Let me just start by saying I never wanted to be one of “those” parents. You know the kind: oversensitive, annoying, always reading the labels to make sure there’s no red dye #40 or gluten in what their kid eats(insert eye roll). Funny how life works, because I’ve been forced to be one of those parents.
When I was in college, I remember reading an article in a magazine about people with allergies. This was the first time I’d ever heard of a peanut allergy. The story told about a girl who was allergic; she kissed her boyfriend after he’d eaten a peanut butter sandwich and she ended up dying. I don’t usually remember things that I read, but for some reason, that story has always stuck with me. I remember being horrified at the idea of having an allergy that you couldn’t control. Fast forward 15 years…..
When Posey was a little over one year old, we had to take her to the ER because her whole body was covered in a red rash and her face was swollen. We took her to an allergist and found out she was allergic to peanuts. At first it didn’t really seem like a big deal. Just don’t let her eat peanuts, right? Even if she did, a rash isn’t that bad. Not too long after that, we rushed her to the doctor because she seemed like she was having problems breathing. When the doctor took her blood oxygen levels, I thought they were going to call CPS on us! Posey was in full blown respiratory distress, and we had no idea. She wasn’t getting enough air. We were admitted to the hospital where she stayed for 4 days trying to get her airways to open up. At first we thought maybe she had asthma, but since then, we’ve learned that it was most likely exposure to peanuts. The scary part is that she had no external signs; no rash, no swelling, and that her exposure to the peanuts had been airborne. She didn’t even eat one! Posey is almost 6 and since her first breakout, she’s had multiple trips to the ER and three 3-4 day hospital stays.
For the most part, we’ve felt like we had this thing under control. We always keep a epi pen with us, and we read EVERY label to make sure it doesn’t contain peanuts, but recently I was blindsided…..KINDERGARTEN. Posey is an incredibly social person, and we have been so excited for her to start school. Well, the other night, we were at the parents night for her new school, and as we were listening to the principal brief us about how things worked, we got the breath knocked out of us. It took me several seconds to decipher the words that had come out of his mouth, “For the cold lunch option, your child will have the choice of a Turkey and Cheese Sandwich or Peanut Butter and Jelly”. Yes, maybe I’m incredibly naive, but I thought serving peanuts in schools was so 1996. So many kids have peanut allergies nowadays(who knows what the heck is causing it, but it’s crazy all the kids with allergies), I assumed peanuts had become banned in most schools. You know what happens when you assume?? Peanuts have become such a poison to us, It’s hard to imagine how a school would serve them. Ok, I realize I’m being dramatic, but when you have a kid with a peanut allergy, you seriously view them like cyanide or ricin, and it’s hard to remember how you felt before you had a kid that was allergic.
Posey’s new teacher has been incredibly accommodating to us. She can only control what goes on in her classroom, so she is going to ask the parents to not send any peanut products with their kids. She even set up a meeting for us with the school nurse and the director of the elementary. The only problem is there is not even a consideration to make the campus peanut free. The meeting was more to talk about how to keep Posey away from the peanuts, and when she does have a reaction, who gives her the epi shot, who calls us and who rushes her to the ER. As a parent, this isn’t really the conversation I want to be having. I’ve read up a little on the subject and it does seem that “peanut bans” have become more and more popular around the country due to the increasing number of kids who are allergic, but that evidentially comes with a backlash. I didn’t realize how sacred peanut butter was to so many parents. I mean, I love peanut butter as much as the next person, but it wasn’t that big of a deal for us to to give up. I read many “peanut butter ban backlash” stories of parents throwing fits and insisting the kids with allergies not be allowed to attend school or be made to eat lunch by themselves in a cinderblock room. One argument was that we have to teach our kids to live in the real world and that taking peanuts out of schools is not the real world. I do agree, but she’s 5. I plan to let her cross the road by herself one day too, but until she’s old enough to understand the implications of crossing the road without looking, I will hold her hand. That’s what we do, we try to protect our children from harm.
I’m not mad, and this blog post is not me ranting or demanding anything. I just wanted to put my thoughts and concerns out there and get your opinions. I honestly don’t know what to do. School starts on Monday and the closer it gets, the more panicky I become. Sending Posey into a cafeteria that serves peanut butter sandwiches is like sending her into a mine field. Kindergarteners are messy and although the efforts from her teacher are valiant, I’m just worried it won’t be enough. On top of that, I really don’t want to cause a big stink. I don’t want all the parents to hate me, and I certainly don’t want to make it so that Po is ostracized in school. School is hard enough without having to be “that kid”.
What are your thoughts? I want to hear them? What the heck do you think I should do . Home Schooling is not an option, I think homeschooling is amazing but i’m just not cut out for it. What would you do?
Posey during her first hospital stay. 1 1/2 years old.
Posey during her last hospital stay this summer.
This was a reaction Posey had a couple of year ago. This was from touching a peanut M&M dispenser!