Allergic Reaction

Every once in a while, particularly during the back-to-school season, we see a flurry of blog posts and articles about allergies.

The posts typically concern one of two things, depending on the proclivities of the author:

1) Please don’t bring [this thing that my child is deathly allergic to] to school, I’m begging you! or;
2) Whatever, I don’t care if your kid dies.

My son has a pretty severe tree nut allergy. Guess which category this post falls into?

I get it. I’m lazy and American too. But I’m not a sociopath. Or a freedom-hating communist. And you don’t have to be Mother Theresa or George Washington to realize that your middling inconvenience and absurd ideas about freedom and equal rights don’t stand up next to a child’s life.

It's like living with my own little Immortan Joe!
It’s like living with my own little Immortan Joe!

Yes, this is a free country. And yes, you have the “right” to feed your kid peanut butter (and tree nuts and eggs and cat hair and dust, if your kid likes to eat cat hair and dust) all the time, just as these kids have the right to live and you have the right to be an asshole. Guess what? You’re exercising it! AMERICA!

Is there anything more infuriating than someone whining about their “freedom” and their “rights” and “equality” in an attempt to explain why they should be allowed to flagrantly endanger another person’s life? I’m not even talking about guns (this time), I’m talking about PEANUT BUTTER.

I’m well aware that the burden should be on the kids’ parents. Read this post, from the mother of a little girl with an incredibly severe peanut allergy, if you question whether the burden actually is. And sure, for some kids, an allergy can be so severe that mingling with the public, at school or wherever, is fraught with danger. In those cases, it’s up to the parent to decide if the allergy is so intense, so difficult to manage, that they simply can’t take the risk. But if the reason that it’s too difficult is because your kid really loves peanut butter and/or you don’t have time to make something else for him? You are the worst.

My son can have peanut butter (peanuts are a legume!) but he has a pretty bad tree nut allergy. I don’t know if he’ll die if he eats one, but I do know that his reaction won’t be good. A few months ago he accidentally ate one and the dreaded allergic reaction kicked in. He vomited and his throat closed up and Mom and Buried and I shit our pants and called the doctor. He was okay but we were warned that the next time would be worse.

As relieved as I was at that moment, a lifetime of annoying, paranoiac vigilance flashed before my eyes. Visions of a lifetime of stressful, hyper-aware, super-annoying, high-maintenance attentiveness to every treat at every birthday party he attends, and every ingredient in every meal we order when we’re out to dinner, and constant pre-sleepover phone calls and pre-school year teacher chats, bombarded my brain. My shoulders slumped at the mere thought of it. They still do.

And yet that “lifetime of annoying, paranoiac vigilance” is exactly what I want. I pray to Jeebus that my life is inconvenienced with that constant double-checking, because if it is, it means my son is still alive. I want to be that overbearing, high-maintenance parent, because so long as I have that role, it means he’s still around to need me in it. That he hasn’t yet been felled by an errant almond in some generous, innocent little schoolmate’s amicably offered candy bar.

Even if you think that the parents of kids with allergies screwed up by not exposing the child to potential allergens at an early age, so as to prevent or reduce their kid’s susceptibility, that ship has sailed. It is neither incumbent upon you to step in and try to “help” the kid prepare for the real world and gamble with his health by refusing to eliminate the allergens from your kid’s meals, nor is it okay to “teach them a lesson” or punish them for “screwing up” by refusing to eliminate the allergens from your kid’s meals. I mean, listen to yourself. Are you insane?

I get it. I am always looking for shortcuts, especially when it comes to parenting. It’s a lot of work, any and all hacks to reduce that work are welcome. Pass them along! And we all know it can be hard to get our kids to do anything we tell them to do eat. But ignoring a school’s regulations, or belittling a child for something he can’t control, or endangering a child because you don’t want to deal with taking an extra 90 seconds to make lunch or because “it’s not my responsibility” to care for someone else’s kids or because “THIS IS AMERICA!” is not a hack. It’s hateful.

Yes, parents of kids with severe food allergies are seeking special treatment for their children, if you consider “offering a modicum of consideration for the well-being of other people in your community by having to delay your child’s peanut butter consumption until later in the day so that a classmate doesn’t lose oxygen to his brain and die” to be “special treatment.”

You’re right, it’s not your responsibility to care for someone else’s kids, but doing your best to make sure someone still has their kids around to parent is simply the right thing to do, inconvenience be damned. It’s actually the bare minimum. We live in a civilized society, and there are some basic steps we need to take to maintain that. One of them is doing our best not to kill each other. allergies, peanut butter, lazy, parenting, dad and buried, parenthood, moms, dads, motherhood, fatherhood, health, funny blogs, humor, dad bloggers, mommy bloggers, kids, children, society

No, I don’t want to pay your kid’s medical bills, but taking a few extra minutes to potentially alter the food I pack in my kid’s lunchbox so that your kid incurs fewer of them is something I think I can handle. I’m a pretty big asshole, but when the stakes of my behavior include the potential death of children, I try my best to be a little more considerate.

For the love of Pete, people, it’s just peanut butter. I can’t live without beer but I can handle not having it for a few hours, until I get home!

Can’t you?

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30 thoughts on “Allergic Reaction

  1. Thank you so much can for sharing a link to my blog! I’m so sorry you have these challenges but I totally get what you mean about hoping you’re fighting the battle for a very long time!!

    1. I’m a do it yourselfer, honestly. My kids both have dyslexia, and rather send them to public school where I know they would not get the education they need, I keep them home and do it myself. I would probably do the same if I had a kid with severe food allergies. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world where people are considerate, and I know that there are too many people who are asshats like K who don’t care about anyone but themselves. Having said that, I do realize that many people are not able to homeschool and have to send their kids into potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis. I don’t know how you all do it, but God Bless You and your families.

  2. My 7 year old has a severe peanut allergy that involves a lot of prep work before the school year begins (speaking to school nurse and teachers) and throughout the school year. Every time the phone rings when he’s at school sends me into a panic. I pray that I never have to receive that phone call. I have come across a lot of inconsiderate parents even when I offer to pay to treat the whole class with treats for parties or rewards. Even when I go out of my way, I still get the looks and hear the whispers. I shrug it off to ignorance and it will not stop me from doing whatever I can to keep my son safe and also to not feel excluded from any activities. Best wishes to you and your family and stay strong! Thank you for writing this!!

  3. There are a lot of kids at my son’s school with peanut and nut allergies. Our local school board has guidelines in place to have a school be allergen free when necessary. I don’t understand the parents who complain. As if it’s more important for your kid to eat what they want than to prevent little Billy dying of anaphylaxis. I’ve got a cupboard full of peanut free stuff I send to school and my son loves Wow Butter and jam sandwiches. He’s happy, the school is happy and has to use and epi pen or call 911.

  4. This year is my daughter’s first year in a peanut free school.
    I was scared. She only eats pb and j. What am I going to feed her?? We talked about it and found things she actually likes better.
    Now I read all the labels to make sure but I’m constantly paranoid I’m going to mess up and cause someone to have a reaction. I couldn’t live with myself.

  5. Survival of the fittest. If your kid can’t survive in the world, lock him away in a bubble. Nuts and legumes will be eaten outside your bubble. Deal with it.

  6. thank you for this. my children don’t have food allergies (that i know of yet!). I really don’t understand how parents of kids with severe allergies feel but this helps.

    my daughter’s teacher sent home a note that my child couldn’t bring any nut in of any kind. but i heard mixed messages that they could bring it in just for lunch but not snack. unable to get a clear policy from the principal or the teacher, i’m just not sending her with anything nut. and yea the other day when i had NO food in my house and wanted to make a pb sandwich i didn’t let myself. i don’t officially know if there is a kid with a severe allergy in my daughter’s class and i don’t want to be that parent that doesn’t care. is it annoying sure – but is it worth endangering a child? NO. never. and if parent have a problem with it, they are awful people.

    a little human decency is hardly too much to ask…

  7. This is perfect. “I can’t live without beer but I can handle not having it for a few hours, until I get home!” – made me laugh, but it’s so true! Thanks for writing this- on behalf of all food-allergy parents, and compassionate people everywhere! 🙂

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  10. I never understood the dept a family must go through to keep a child safe. Until I had one of my own with severe nut allergies.
    Then I realized how inconsiderate I was. It truly breaks my heart. I wish we, as a society, had better humanitarian skills. We are not instilling enough values into our future leaders.
    People need to look belong there own gratifications to notice others suffering.

  11. In response to K. Who won’t ever return to post. I wish I could keep my son in a bubble and with all his life threatening food allergies I have to deal with it. But if something were to happen his mommy should be there that’s y school should be safe so deal with it

  12. Why don’t the parents of children with severe allergies educate their children instead? Communicate to them that they’re not allowed to share food? I would understand if it was something that was brought for the whole class, but why restrict what kids bring in their own lunchboxes? C’mon.

    1. Because its not that simple! Adults die because they ate something mislabeled or didn’t have any apparent nuts in it. It’s tricky! I’ve been fooled, allergists have been fooled. You don’t deal with this so you don’t know.

    2. Have you ever gotten peanut butter on your hand? It’s oily and sticky and it gets everywhere. Kids get it on their hands and touch everything. Door knobs, the water fountain, their friend’s pencil… Then a kid with a peanut allergy goes to get a drink of water and they have a life threatening reaction.

      Would you send your kid to school with a loaded gun? Of course not. What if there was only one bullet in it, and the safety was in. It’s probably won’t go off. And even if it did, he probably wouldn’t hit anyone. And even if it did, it probably wouldn’t kill them. Besides, you kid loves his gun and he should be able to take his favourite gun to school. It’s his right. It will hurt his little heart and damage his tiny feelings if he is told that he cannot bring his gun to school.

  13. My son has a severe food allergy and the best advice I can give is to teach your child how to be accountable for it rather than put it on other people. He knows to use his own Epi pen and knows what is in food. I know he can choose wisely in situations and doesn’t have to sit at a separate table ( which is lame).

  14. Believe me, allergy kids know what they can and can’t eat. My daughter knew at three she couldn’t eat peanut butter and would never share another kid’s lunch or snack. The problem is another kid eats a peanut butter sandwich, gets peanut butter on his hands, touches a door knob, then an allergy kids touches the door knob. Boom – allergic reaction. We know we can’t keep them in a bubble but shouldn’t we do all we can to protect them? Wouldn’t you?

  15. I send my kid to school with peanut butter bars, trail nut bars and protein bars with nuts, I am pretty sure that does not make me “The Worst”. I love kids and would never hurt a child.
    My personal take is that if you have a child with a nut allergy, alert the teacher, school and educate your kid what to stay away from. I have a nephew with severe allergies to nuts/ peanuts and asthma and he stays with me all the time. He is 8 now and has no problem with others around him eating peanut butter. He stays safe and always carries an epi pen with him in the event of an emergency and is well aware of what he can/ cannot eat.
    I don’t want schools to ban one of the best protein packed foods a child can eat – one of the few they will actually eat- because a handful of children can’t, there are so many other alternatives besides the easy “let’s just ban everyone” approach. Communication and education is a better alternative to banning foods.

    1. Yes my kid almost dies because of something like this last year. Now the school and the district is peanut free. Parents still tried to send peanut stuff with their kids and they were automatically charged with reckless endangerment

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