Recently, I was standing and chatting with a group of moms I didn’t know very well. One of them was complaining that her child got stuck in “one of the peanut-free classrooms” again that year. Looks of shared annoyance and eye rolling ensued among the group. I smiled politely and then let them know that my child was one of those annoying “allergy kids” that couldn’t eat nuts. There was the obligatory back peddling and sheepish looks. I was caught off guard and didn’t say all of the things I was thinking that day ... I’ve regretted it ever since. Here’s my way of fixing that ...
Dear Eye Rolling Parents,
I know it sucks that your kid has to go without his favourite food while he is in school with my kid. And I know that your idea for that cute snack that looks like a caterpillar is ruined cause of us. I’m sorry about that.
I know you’re probably thinking that your child has the right to eat what he wants even though other kids can’t eat the same things. And, you’re right, he does.
But here’s the thing ... my kid has the right to go to school and not be afraid that she’s going to accidentally ingest some of your kid’s breakfast and have to go through the terrifying experience of vomiting in front of everyone while her body covers itself with hives and her tongue swells and her throat starts to close up while she gasps for air.
I think maybe, just this once, my kid’s right to avoid that debacle trumps your kid’s right to bring peanut butter crackers to class ... don’t you think?
The scenario described above is called anaphylaxis and that’s what happened to my baby when she was 19 months old and accidently ingested some of my daughter’s peanut butter halloween treat. Every day while my child is at school with your child I am somewhere else and that scene goes through my head at least two or three times a day. Every. Day.
When I know it’s lunch time at school I keep my phone on and next to me for that entire hour just in case I get the call. Do you do that? Does your heart race from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every single weekday? Can you imagine what that’s like? Especially when you know that it takes paramedics 45 minutes to arrive, and you’re daughter has a total of four minutes to receive her epi pen, or she will die?
I am not asking for pity or attention from you, Eye Rolling Parent. I’m asking for your help. I need you, I need you to help me keep my baby safe. I’m totally dependent on you to follow the rules and teach your child to wash his hands and forgo foods with nuts and foods that may have been cross-contaminated with nuts while in class with my child. I need your help because I can’t be there with my daughter 24 hours a day. She’s not a baby anymore and I can’t keep her safe all by myself. She’s part of the world now and that’s the way it should be.
If I saw your kid run into the street in front of a car, I know I would do everything in my power to pull him or her away from danger. I know you would do the same for mine. That’s what parents do, don’t we? We are parents to all kids. Look at it this way, becoming savvy on what “peanut free” really means and learning to read food labels is your way of pulling my kid away from a moving car. The bottom line is that ingesting the smallest microscopic fragment of a peanut could kill my daughter. I know you wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to do anything you could to prevent that.
So, in closing, thank you, from the bottom of my heart to the parents who go above and beyond to keep my daughter safe, and for your understanding and compassion not only as a parent, but as a human being. All any Mom ever wants is for her child to fit in and not be criticized and ridiculed for something she has no humanly possible way of controlling.
Tracy A Rossnagel
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 15, 2014