When we grew up it was an amazing day to crack open the lunch bag and see that mom had tucked an old fashioned PB&J inside. It was a special treat from the usual turkey, tomato and sprouts.
Try that now and you’re lucky to be locked up by the food police and have your kid stuck in solitary confinement anytime food is brought in the room.
For those of us with allergy free kids, we feel like we are being called lunchroom terrorists for trying to give our kids an easy to eat piece of protein in their diet.
The comparisons are easy to draw. One bad guy tries to light a match on his shoe and the entire population is subected to barefoot screening at each airport. A group try to light some liquids on board and suddenly a double double is considered contraband in the cabin.
Sometime in the past decade a drastic change has happened. The number of children with peanut allergies has doubled. Could video games be to blame? Well a lack of vitamin d is one of the things that can lead to a weakened immune system. The other issue is our over sensitivity to creating germ free environments for our kids. We’re so busy killing all the “bad” things, our kids have no chance to get exposed to them in small doses and build up the defenses.
We all know most reactions to nut allergies are no picnic. Serious complications can arise drastically affecting the child’s health. So we’re now treating nut exposure with the same hyper-vigillance we gave to minor germs.
Do you see the vicious and self-fulfilling circle this creates?
My son’s preschool is a nut free zone, and while it’s a pain, it’s understandable. 4 year olds can’t comprehend the severity of the situation and can cross contaminate each other. However the snack surveillance isn’t limited to nuts.
Whole grain chips were sent back with a student because the sharp edges were deemed a dangerous choking hazard. We were all warned about grapes on the first day of school. Bring them if you want, but only if they’re halved and quartered. Even a piece of fruit leather was not allowed in the room because the teacher called it “candy.”
While those restrictions feel over-the-top to parents of allergy free kids, they’re minor annoyances compared to the lengths a Florida school has gone to protect one of it’s students.
“.. the 6-year-old’s peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To protect the girl, students in her class are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break.” [source]
Parents are petitioning for the girl to be home schooled saying the restrictions placed on the rest of the student body are too severe. There is, apparently, only so much the rest of the class can take.
Does you child have an allergy? What are your expectations of the school and other parents to make sure your child is safe?
Image via LipGlossJunkie on Flickr