From time to time, Rochester MN Moms Blog will publish posts anonymously to protect the author from sensitive information shared with our readers. This month a reader submitted a personal plea to raise awareness, as May is Food Allergy Awareness Month.
Is your child’s peanut butter sandwich, snickers bar or trail mix more important than my child’s life?
Let me start off by saying I love nuts….before I had kids who were severely allergic, almost every morning I had a toasted English muffin with oozing, creamy peanut butter, sometimes I would drizzle honey and add toasted almonds or pecans…YUM! Or, a late night indulgence of an ice cream sundae with a little whip cream topped with crushed nuts….double YUM!
Now, we keep a nut free house; because my old breakfast or late night snack could put my kids in their teeny, tiny graves!
My son was diagnosed with a nut allergy when he was 1. He was kissed on the neck — hives and itchy skin immediately welted up his skin. He was diagnosed with anaphylaxis (severe and potentially life threatening reaction) to all nuts (peanuts and tree nuts) after an incident with an ice cream sundae. I held his hand in the ambulance after stabbing his leg with epinephrine. Holding a vomit filled oxygen mask secure on his face, praying that he won’t die while he turned 50 shades of blue. I have physically heard my child’s airway closing, his breath squeaking like a mouse. I have seen my son stare death in the eye – his swollen and puffy eyes.
Now my plea……
Please, save your peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, snickers bars, granola bars and other nut products for after school – there are a million other options that you can serve your kids for school lunch, snack or birthday treat!
Leave your nut snacks at home, you don’t need to bring a birthday treat to school – bring bubbles, balloons, stickers, match box cars – kids go crazy over these items. I certainly don’t remember any of the cupcakes or cookies I had when I was in school, do you? But, one kid, like mine, will remember holding back tears until he gets in his car, after his mom asks him about how his day was and he says “all the other kids got a cookie and I had to eat strawberries”.
Food allergy is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition affecting up to 15 million Americans. One in every 13 children has a food allergy—that’s about 2 in every U.S. classroom. And every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. (from FARE: https://www.foodallergy.org/)
Yes, I know that someday he will need to be in the real world, and as a parent we are teaching him to navigate his food allergies. He is still only 5, and 5 year olds in the real world are messy … I would love for them to eat their sandwiches and snacks without spreading it all over their face and floor – we literally have to vacuum our floor after dinner at our house!! They spread their dirty little hands all over the place. Even if he has to sit at his nut free table; the other little friend that had nuts for lunch just touched the door handle to the classroom, water fountain button, or crayon. What would happen if my child came behind and touched that surface and rubbed his eye or put his finger in his nose (yes, sometimes my 4 year old picks his nose, lol).
He will enter that real world soon enough – elementary school should not be that place!
I know this will cause controversy, I hear comments like:
“My kid is so picky; the only thing he’ll eat is peanut butter. Ugh. This is so lame- ONE kid making life difficult for the rest of us.”
“God, this is so unreasonable. The whole class has to change for one or two kids? Why can’t those kids just stay away from nuts?”
“Whoever thinks this is a realistic solution to a much bigger problem is living in a fantasy. This won’t solve anything or keep these kids safe. They need to learn to navigate the real world, which has nuts in it; you can’t shelter these kids forever.”
I want you to think about the precious little heart beating in your child’s chest. What you wouldn’t do to keep that heart beating, yes?
Now, I offer a solution……
Is it possible for you to eat a bologna, sunbutter, jelly, tomato, ham, cheese or turkey (you get the idea), fill in the blank, ______ sandwich; Monday through Friday (5 days a week)? Feast on nuts at home. I’m a mama bear, I will advocate for my child, even if it is about a tiny nut that is harmless to most.
I do realize that I am imposing on you to change your lunch-making routine, to ensure that my son has the best chance at surviving the day when I send him off to school. I need to fight to make sure I pick him up from the bus stop instead of picking him up at the hospital or <shudder> something worse!
Please help and keep my child safe at school, I know I would help keep yours safe! I know my son would help keep your child safe, he is such a sweet boy!
Thank you, Food Allergy-Mamma Bear
PS: Please keep your snacks off playgrounds or shared space. Like I said before, kids are messy! Save your snacks for the ride home in the car or if you need a snack at the park bring a wipe and clean up after your kid!!! That tiny crumb from their granola bar that you left on the jungle gym could kill my child.
(Credit and inspiration from Jill Pond and info from FARE).