but I’m sure having a severe peanut allergy is much scarier and I feel for the kids and their parents. They do not have a no-peanut policy at her school and honestly, I’m glad because peanut butter is a healthy, inexpensive option for her lunches and we get it free from the WIC program so it is a staple at out house. However, if they did have this policy we would follow it and not complain.

We run into gluten everywhere. Some churches and other houses of worship insist on doughnuts every week and she gets sad that she can’t have them. They also frequently give animal crackers, goldfish, etc. as snacks during Sunday School. It’s not easy at times but we are managing. I don’t expect everyone to cater to us but when we are invited to a party or dinner at someone’s house and they offer something gluten free for my daughter I must say that I am incredibly grateful for their consideration. We certainly don’t want to inconvenience anyone but we don’t want her to feel bad because she is different.

melflores Reply:

Would eating gluten kill her? I have friends with celiac disease and I know how painful and uncomfortable it can be. But my daughter would DIE if she ate anything with peanuts in it. Die. It’s sad to have to tell our kids that they can’t have the things they want – it happens all the time with my daughter too. Of course you don’t want to make everyone accomodate for your daughter or inconvenience people. But if one tiny drop of gluten could KILL her you’d see things differently.

10.19.11#31

Comment by sisterfunkhaus.

I have a peanut allergy myself and being near or smelling peanuts even give me a problem. BUT, when someone at work is eating something that is obviously peanut based, I leave the lunch room and eat at my desk. Kids should have the same option–a table for kids with allergies along with places for their friends to come join them. As an educator and counselor, I know for a fact that many families who don’t qualify for free lunch, but who are poor, rely on PBJ as a cheap lunch staple for their kids b/c it really is their cheapest and only affordable option. There are literally kids who have to do without lunch if they don’t have PBJ or just PB sandwiches. Banning them all together seems a bit strong when kids can sit across the room and the PB eating kids can be made to wash their hand and rinse their mouths well.

I am that parent who makes sure my child doesn’t take anything peanut based to class/school EVER since two kids in her class are allergic (the school does not/refuses to have a no peanut policy), but I seriously feel for parents who can barely afford to send their kids a PB&J who are told that PB is out. Kids must have food.

As a peanut allergic person, I understand the issue, but as an educator, I can also see the other side. There has to be a compromise. Parents may not like their kids being separated or in class with other allergic kids b/x it may or may not cause a “complex”, but it doesn’t have to be their way or the highway. The schools are just trying to make it so that everyone can function at as close to a normal and safe level as possible. All of these angry parents who don’t want to compromise sicken me (on both sides.)

sisterfunkhaus Reply:

Geez, I should have proof read that-lol.

NjMellie Reply:

Not only is pb a cheap option for food, it’s also a very nutritional option. There was a mom above who said she sent her child in with butter sandwiches all year, in order to comply with the school’s no-nuts policy. I hope she was kidding, because there is zero nutrition in that. There are absolutely ways to compromise so that all student’s needs are respected.

10.20.11#32

Comment by Marinka, TMH.

Thank you, everyone for the discussion.

This is obviously a hot-button issue, and I think it’s important that we discuss ways that we can protect children with allergies.

I hope that means that we can take in all suggestions without resorting to name calling. Especially “Nazi”. Come on.

We can do better. We have to. It’s about our children.

VG Reply:

Well said šŸ™‚

10.20.11#33

Comment by Ry Sal (Ryan).

Just one point that really needs to be emphasized — in many cases, the peanut allergy is a life or death situation.

Since 1997 the number of children born with the peanut allergy has doubled, and that number is growing. Prevention, in it’s strictest form, without compromise is the only way to ensure our schools are safe.

That being said, I thank everyone who voiced their opinions here– it is very obvious, although we may disagree on some points, how much we all care about our children.

Dufmanno Reply:

So very true Ry. No matter what side of the fence you come down on personally the number one issue is the life of a child. I will gladly send my non allergic kids to school with a lunch that will allow them to sit with their peanut allergy friends:)

10.21.11#34

Comment by NjMellie.

And I disagree with the statement that prevention, in it’s strictist form without compromise, is the only way to ensure that our schools are safe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a very good article on managing nut allergies in schools. The one thing that they do state is that there should be no blanket bans on any foods in school, because the items that some children are allergic to are also considered protein-staples of another child’s diet.

They offer many options: a food-safe table that all can eat at, as long as a student’s lunch is nut-free (or allergen-free), hand-washing after lunch, and a no-food-sharing policy, among others.

I understand that a food allergy is potentially life-threatening, but if you have a emergency health care plan in place, and take reasonable and practical precautions, then compromise in the school system is a very possible solution.

10.22.11#35

Comment by Lisa.

Here is what I don’t understand: if a child’s life is truly in danger, how do you leave that in someone else’s hands? How do you trust that every child, every single day does not bring something banned? How do you trust that grandma isn’t visiting and packs lunch that day and has no idea about the ban? Or that someone subs out almond butter for peanut butter not knowing it isn’t okay? I can’t imagine trusting others like that, if it were a matter of life and death.

In preschools, you have a choice. I think I would choose a school that already has policies that fit our family than ask the school to change. This reminds me of the parent with a 3yo who kept having accidents and was eventually asked to leave. The parents tried to fight the policy instead of finding a preschool that actually matched their needs. My kid’s school doesn’t have such a policy, for instance.

10.31.11#36

Comment by GM.

I like what NJMellie had to say. My daughter is one of the children who does rely on nuts as a protein staple. Yes, even the doctor agrees that daily PB&J is what I should be giving her if it gets her to eat more protein. She just plain won’t eat meat, tofu, fish, and most eggs. I’ve tried every trick in the book, multiple times. Nothing has worked.

My heart goes out to those children who do have allergies. What about a section just for children WITH peanut butter in their food? I wouldn’t feel upset if my daughter was separated. It’s just during meals.

11.09.11#37

Comment by Resume | Ryan Salinetti Creative.

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