We’ve all heard parents complain about what a pain it is when they get a notice sent home from school alerting them there’s someone in the class who has a food allergy. It’s another thing to worry about, it’s something else you have to remember and monitor. It’s a huge pain that you simply can’t slap together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and send them on their very way.
Think twice before you open your mouth. The judgment and the push for segregation of allergic kids needs to stop now. Like, right now.
The debates over this serious issue are fucking ridiculous and show a complete lack empathy and understanding. If your child doesn’t suffer from anaphylactic allergies, you have no grasp on how serious the risks are, so listen to those who know what they’re talking about: the parents of children with severe food allergies. Trust they know what they are talking about because they’ve spent tons of time researching and talking with doctors, and lost hours of sleep and worried themselves sick about this.
Don’t be another thing for them to worry about.
What many don’t understand is that peanut butter sandwich your child loves can kill another child. What feels like a chore is nothing compared to what the parents of a child with food allergies go through every day. My kids don’t have serious food allergies, but you won’t catch me complaining about not packing peanut butter in their lunches because it’s a small — minuscule, really — price to pay to ensure the safety of a child and the peace of mind for their parent.
I know, some kids are extremely picky. Some kids have sensory issues and other factors that make packing a lunch incredibly difficult. When you have to find alternatives for the one thing they will reliably eat, it can be hard, but not nearly as hard as having your kid rushed to the ER in anaphylactic shock. Or worse, dead. Nothing is as as bad as that. Guaranteed.
If you have an allergy-free child, monitoring your kids’ lunches, snacks, and what they bring into a class party is the least you can do. Don’t complain about it. Just follow the damn rules.
Because when a child has a severe food allergy, it goes beyond keeping them separated during snack and lunches and calling it a day. And no, they shouldn’t be left out of school parties, or have to sit all by themselves all the time. Kids do feel alienated when they can’t participate in a birthday party or go out to eat with their friends to a certain place because what’s in the food could take their life. It might sound like a small thing, but I can assure you it’s not — it’s their world. So, if your kid is celebrating at school, bring an allergy-friendly treat. The small gesture goes a long way.
You might reassure their parents you have checked all the ingredients in the baked good you are sending in, and they might tell you they still aren’t comfortable. Respect that. They probably still won’t let their child go near the treat or will send them in with something else so they can enjoy the party too. It’s still too risky — there could be dangerous ingredients that came into contact with the cookies or cake you made that aren’t safe for their child.
They will be thinking, Did someone touch something while baking them? Did you use a rolling pin to roll out the cookies that contained something dangerous because it wasn’t cleaned properly?
That might feel offensive, but don’t take it personally. Parents who have kids with food allergies become experts, and their goal isn’t to make anyone feel bad or inconvenience them. It’s to make sure their child doesn’t need to break out their EpiPen during school, it’s to keep them safe, and it trumps hurting your feelings.
Nuts can be in many things, and it’s not up to a small child to figure it all out during the chaos of their school day. Yes, parents who have kids with allergies do all they can to educate them, but they are still kids. They get overwhelmed. They forget. The responsibility shouldn’t be left solely up to them or their parents. It takes a village, remember? Have some compassion.
It’s maddening this is even a debate and grown-ass people think we are asking them to treat kids with food allergies like special snowflakes when all they are asking is for you to take a second look at certain ingredients to help keep their child alive. Alive. We are not dealing with food intolerance here. This is not a gray area; it’s about keeping kids safe.
So, if you know there is a child in school who has these allergies, be respectful. Shut your mouth — don’t complain or make “suggestions.” You have not been given this information so you can stand on your soapbox about God knows what. You are being asked to help a child who would like to attend school. And not allowing your child to bring some of their favorite foods to school, to keep their classmates healthy and safe, is much more important than your child’s love for that particular food. They can have it at home. They can have it in the car as soon as you pick them up. They will survive.
And you shouldn’t be offended by this, you should just get over it.