I have a feeling I am about to get slammed. If you see a bunch of parents wielding "Down with Peanut Butter" and "Food Allergies R Us" signs with torches and pitchforks heading in my direction, don't worry. I already know they are coming.
I kind of asked for it. I was silent no longer on a peanut allergy forum where about 90 percent of the parents are diehard food allergy "experts" and would wrap their children in bubble wrap before dropping them off at school. Michael, my eight-year-old, is allergic to peanut butter and peanut oil and I sometimes check out the peanut allergy forums to see what's new.
Short version: a parent stated she was going to pick up her child before the Satan-filled Valentine party at school because she was concerned that the nut-free room would be infiltrated with wrapped lollipops without ingredient labels. By the time I read the topic, nine parents had agreed wholeheartedly and vowed to start a revolution within all their schools across the U.S.
Now, I won't bore you with all the details, but here was my answer to this:
My PA son is in third grade. The nurse in our school is very strict about food/candy in the classroom - none! - unless it passes through her first for her approval. She usually calls me to make sure. I have often brought in cupcakes for my son's class as his is the only food allergy in the room.
HOWEVER... my point is this: I would NEVER take my son out of school before a party. I don't want him to feel ostracized. I want him to learn how to take care of himself -- which he does very well. He ALWAYS asks wherever he goes about the ingredients and calls me. I am VERY comfortable with my son being in situations where food is served without me (meaning at a friend's house, not alone somewhere). I firmly believe that is because he understands his allergy straight on.
He understands it because we live in a world with peanut butter in it - and he needs to learn how to live in this world with it. By taking him out of every situation where there may peanut butter is NOT teaching him how to handle himself without his mother or father there. Do we go into the candy store that is called the House of Nuts and Candy??? No. Do we go to the restaurant Texas Roadhouse where people throw peanut shells on the ground? No... but we go to birthday parties and other parties. And we always have.
Please don't get me wrong - I do not support putting children in harm's way. I am not saying leave out a PB&J sandwich and see if he touches it. I am saying that by not letting them learn how to live in this world where there is PB out there he will never learn how to live. He will always be scared, he will always be afraid and he will feel gypped because he never went to a friend's birthday party or school Valentine party.
I am not judging anyone out there regarding this - we all parent to the best of our ability and we all love our children. I just find that I seem to be a minority on these boards in regards to the best way to keep our kids safe. I feel the best way to keep MY kid safe is to teach him how to be safe and let him live it.
I always need to put disclaimers in otherwise people write in about how they are doing this because they love their children, blah blah blah. I KNOW they love their children. I KNOW they are nervous and just want to be 100 percent sure their child will be safe. But the point that I was making that will probably go over their heads is that I am not helping Michael deal with his allergy by taking him out of every single situation where he can learn what to do. If he is working one day at an office, do you think I can go in to the president and say, "Excuse me, please put away your macadamia nuts with peanut oil residue because my son is allergic"? Umm.... no. And that is why my eight-year-old is VERY knowledgeable about his allergy (just ask him!) and does not have a breakdown when he can't eat the cake at a birthday party (which is a hot topic on those boards, apparently). I guess I was fed up. I wanted to shake someone and say, "Seriously??!?"
This topic has me thinking about my attitude in general regarding these kind of serious situations. Michael's allergy, Brady's William's. Someone once called me laid back -- "Have you always been this laid back?" -- about Brady's condition, I think if I remember correctly. I worry. I do. Stray thoughts come through about his health, his weight, his delays. But they are what they are. I do worry, I am concerned with what the future holds and how we will live through it all. I have my own mental breakdowns on how Brady is progressing, the slow snail pace he is. But all I can do is help him get along further in life --have his therapies, go to the doctor's, have a positive attitude, do what needs to be done. Just like Michael, keep a watchful eye out there, guide him, but let him find his way. The means on dealing with both is not really that different from each other.
(I just checked the peanut allergy forum. One person already wrote back that she agrees with me - yeah! Finally, the minority speaks!)
(Sat. morning - it has begun! There are four people not just disagreeing with me, but SLAMMING me. I don't believe I slammed anyone. I have also received two private emails from people agreeing with me, but not wanting it to be known because they don't want to get singled out on the board. Disagreeing is FINE, I have no problem with that... one post disagreed with me but was not obnoxious about it.)