It’s just too much. It really is. I’m sick and tired of the peanut butter issue that makes me have to leave that option out of school lunches. The letters coming home from schools asking for this and that not to be sent are becoming overwhelming. It’s starting to feel like an epidemic of allergies is happening and it’s driving me crazy. And there is always “that parent” that is pretty vocal about what their kids can’t come in contact with. It’s not just peanuts, but any kind of nut that can’t be packed for lunch (even almonds – which we keep getting told to eat because they are healthy and filling). And then on top of the nuts there’s the sesame allergy, because apparently there is a correlation between those allergic to peanuts also being allergic to sesame seeds. The fact that my favorite bread is topped with sesame seeds doesn’t matter, so I can’t pack that either.
The list goes on and on and on. Wheat allergies, fruit allergies, dairy allergies (Hello!?! Chocolate has dairy in it!! And again, my favourite also has raisins and nuts!) And you make one mistake and there is going to be “that parent” ready to bring it to the principal. Over peanut butter. I know people who swear that their kid will starve if they don’t get peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. How do you get your kid to eat if they can’t have peanut butter?
Oh, I forgot eggs. Eggs are another food that causes letters to be sent home asking that treats for the class party be egg free. Really? Eggs are the perfect food – they even come in their own containers. One of my best memories is of having soft-boiled eggs in my Nana’s kitchen. But nope, I can’t pack those in my kids lunch, either. No peanuts or tree nuts, no sesame, no eggs, no pitted fruits, no kiwi, no shellfish. It’s sick how long that list is. And I’m tired of it. Something has to give.
But it won’t. I can’t pack any of those things for my boys’ lunches. Not ever. Because I AM ‘that parent’. The one whose kids have deadly allergies. The one who worries every second of every day that my boys will accidentally eat something that will stop their breathing. The one who worries that another child’s peanut butter sandwich might actually kill my son. And it IS crazy that this has to be the way we live.
What’s even crazier is the sheer number of kids that have anaphylactic allergies to basic foods. Its nuts (no pun intended) that parents have to be on guard to ensure that their children make it through the day. Each and every day,in each and every space that they visit. Peanut butter is actually pretty simple to regulate. Just don’t use it. It’s that simple. There are alternatives that taste pretty darn good and look just like peanut butter. Your kids will likely never even notice – especially if they love PB&J. But PLEASE don’t sneak that peanut butter into the classroom – because it only takes one time for something tragic to happen.
I hate that I am “that parent”. I’m the one who keeps the peanuts, nuts and sesame out of the classroom. I promise you I don’t do it because it’s a fad. I do it because my boys are still young and keeping them safe is my first priority. They are learning to be oh-so-very-careful around food, and at 6 and 8 they are doing a pretty good job. But accidents happen and heading to the ER in an ambulance or waiting with panicked (but well hidden) breath after a possible contamination isn’t something I want to repeat.
They will go out into the great big world and they will – and do – use care that is age appropriate, but I’m still scared. And it only gets worse as they get older because they are exposed to so much more without me now. I’ve had friends whose adult children have nearly died because of accidental cross-contamination. It never, ever, gets easier.
So yeah, I’m bitter about it. We’ve had to change our lives because of allergies. I have constant fear over food and my kids. I always will. And it’s not fair.