I live in a very young community, such that my daughter is in one of 14 kindergarten classes at her school. There are lots of little kids and, sadly, lots of peanut allergies. A note was sent home with us when we met my daughter's teacher last week to advice that some children in the school have allergies so severe they can die if they come into even the slightest contact with peanuts.
The risk is real, and the resulting rules are strict; not only are no products with nuts allowed (which I expected) but no nut butter alternatives are allowed either.
Apparently not enough parents labeled their nut alternative spreads in the past, and rather than police each child to ensure they don't have the real deal, no alternative spreads are allowed. The safety of the children comes before the need for me to provide one of the few foods I know my picky daughter will eat.
I find it very frustrating. I'm nervous about finding enough food options that she will eat. Alternative nut butters are entirely safe. I'm completely annoyed that parents would risk trying to sneak peanut butter in their kids' lunches, ruining it for the rest of us.
But all of that aggravation and annoyance is my problem. I am perfectly OK with not doing anything that would risk the life of a child.
My child can eat anything without the risk of dying from anaphylactic shock. I am very lucky that I don't have to double check every single thing she eats to make sure it's not deadly for her. I am very lucky that I don't fear that every time I'm not with her, I have to trust that other children won't share a treat with her she might not be able to eat. I don't have to worry at every playground we go to that a kid might have had peanut butter for lunch, didn't wash their hands and used the same swing my daughter is now on moments before. I don't fear for my daughter's life, over something I have little actual control, every single day. I am very lucky.
If I think it's a lot of work to find an alternative to nut butter alternatives for my daughter's school lunches, I need only think about parents for whom the allergy is a reality to get some perspective. Parents who complain about the burden on them to accommodate children with deadly allergies would change their tune on a dime if it was their child who was afflicted. Because the second it's your own child's life at risk, there would be no question about the measures you'd take to keep them safe, and the efforts you would pray others would make as well.
Opponents to the strict rule are concerned about the slippery slope, and I admit I am too. Allergies are much more prevalent in our children's generation than I ever remember them being in our own. In fact, I don't recall one child growing up who had a peanut allergy. In my daughter's class in daycare however, five of the 16 children had peanut allergies. Times have certainly changed.
I don't know where the slippery slope ends. One friend can't send spreadable or 'smearable' (whatever that is) dairy in her child's lunch. Where will it end? When is the burden of accommodating other people's children too much?
Parents of children with severe allergies would put their children in a bubble if only they could. Those of us who don't need to and shouldn't make it harder. If I can keep a parent from worrying that their kid won't come home from school, and all it means for me is a bit more creativity, then really, annoying though it is, I'm OK with it. Because if it was my child, I'd hope people wouldn't put their own convenience ahead of my child's life.
Written by Leslie Kennedy for BabyPost.com
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