Monday, July 14, 2008

Gearing up for back to school and the nut free battle

Yes, I realize that it's only July, but given that Ava is starting a summer camp program next month (mainly to get both she and I into the routine of getting somewhere by 8 am two mornings a week!), I can't help but start to think about getting ready for school in September. I've got a to do list, including buying a bento-style lunch box (I'm tired of throwing away money on zipper top bags...not to mention wasting plastic!), getting her uniform pieces purchased (knee socks, saddle shoes, plaid skirt, matching headband...), and for summer camp - the biggie: contacting the facility and letting them know about her peanut and tree nut allergies. Ava will attend a program through Portland Parks and Recreation, and they were great about letting her have her EpiPen, and also making the program nut free (since she's not the only kid in her session with such allergies).

There have been quite a few articles on the internet in the past few months about the backlash from parents of kids without food allergies to the increasing popularity of nut free tables and nut free schools. It completely floors me that there are (many) parents out there who feel that it is their child's right to have a PB&J sandwich for lunch every day, and that kids with allergies are evil for depriving them of such rights. Most of these articles actually suggest that kids with food allergies be homeschooled, or worse, that parents ignore the nut free rules and encourage their children to spread peanut traces everywhere! My guess is that like most hateful reactions, these sprout from ignorance.

The word "allergy" when combined with "peanuts" makes the situation seem so harmless. Perhaps these parents think that if a child with a severe peanut allergy comes into contact with peanuts, that child will simply break out into a rash that can be cured with Benedryl. Most children that I know with a severe allergy will break out into a rash by being in the same room with peanuts, and will have a severe rash, and will experience anaphylaxis if peanuts get in or near their mouths. Luckily, there are some great articles out there from parents of allergy free kids in support of nut free tables and schools:

Fighting For Your Right to PB&J

Banned From Flying: My Son's Favorite Lunch

My wonderful obstetrician told me something when I was about 36 weeks preagnant with Ava and she put me on bedrest for mild pre-ecplampsia...she said that while we are pregnant, we worry that everything will be alright with our babies. When they are born, we worry that they will hit all of the developmental milestones on time. When they go to school, we worry that they will be safe and secure without us. We don't stop worrying until we are dead. I wonder if she knew that Ava's allergies would give me so much to worry about.

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