Well, Internet. I think this is the best thing I've read in, oh, ever. Karen Alpert, the witty writer behind the Baby Sideburns blog, has penned this spectacular letter that I would like to just print and distribute or maybe copy/paste (with credit, of course) everywhere. Next time some fabulously self-centred parent rants and whines about how her poor kid can't bring peanut butter to school because ONE measly kid could DIE from it, I'll point her to this.
The text reads as follows:
Dear parents who don't think it's fair to ban nuts from school
By Karen Alpert, Wednesday at 10:03 pm
Dear Parents at __________ School who don’t think it’s fair for the school to ban nut products,
So I just heard the story about your school and even though my kids don’t go there, I still couldn’t help but have an opinion. Now if you don’t want to hear what I think, feel free to stop reading now. Seriously, stop reading ‘cause you might not agree with what I say.
Okay, you’re still with me. Here we go.
So lemme get this straight. There’s this kid who’s deathly allergic to nuts. Like it’s so bad that if this kid sat down at a table where someone was eating nuts, he would die. As in dead. Gone. Forever. And the only way this kid can go to school is if the school bans EVERYONE from bringing nut products into the school.
And lemme make sure I understand where you’re coming from. So you think it’s YOUR kid’s right to bring her favorite snack to school. You think if someone tells her she can’t bring a PB&J to lunch that her freedom is being squashed.
Am I understanding all of this so far? I just want to make sure I have this straight.
So are you ready for my opinion? Do you want to hear what I think?
Stop being such a goddamn shart-rag and grow the F up. I mean seriously? SERIOUSLY?!!! You think the right for your kid to eat a stupid brownie with chopped nuts is more important than a kid’s life? Your kid can still eat her crappy PB&J. She’s just gonna have to wait a few extra hours until she gets home from school.
I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient for you to have to think a little harder about what you pack in little Timmy’s lunchbox. Think how F’ing hard it is for Allergy Boy’s mom every damn day trying to figure out where he can and can’t go, and what he can and can’t eat. How awful it must be for her to send her kid off every day knowing she might not see him again if he accidentally touches the wrong table.
“But but but can’t this kid get homeschooled?” you ask. Ummm, first of all, are you offering to home-school him because who the hell said his mom can do that? Duh, maybe she works like most parents do.
“Well, why should my love muffin have to stop bringing banana nut muffins to school because some other kid has allergies?”
I’ll tell you why. It’s called compassion. It’s called putting yourself in another mother’s shoes. It’s called teaching your kid that maybe, just maybe, her desire to take peanut M&Ms to school isn’t quite as important as a boy’s life.
Anyways, that’s just my measly two cents. Take it or leave it. I’m off to the kitchen where I’m going to eat a scoop of peanut butter because it’s not gonna hurt anyone because I’m at home.
A mom who gives a crap about ALL kids, not just my own
P.S. If you like this, please join my facebook page and buy my new book that's coming out this October. Thank you!!
I know, we've talked this topic to death around here, haven't we? And I know you're as sick of it as I am, and I'm a parent of an anaphylactic kid. We got the letter, too. The one that says we can't send any dairy, eggs, or nuts to school in lunches. And as I read it, I looked through my cupboards and fridge at the cheese and cracker snacks, the yogurt, the egg salad ready for tomorrow's sandwich, the cheese strings and granola bars and wondered what the heck I was supposed to pack instead. Frustrations run hot, and we all know how picky kids are at the best of times. It's incredibly frustrating when a child comes home with a full lunch bag because they just didn't feel like eating what was packed, so when there are restrictions on what they will eat, it's even worse. I know. We all know. Kids need to eat, and there's the constant pull between one child's allergies and the rest of the kids' nutritional needs.
I hear all sides of the argument, and as one of the people who is causing you this great annoyance, I apologize for my kid's problem.
Schools restrict foods, but when so many of us are confused about allergies, how can kids really be safe? What happens when a parent forgets almonds are nuts? Or when they don't realize hummus contains sesame? Or when they accidentally send mayo to the classroom of the egg-allergic kid? It's so hard, and I promise you that even we allergy parents are lost half the time, too. Is "may contain" ok? Is it ok if my kid sits at that other table? Should my kid sit in a different room? Schools are trying to become educated on how best to protect students, but how far can they really be expected to go?
One mom, Lynne Glover, resorted to pulling her six-year-old daughter from school because of anaphylactic allergies. Her argument is that if schools accommodate nut allergies, they owe it to children with other life-threatening allergies to protect them, too. In her daughter's case, it would mean a full ban of dairy and egg products because of her daughter's severe contact allergies and the school just hasn't been able to do that with confidence. Glover's daughter Elodie suffered anaphylaxis seven times already — what if the next reaction was fatal?
There's the argument that it's every kid for themselves out there, and that it's just "too bad" that some suffer allergies.
There's the idea that schools should start lunch programs with safe foods.
Some people think a list of specific, acceptable lunches would be good.
Some think kids with allergies have no place in the public school system.
There are suggestions for allergic-kid specific lunch rooms.
I don't know what the answer is, but I know that sending an anaphylactic kid to school every day is a scary experience. I don't mind rethinking our lunches, but it's becoming harder and harder to pack them safely, that's for sure.
Hamilton, Ontario could become the first city to require restaurants to have auto-injectors at the ready for emergency purposes. For severe allergy sufferers, anaphylaxis poses a life-threatening risk that can often be prevented with the use of epineprhine auto-injectors like EpiPens. There's no guarantee that an EpiPen will stop a reaction, but it's the first line of defense when contact with an allergen has happened, much like automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for heart attack victims.
Maia Santarelli-Gallo, a twelve-year-old Hamilton girl, died this past spring after a sudden reaction to an ice cream cone. Previously, her allergy had caused only a runny nose, but on this occasion, anaphylaxis occurred and she was without an EpiPen. By the time her sister found someone carrying one, and administered it, it was too late to save Maria's life. In response to this tragedy, Hamilton councillor Lloyd Ferguson has drafted a ground-breaking motion to have auto-injectors at every place that sells food in the city.
This would substantially change the environment for everyone who has food allergies, no matter the severity. Because there is absolutely no way to predict how severe a future reaction may be, an auto-injector is the best insurance we can carry. Now that defibrillators are commonplace in public spaces, it's a logical step to include epinephrine injectors as well, considering the fact that approximately 2.5 million Canadians have at least one food allergy.
Read more about the initiative in this CTV news piece.