Why does my kid have to be forced to celebrate your kid's birthday at school in the first place?


Somebody shared the article above with me last week. I normally don't have the desire, time or energy to jump into the negatively fueled discussions about food allergies in schools anymore. However, after reading this article I had to write a rebuttal to point out a few things I think the author might be missing.

Let me start this article by saying that I have always been clear on the fact that I don't send my kids to school to have parties. Food allergy issues aside, it has always bothered me that part of choosing public school for my children has meant allowing more occasions than I can shake a stick at for eating junk and party food.

Even before food allergy issues reared their ugly multi -heads in our family, I didn't agree with the excessive amounts of unhealthy treats that my kids were bombarded with at school on a weekly (or more!) basis. Birthday parties for a classroom of 25-30 students meant at least one birthday celebration a week. Then there were holidays. Then rewards of food treats for reaching a classroom goal - usually a pizza or ice cream Friday. Don't forget the PTA ice cream social or the end of the year hot dog and ice cream picnic on one specific day, as well as all of the individual class room parties for the same occasion. If I want my kids to feel like they are doing something special for me on Mother's day, there's Muffins for Moms. If my husband wants the same on Father's Day, there's Donuts for Dads. There are also the activities like Walk to School Day (to promote exercise and getting outside) that ends, ironically, with a feeding frenzy at a Krispy Kreme laden table. The foods at all of these celebrations are always convenient, easy and terrible for your health. Krispy Kremes, store bought cupcakes and candy and pizza seem be the party foods of choice at our school.

The Kindergarten teacher likes to bake a gingerbread cake in the classroom and bring in cookies shaped like the individual United States when she teaches the kids geography. The remedial reading teacher has a jar of candy to offer as rewards for a job well done. So do a few of the other lower grade teachers. The Safety and Service Squad students get hot cocoa and pizza every so often to reward them for their hard work. Then there's the cupcake sale during class hours so students can go buy and eat cupcakes as a snack during class time (for a good cause!) and we have fundraising Bagel Day once a month for the same reason. We also have a Field Day full of outside sports and athletic activities that ends in popsicles and ice cream bars for the students. I could go on and on.

We probably could have gotten away without feeding our kids dinner for most of the school year with all of the ruined appetites and extra calories they were getting at school.

Then our district consolidated and our classrooms bulged to the bursting point and teachers realized it was simply taking too much class time to celebrate birthdays with parties during class time. Thankfully, the most frequent excuse to help increase the rate of childhood obesity and potential for adulthood diabesity in our local students was banned. We now recognize birthdays with a special routine, privilege or non-food keepsake in the classrooms.

Fast forward to today, where we have since had five kids in seven years, six years ago. They're all in public school now. All five are intolerant or actually allergic to dairy and completely avoiding every trace of it and the three younger ones all have multiple severe to life-threatening food allergies. Not that you'll remember (because even I barely can) and not that it really matters (because the bottom line is it means they can't eat ANYthing unless it came from home) but their allergies are:

Our school eliminated the classroom birthday parties and restricted peanuts from the entire premises and tree nuts and peanuts from the class rooms, but the rest of the food- in- the -classrooms-occasions continue. I used to try and keep up by making my own safe and healthier version of the treats provided so my kids wouldn't feel left out. Besides feeling like a Grinch every time I had to explain why I would not be contributing to the class party fund (ummm, because I have to try and figure out how to make a "dirt cup with worms" without being able to use 'real' pudding, oreos or gummy worms and it's going to cost me quadruple the time and money it is going to cost any non-allergy mother to include their child in this holiday party?),  I resented that my kids were being fed sugary crap in the middle of the day and taught to associate bad choices in food with happiness and fun at a holiday.

I also resented them coming home looking like my 4th grader did 2 weeks ago and having no idea whether it was from traces of foods in the classroom or industrial cleaners or what.

When foods can harm or even kill your children, you tend to lean toward de-emphasizing foods as a central part of bonding or socializing and focus more on the meaning of the occasion or the relationships of the people involved. At every turn, school and other well-meaning parents were undermining my attempts to keep my children safe and included. Not to mention that with five kids, it was almost impossible to keep up with the expense and effort of all of their classroom parties.

The parties aren't fun for food allergy kids. They are exclusionary, they are anxiety-inducing and for many, they cause uncomfortable reactions. The author of this article specifies that she wouldn't expect life-threatening allergy students to be exposed to their allergens, but anyone with lesser allergies should just learn to deal with it. Their parents should figure out what to do for them and her child should not be denied the right to their party because of non-life- threatening food allergy.

That goes for the little girl in my son's class with Celiac Disease who gets a stomach ache every Bagel Day and has to ask the teacher if her classmates can please wrap up their bagels. It goes for the little boy who is embarrassed about his lumpy, homemade dairy and soy free cupcake that would rather stuff it back into his lunchbox than be asked or teased about not getting one of the "normal" ones everyone else is eating. It goes for the diabetic kid and the vegan kid and the kosher kid and the GMO free, all organic kid and it goes for the ADD/ADHD kid who doesn't get to eat processed sugar or dyes.

 In America today, every classroom is estimated to have at least 2 students with food allergies and 1 in 3 children headed for diabetes (http://www.worldhealth.net/news/one_in_three_us_children_born_in_2000_wi/) and 1 in 3  with obesity, but let's ignore all of them and their needs and what these foods are doing to them because "normal" kids have a right to their unhealthy foods wherever and whenever they want.

If I were having a conversation with the author, I'd love to ask where the sense of entitlement comes from that causes her to feel that every student in her child's classroom has to celebrate her child's birthday, anyway? Just as she asks how allergy parents dare to inconvenience her child's right to allergen-laden party food, I would like to ask how she has the audacity to take my child's educational time away to encourage poor eating habits in a nation plagued by an epidemic of obesity and increased potential for adulthood diabetes in our children, as well as Celiac Disease and food allergies?

Won't her child get a party at home? Won't that child have a chance to celebrate with friends over the weekend? How many times does her child have to eat junk food and serve it to other people's kids who may not even have been interested in attending her child's party, if not compelled to do so by being in the same classroom? If we allergy parents should keep our "preferences" to ourselves, shouldn't you, also? In fact, isn't the intrusion of your non-curriculum based party in a public school the only reason we have to speak up in the first place?

 Here's an idea: you keep your parties out of our child's classroom and we'll keep our food allergy requirements out of your life.

My youngest son has skin allergies in addition to his anaphylactic ones. Holiday parties almost always result in him breaking out in hives, turning red and scratching incessantly. On their Dr.s advice, I finally stopped trying to provide their own foods so they could feel included and just started bringing them home every time there is a food-based event in their classroom. Before we started doing this, this is what my skin-allergy child looked like for most of his year in Kindergarten:

I know the author generously makes allowances for life-threatening allergies and concedes that classrooms should not have parties with foods that contain those allergens (and I do thank her on behalf of my child who has had several anaphylactic reactions), but this is what a child with skin allergies (i.e., open skin disorders, eczema, atopic dermatitis, etc...) might be like after a day of being exposed to and in constant contact with his allergens:

Keep in mind that this photo was taken at 4 am, and yes, that's blood on his wrist where he scratched his hives wide open after being in itchy torture all night. It's not life-threatening by any means, but I guess my kid feeling like this isn't worth as much consideration as your kid having a cupcake in the classroom.

Foods need to be removed from classrooms. More and more schools are realizing it just isn't worth the risk anymore. Food allergies are already at epidemic proportions - and on the rise. Most serious reactions occur in previously undiagnosed children.

Eating in a lunchroom surrounded by their allergens is already the riskiest part of most food allergy students' days. However, a lunchroom gets the tables cleaned in between lunch sessions. A student is only sitting there for about 20 minutes at a time and it's usually a very large, airy room. When foods are brought into the much smaller and more contained classroom, the parties can be for 30 minutes - or they can be all day. Nobody has to clean every single desk when the party is over. Children aren't made to sit down in one place to eat, but can mill and wander around, spreading cross-contamination everywhere.

 So, if a school keeps foods in the cafeteria only, an allergy child is at risk of direct exposure and cross-contamination for roughly 20 minutes a day. In a classroom party, that risk goes up to 7 hours a day. Add up all the occasions most schools have for bringing foods into the classrooms and multiply by that 7 hours and you might begin to understand why allergy parents would ask you not to bring in items containing their child's allergens.

Why couldn't we celebrate with non-food items like games and activities? Children could make memory books and sign them for each other. They could write warm fuzzies to each other about something they admire about each other. They could exchange themed pencils or Silly Bandz or the Crazy Loom bracelets all the kids are making today. I know I'd much rather chip in money to help pay for parties like this than for junk food. I know my children would cherish the keepsakes from these parties far more than the stomach aches and sugar jitters some of their classmates end up with.
 The schools will save wear and tear on the carpeting in the long run, too.

 I hope this helps to answer the entitled question of the article I am responding to. As far as we food allergy parents are concerned, your child can have all the birthday parties s/he wants. Just not where our children have to be unwilling victims made to feel like their health and safety come in second place to a party food.


crunchynurse said...

Well said!

Irene Grissom said...

Totally agree!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you on behalf of Liam who was teased and bullied, and cried bc his food was not the same, Seamus, whose joints double in size bc there is crap cookies everywhere all the time, and Anakin, who if God grants me the ability will never have to deal with this BS. Thank you for being you and doing everything you do.
XO ` gabriela

Anonymous said...

So, you would keep them in that school? Not move. Or enroll in a charter school. Or go to a private school. Home school? Cyber school? I moved from my neighborhood, one I loved, to get my aspie away from a bully. Just saying.

jack said...

i want my kids to learn how to navigate their issues in the real world. i don't want to raise them in a bubble by homeschooling the way non-allergy parents imagine and frequently suggest my children should be homeschooled (lock them up in the house constantly) - or by pulling them from every situation that involves things they are allergic to.

yes, i could homeschool - but homeschooling isn't locking your kid in the house and raising them in a bubble. homeschooling can and does provide for just as much socializing out in the world as public education, if homeschooling parents want that.

since the main reason i don't homeschool is that my children all insisted they wanted to go to public school and thrive on the social aspect of public school, i would still be trying to figure out how to deal with exposure to food allergies for my children as a homeschooling mom during sporting events, field trips, coop groups, educational days at science museums and theaters, etc... this is not an issue that locking my children into a bubble is going to solve. nor is that an option for us.

food allergy children are already at increased risk for depression, agoraphobia, OCD, anxiety and panic disorders, eating disorders and suicide. isolation and exclusion are NOT the answers.

they're part of the crowded, teeming world and they love being part of it. i want to give them that. i want to teach them to live in that world while being smart about their food allergies, not scared. i want to buy them a tiny buffer in elementary school to start learning how to do that. i want their school to just stop surrounding them with foods that harm them to give them the breathing space to figure out how to work with people on all the issues that *everyone* has to deal with.

i hope they go to college someday, and have jobs. in those situations, they need to know how to work with an environment that isn't custom-made for them. they need to have learned how to keep themselves safe, how to educate others about their allergies and cross-contamination safety, when others are open to it. how to deal with bullies and how to effect change in order to make someplace safer for the growing number of people with this disability. i even want them to eventually experience when they are completely on their own in keeping themselves safe because nobody wants to deal with their issues. they need to know how to rely on themselves.

so, no - we won't remove them from this school. they've been in this district since they started school, with the same friends and classmates.

it's wonderful the empathy and compassion this whole issue teaches *all* kids if adults and their food politics don't get in the way. all my kids' friends watch out for them and warn them of potential dangerous foods and remind subs and tell their parents they don't want such and such b/c it might be bad for other allergy kids in their class...

ppl often say, "maybe your children shouldn't be in that environment if everyone has to do something to accommodate them", but isn't that what we had to do in order to abolish racial segregation? to allow children with handicaps and special needs to attend public school? to get second hand smoke away from kids?

when an entire group of ppl has to ask for accommodations in order to improve their lives and have the same basic rights and privileges as the rest of society, it makes us better ppl to evolve toward kindness and empathy rather than to shunt them off and exclude them. all kids instinctively get that. and that is exactly why i still send my kids to public school.

Anonymous said...

I really don't mind the whole "don't hand out food to everyone" idea in school. I do have a problem with schools telling parents what they can or can't feed their own kids, which is what it's coming down to. I should be able to send my kid to school with a PB&J. If that's all we have in the house until next payday, that's all we have, and that's what my kid will get. If the school attendants are aware there is someone with a severe allergy that can't keep from touching someone else's food or maybe they're just too young to understand the gravity of it (like pre-K - 1st grade), then they need to watch them...just like they would in ANY OTHER riskier environment. But the truth is, peanuts, cashews, soy, milk, strawberries, wheat, etc are not unhealthy in themselves. So this is where I draw the line. I can't pack a lunch to cater to everyone else's dietary needs. Not entirely related to the birthday party scene you're discussing, but this is what gets under my skin when people start talking about restricting food in schools.

jack said...

it really comes down to liability, i think.
besides gun tragedies in schools, nuts are now the 2nd biggest killer of children in schools - esp peanuts.

when there is anything that even has the remote potential of harming a student, schools generally remove it. look at guns. they can't draw them, talk about them, pretend to play with them, bring in images of them, nothing. w/ so many tragedies in schools related to guns, i get it - even tho my children's father is a police officer and guns are not so taboo in our home. we also live in michigan, where hunting is a scared pastime for many families. but i get it, i understand the association. my kids can live w/out playing , talking about or drawing guns during the school day all week, no prob. we talk about it and support the school on this regularly in our home.

same goes for dogs now. no more dogs around schools in our area. i don't recall any child ever being attacked by a dog locally, but i guess i can see there's a risk. our dogs are part of our family and they are known for being "gentle giants" (great danes) who wouldn't hurt a fly, but okay, the dogs are out now, too - we keep ours off school ground when walking to school now.

then there's cigarettes. i've never heard of a child anywhere being harmed by a cigarette on school grounds. but there's a chance secondhand smoke causes cancer, so who would want to provide an environment that exposes kids to that? not schools! so no more smoking on school grounds, not even in your own car. i'm totally down with this one, even grateful.

then there's pen knives, swiss army knives, utility knives. even butter knives. all are a no-no. my four whittling boys are bummed, but i wouldn't ever want another kid's eye poked out on accident, so i support this one, too.

and now we come to peanuts. they kill more kids in schools than anything except guns today. all of canada banned them from all of their schools after a student death. and yet we still have to fight and beg and be dragged through broken glass to get schools to just go peanut free?
i don't get this one.

of course i'm biased b/c i have a child who has nearly died four times from accidental peanut ingestion b/c she touched some residue and then touched her face, so i'm going to be on the other side of the fence from you on this one.

but, honestly, i'll follow all the other safety precautions b/c i don't want even a small chance of causing another child harm - why is a convenience food like peanut butter such a hot topic for the same consideration? there are so many other options out there! and kids can still eat it at home all they want.

it's fortunate that it is becoming increasingly apparent to schools that the liability is simply too big to take the chance and more and more are voluntarily limiting or banning peanuts in schools.

it's unfortunate that it's taking so many injurious and tragic events to make this happen. especially when you consider how proactive schools are about things like dogs and cigarettes.

it's disheartening that it gets under your skin, but peanuts are becoming the new cigarette. it sucks, i know - we used to live on the stuff too, trust me. with 5 kids, it was all peanut butter and boiled eggs in my house - but there *is* life after peanut butter restrictions in schools - whereas that might not be an option for kids like mine without those restrictions.

TeachinAuntie said...

OMG yes. Thank you. The picture of your little one with his excema cracked & bleeding is EXACTLY what my little guy looks like, unfortunately regularly, as we are still discovering his allergens (12 and counting). That Huffpost article made my blood boil.

Anonymous said...

Would it be acceptable to put children with food allergies in the same class? I know kids take advanced and basic classes and electives in middle and high school but in elementary school, they usually stay in one classroom full time. That way, kids without allergies could eat things like peanuts and milk products without affecting kids with allergies.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like parties in the classroom or you are scared of your children being allergic to something then don't send them to public schools, other kids shouldn't be punished just because a few kids have allergies it's America kids should be able to have parties in the classrooms if the teachers allow it. If the whole class has allergies bring allergy free foods.

Anonymous said...

I agree with putting kids with food allergies all in one class that way they don't have the risk of an allergy.

Anonymous said...

Why are certain foods so important to people that it's worth segregating a group of children into one classroom so their kid can enjoy it at school? People need to take a HARD look at their attachment to food. It's like me sprinkling some highly poisonous substance around your kid. How would that make you feel? Segregating the children has horrible social consequences.

Leah @ The Informal Matriarch said...


Also, some of these commenters are NUTS, no pun intended. Segregate the children?

I'm so freaking tired of the food at school, feeling upset because my son feels left out, throwing out all the candy and baked goods that come home on Valentines day, having to volunteer every day that food is served at the school so I know my kid is safe. SO DONE!!

jack said...

not everyone has the option not to send their children to public schools. we are a family of 7 on one income and i want the ability to take jobs when i can while the kids are in school. furthermore, my kids don't want to be homeschooled, they love going to public school.

keeping foods out of the classroom isn't punishing other kids. it's not an inalienable right or even part of any curriculum that kids be entitled to eat crap in the classroom every week. not allowing them to do so wouldn't faze them one bit, especially if the party foods were replaced with fun activities.

you're right, it is America - where one in 3 kids is obese and another 1 in 3 now has diabetes. where our frankenfood is genetically modified beyond recognition and our children are now predicted to be the 1st generation that won't live longer than their parents.

i think it's way past time we quit shoveling junk foods at our kids and start looking at why they're getting so sick.

food allergy parents pay taxes, too.
our children bring in funding for the school district, too
- 5 kids' worth, in my case -
we vote for the millages our districts ask us to
we volunteer and work in the schools, too.
and there is no curriculum based reason to have foods in the classroom.
and now it's harming kids.
and we want it to stop.

jack said...

putting allergy kids all in one class won't work b/c they are all allergic to different things. one may be eating something another one is anaphylactic to. the only way to keep ALL kids w/ food issues safe is to just get it out of the classrooms and keep it in the lunchroom, where the tables are wiped b/t eating sessions and the students are only exposed to surrounding foods for short times.

Leah @ The Informal Matriarch said...

What jack said. All of what Jack said

Jillian said...

The rate of diabetes in children is no where near close to 1 in 3...it's estimated that if diabetes rates keep increasing at their current rate then by 2050 1 in 3 ADULTS will be diabetic, diabetes is rising but it's not even close to that yet in children, it's not even 1 in 30...

jack said...

oops, you are right - i needed to say that 1 in 3 are *headed for* diabetes..

jack said...

corrected it, thank you!

Anonymous said...

There is no judgment here, just curiosity. Did you nurse your children, if so how long? When were solids introduced? And did you have vaginal births? Did you receive antibiotics during labor?

Witchy Woman said...

Jack, I'm a preschool nurse and I applaud your article and common sense reasoning here. My own children do not have allergies, but many of my students do, and I'm sure some of my kids' classmates do, too. There is no reason to have food in a classroom. True, it's fun, but there are plenty of other fun ways to celebrate. Separating into different classes is not feasible both for your stated reasons and it would mean the potential of having disproportionately small class sizes which schools likely could not afford. Access to public school in our country is a right. Children cannot be forced to go to private or chartered schools, nor can parents be forced to home school. My children's school has a peanut-free table in the lunchroom. Frankly, I love pbjs, but if my kid was allergic to nuts I'd prefer the school be nut-free. Peanut butter is naturally oily, and that gets on hands, which kids aren't the best about washing. Oh, and on top of the danger of dog bites some kids have serious allergies to pet dander! Non allergy parents should at least have the courtesy of asking the teacher if the class has any allergies and plan accordingly. It's a way to show you care about your child's classmates and friends in addition to your own child.

jack said...

only 3 of my 5 have actual food allergies, so i assume you are asking about them specifically, tho all 5 were birthed vaginally and nourished the same.

all 5 were vaginal w/ no epidurals and no pain drugs and no abx.
fast labors, faster births.
the 3 w/ food allergies were all born at home, the last one breech. 2 in water, the last one came too fast to make it into the tub.
they were born at 37 weeks, 40 weeks and 38 weeks.
all 5 were exclusively breastfed with never a drop of formula or an artificial nipple. (elimination diet for me to keep nursing them).

all 5 were allowed to wean themselves. all nursed past the age of 5, with the exception of the 1st one to have food allergies and eczema (our 3rd child), who self-weaned at 3 1/2 years.
none were vaccinated until the age of 2, and then very selectively and only one shot per year. the youngest is unable to be vaccinated at all.

what's your working hypothesis of causation? mine is all the GMO foods i ate during pregnancies in my ignorance and del taco haze when one finally came to my area. also my equally ignorant obsessive-compulsiveness about antibacterial and sanitizing hand products, long since banned from existence in my home!! i am also certain the lack of enough sunshine to sustain a weed, let alone human life, here in michigan could be a contributing factor.

if not these, then it's either all my husband's fault and comes from his side of the family
he's right and it's simply that we were scraping the bottom of the barrel and pushed our luck by having so many kids so close together. :-P

jack said...

oops, forgot to answer about solids: not introduced until after 8 months in every case.

Anonymous said...

Since you have a child with eczema please be aware of a TERRIBLE side effect of cortisone cream called Red Skin Syndrome. Itsan.org has more info. Recovery is very lengthy, but everyone eventually recovers 100%. I am in month 10 of Red Skin Syndrome and try to spread the word to help prevent others from this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with MOST of this, however as a child who every year threw a party and only once had anyone come, I really felt special the day that they celebrated at school. Yes we had cupcakes or what ever, and it was a take them if you want them, but we always asked about allergies first (because I have them) and ALWAYS made a "treat that everyone could have. A favorite would be watermelon on a stick, pretty sure that hits something for everyone ;)
But I love the idea of not celebrating with food everytime, and really will strive to add this into our life, because I do it at home, ooh lets have a fill in the blank to celebrate. As I sit here itching because I had a "normal" cookie to fit in as an adult :P The things we ask kids to do we can not even do ourselves.
As far as previous post about pulling your kids from school, I agree, but not because she said so, but because of people like her, geze who wants their kids in school with a parent who can not even think of ALL of the kids, get a grip its not about you, you gave that up when you took on the responsibility of another life, it is about your child, and your childs friends!

Unknown said...

Spot on!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so passionate about this issue and a friend just sent me this link to your blog. I recently started an allergy support group for kids because of all the challenges we have experienced in elementary school -- My 7 year old is sensitive to eggs, dairy, gluten, almonds. Our kids need support and to know they are not alone. I'm speechless at the parents who feel we are depriving their children of more sugar filled birthday treats in no-food celebration schools. I'm hoping to get our school on board with non-food birthday celebrations. There are so many cheap and fun things kids can bring instead like stickers, erasers, pencils, tattoos and even a fun craft. Just go to www.OrientalTrader.com and there are a million ideas for just a few dollars. Save the food celebrations for home.

Oh, I could go on and on. To which I recently started blogging with my son because I badly needed an outlet for my passion about health and food sensitivities. Tonight we just did a post where my son picked the recipe because I know getting him involved in the food preparation is key. We found a super fun recipe for homemade "coco puffs" that are actually healthy and packed with protein. Check it out at www.WednesdaysWithLogan.blogspot.com We are trying to be a resource for other families challenged with food allergies/sensitivities and intolerance. These discussions need to be had and I just wish it wasn't so darn hard!

Anonymous said...

Secondly, I agree with eliminating birthday parties at school, it is time consuming and unnecessary. As you mentioned with an average of 25-30 kids in a classroom, it gets to be quite expensive to send kids to birthday parties because there usually are several every month. Teacher's should just do a monthly birthday event. So for September birthdays, celebrate all the kids birthdays with some fun activities and non-food items, the kids could make a birthday card for them --- or I have no idea --- but there has to be another way.

Unknown said...

Amazing how much energy and discussion you all have put into this...im surprised from the sounds of things how we all that are 40 or older ever survived school...what with pizza and sugery snacks and birthday parties.....now if only people put this much passion into running the country.....oh and to this lady...a whole lot of whining over spilled milk...alas vouldnt be yours...cause they are dairy intolerant" ....or whatever...

Anonymous said...

And will you complain when your child isn't invited to a classmate's birthday party because of his or her allergies? Or will you complain because child is invited and you can't stand to be inconvenienced by the fact that they aren't going to throw an allergen-free party on their kid's birthday so your kid can be there?

I'm allergic to Christmas trees. It's a new thing for me. It's not fun, because I love Christmas trees. If I am in the same room with one I start having immediate strep throat like symptoms. If I touch one I break out in hives. But I don't tell my friends that they have to buy a fake Christmas tree just so I can visit THEIR homes. Because I enjoy their company I go to their home and have my tea and antihistamine and nasal spray and I compliment their tree and I don't go near it. I take breaks for fresh air. I wash up if I think I might have come into contact with someone or something that touched the tree. A small price to pay for socialization.

Anonymous said...

Omg, jack, nursing kids until they are in kindergarten. Nothing unusual about most of what you said, until you think about letting breast feed until that age.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it cut off my comment, the second part is, why breast feed for that long? What are the benefits?

jack said...

i am a lactation counselor specializing in normal term breastfeeding as well as nursing dyads or triads with food allergies.

much of the rest of this blog is devoted to my passion about babies and children being breastfed for biologically normative amounts of time.

breastfeeding until 5 years or longer may be unusual in the US, but it is not unusual as a global average.(4-7 years is the global norm for weaning). we do it FAR too briefly here in the US, and it is a large part of why our children suffer so many health and emotional illnesses!

the benefits of nursing until they are ready to wean themselves are the same as the benefits of nursing at all. the benefits of human milk do not switch off when the child reaches a magic age of 1 or 2 or any age.

in fact, the longer you go, the more some benefits increase, like the extra IQ points they garner compared to when they are formula fed. like the reduction in their rates of childhood cancers and adulthood obesity. also mom's rate of breast cancer, as well as the child's. there are many more, but these are some of the most important to me.

these benefits are all well-documented and published if you care to do an internet search. in my work, i am lucky enough to be surrounded by like-minded mamas and forget that this still may be shocking to some.

selfishly, i would like to add that it made my life so much easier w/ 5 kids in 7 years. it helped prevent tantrums, nap or bedimte struggles, sibling rivalry (because i was nursing 2 and 3 at the same time for several years) and other undesired behaviors. nursing a toddler and beyond instills such a sense of bonding and peace that most children raised this way are very complacent and well-adjusted.

also, my youngest has had many very dire health issues that started with his severe allergies right from birth. he became allergic to everything- even rice and corn in the most microscopic forms and amounts. he could not even tolerate hypoallergenic supplemental formulas. had i not been breastfeeding him at 4 still, when he had to be hospitalized out of state due to his continuing decline and inability to eat anything, i don't know how he would have survived. as long as he could nurse and i avoided his allergens, he had a chance.

jack said...

i will not complain when my child is not invited to a classmates' birthday party, no worries there. as i said, i do have 5 children. 2 of whom are already in 8th grade. we tend to be a bit more alternative than most of our community and i have never approved of mainstream forms of celebration.

the emphasis on excess consumerism and wanton gluttony with harmful food has never been something i wanted to teach my kids to participate in, even before food allergies came into our lives.

when you have a bigger family, you also simply can't afford to rent out a gymnastics studio or spend a day hosting 12 children at a chuck e cheese's. my kids have never gone to these parties, nor do we celebrate our own birthdays like that.

however, we have had very close friends of one of my allergy children invite her to a party that was specifically not food-oriented or all about excess on a cpl of occasions.

she was thrilled to go and i was thrilled to provide allergy-friendly treats that were healthful and tasty enough for all to enjoy. these parties weren't tailor made for my daughter, but because these families also didn't want the giant sugar fest and wasteful mountain of gifts their that overwhelmed and overstimulated their children -and my daughter wasn't the only one with food issues there.

jack said...

we don't use steroids for my skin allergy son. i am all too awae of ITSAN and RSS. we explored that as a diagnosis for him with Dr. Rapaport a couple of years ago. the condition that he was diagnosed with which has led to his severe allergies contraindicates the use of any steroids - and we barely used them before he was diagnosed, as i prefer natural remedies whenever possible.

Tiffany said...

I found this article frustrating. I feel awful that your children have terrible allergies, it sounds like day to day life for them must be difficult. However, you are the parent, and it's your responsibility to look for options that work for them. You can only complain so much and ask others to make changes for you. If you find that the changes consistently aren't meeting the appropriate standard, then take control of the situation. For example, if your child had a friend who gave them potentially hazardous items every time they visited them, I assume the appropriate action would be speaking to the parents. If after that conversation, nothing changed, you would probably stop sending your kid to their house. While taking them out of public school may not be the ideal option, it's something to consider if you really feel that it's not the best place for them healthwise. It's unfortunate that it may come to that, but it's ultimately it's your responsibility to ensure they are surrounded with food items that are safe for them.

Brit said...

Thank you! I totally agree. NO FOOD IN THE CLASSROOM. Why is this SO hard for people to wrap their heads around? Kids don't need not-special-cupcakes from Giant Eagle to feel special and even if they do...they do not need it during classroom time!

How about a special "birthday boy/girl" hat and everyone sings Happy Birthday and the birthday kid gets to pick his/her favorite story for story time? BAM! Done. Precious little Emma or Mason feels like a special snowflake, no one eats sugary trans-fat carb-bombs that may or may not cause fatal reactions for some kids but will certainly jack the blood-sugar of ALL the kids, parents don't have to stress about picking up or making treats, teachers don't have to wash sticky fingers or administer epi-pens, kids whose parents can't afford treats don't feel bad, kids who might die from eating the treats don't feel left out, and plus, a lot less classroom time is wasted. Why the heck are some parents fighting to keep junk food in the classroom?! This should not be a debate.

If you want to feed your kid cupcakes on your own time, that's totally cool! That's your right as a parent. But stop feeding OTHER kids cupcakes during CLASSROOM time. That is NOT your right.

Unknown said...

I think it is sad that the kids with allergies can't enjoy the goodies they have at school. Poor things!! Instead of having cupcakes in the classrooms for parties why don't they hand out small toys or fruit. I am going to start doing this for my kids birthdays. I never saw it from this point of view before. My kids don't have allergies to food but I have never liked all the junk they are fed in school. But when I make their lunches for them I shouldn't have to go out of my way to pick things that are safe for other kids to eat instead of my own.

jack said...

obviously i do everything in my children's home lives to keep them safe. they don't go to restaurants, sleepovers or other ppl's homes. they don't go to other kids' bday parties or other family members' homes for holidays. i also do what i can to help keep them safe in school by being very proactive, involved and constantly educating my children.

however, if you think this means all the responsibility is on me, you are sadly mistaken. a school is legally obligated to keep ALL children safe and continue the means to do so that have to be done in a child's home life. they also have to remedy any situation they have caused which prevents a child from accessing public education.

(for example if they have no buses and a child's family loses their home and has no transportation to school, then the school must pay for a taxi or otherwise arrange transportation).

my allergy children have as much right as my non-allergy children to be in a safe learning environment. if something at school threatens their lives or access to a public education, then by federal law the school must remove or modify it.

if my child was in a wheelchair, then by federal law the school must modify the school with ramps and/or elevators to make the school accessible to my child.

they are the same thing. life-threatening food allergy is a disability. and in this country, schools must keep children with disabilities as safe as their parents do at home and must not host an environment that prevents a disabled child from getting an education.

does the parent of a child with diagnosed emotional impairment have to come to school and watch his every move and prevent him from hurting himself or others or damaging property? no, guess who does that? the school. does the parent of a child in a wheelchair have to come and maneuver their child up the stairs? no, the school has to provide for a way that the child can get upstairs.

it's the same w/ severe and life-threatening food allergies. the only difference here is that allergy parents are more than willing to do the job for the school as much as possible b/c we know it's a newer issue and ppl not so familiar with it don't always get it. we also know that other parents resent it. so we'd rather just quietly try to keep our kids safe ourselves.

jack said...

by packing safe foods, leaving safe foods with the teacher for our kids for when she gives the other kids treats. by coming in as often as we can and volunteering and watching our kids ourselves. by educating the teachers and other parents whenever possible.

but the truth is, it's on the school to keep our kids safe. i guarantee you, if allergy parents weren't so involved and proactive and more kids were having serious reactions at class parties, they would already have been done away with. and it's already happening, slowly but surely. more and more schools are realizing the risk isn't worth it. these parties undo all the work we try to do to keep our kids safe.

and they go against what the school tries to teach our students: that we should be fair to everyone and try to include everyone. no van tine's day cards may be brought in unless you made for one for every single student. no bday invitations may be handed out at school unless there dis one for the entire class. nobody loses in schools anymore, nobody gets left out. well, unless you're a food allergy kid in a school w/ food celebrations, parties and rewards.. then it just sucks to be you.

if an allergy need is too difficult for a school to reasonably accommodate (like a child w/ airborne anaphylactic wheat or dairy allergy, for example), then the school must provide an alternative plan that keeps the child safe and still able to access a public education.

in my work with families dealing with food allergies as well as my research for my own child, whom we weren't sure could safely attend public school initially, i know of children who have had to have a specially trained dog come to school with them to smell and alert them to their allergens in an environment. i know of a child who requires a health aid to shadow his every move, every minute of every day with his emergency medication to ensure he doesn't touch his face or begin showing reactions while in school.

i know of a child who attends school "virtually" b/c it is simply too dangerous for him to be around other children with food proteins he is allergic to on their persons or clothing. i know of many children who must be homebound educated by their school district.

guess who pays for all of this? the school district.
so, if you were a school district, would you rather keep letting your schools have class parties that risk allergy students having serious (or fatal) reactions in school which could lead to parents and the child's dr. demanding that you do one of these incredibly expensive things to keep that child safe...or would you rather just stop the class parties and eliminate the most enormous and unnecessary risk these children face in school?

Anonymous said...

Off topic comment. Someone posted this link on a Facebook page. All those health problems for your kiddos despite being breastfed. Another example on how benefits of breastfeeding are blown way out of proportion. My formula fed kids (not by choice. If I were to do it differently I would have tried harder to overcome my problems) are very healthy. No allergies whatsoever, no ear infections, no major colds or flu, no asthma, no antibiotics ever. Immune systems of steel plus they are very intelligent. My 7 yr old daughter is at the top of her class, and my 5 yr old is following in her footsteps. Just an observation.

Unknown said...

Simply put, the value of a child's life should always trump the value of the food that could cause serious harm. It is that simple.

Unknown said...

Simply put, the value of a child's life should always take priority. It doesn't get more basic than that. We are not talking about a Christmas tree that you can't be around because you get itchy...we are talking about a 5 year old dying because they, by way of example, take one bite of a pretzel that, unbeknowst to those around the child, is stuffed with peanut butter. It is just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you shouldn't have had 5 children? There is obviously something wrong in your family that ALL of your kids have issues. Stop acting like your 5 are the "special snowflakes" and should have more rights than other children. And you pretty much just confirmed that extended breastfeeding doesn't protect your kids or give them any special benefits since they are all obviously less-healthy than kids who weren't breastfed until school age (which sounds like you did for your own benefit, not theirs). Survival of the fittest - perhaps nature is just trying to do its job by weeding out the "unfit" population? Get off your high horse and do everyone else a favor by pulling your special snowflakes out of school and put them where they won't bother everyone else. You don't do anything "conventional" or fun, so why send them to a conventional school? Are you going to keep creating more sick children and over-populate ala The Duggar family? Or have you decided 5 with severe issues is finally enough?

jack said...

i think about that often. what i come away with is that all the breastfeeding in the world can't overcome genetic predisposition. but i wonder how much worse my children's issues would be if i hadn't breastfed them? my youngest son's dr.s all agree that he probably would not have survived.

i hold out much hope that they will still reap the benefits that reach over their entire lives like lower chance of obesity and cancers. my ob tells me that after 13 years of non-stop breastfeeding, my chances of ever getting breast cancer are almost nonexistent. my daughter's (and sons - they get it, too!) are also drastically reduced.

my multiple allergy children should also have asthma, something that breastfeeding is especially known for helping to prevent. so far, there's not a trace of it. they also all have higher than average IQs - and so far at least one is extremely gifted.

so, maybe we didn't hit the jackpot on the allergy stuff w/ all this breastfeeding...but the other benefits alone still made it more than worth it.

5 kids and i never once had to get up in the night to make a bottle or listen to a baby cry while i tried to mix one. 5 kids and i never lost a night's sleep until my last son's severe illness. 5 kids and never a single public tantrum. 5 kids and i knew our chances of losing an infant to SIDS were greatly reduced. 5 kids and i knew every time a local baby died from necrotizing enterocolitis and i thanked my lucky stars we were never going to have to worry about that. nor contaminated/tainted formula.

we have our health issues for sure, but i'll still take breastfeeding over the additional and unacceptable lifelong risks of formula use any day of the week - especially for food allergy children.

Life is Simple said...

I love it when people say mean and terribly cruel things yet post anonymously.

Life is Simple said...

And it is a falsehood that the world is over populated. You stay out of her vagina, I am sure she will be more than happy to be out of yours. Ok? Rude much? I understand that we, those who do not have kids with these issues, want our kids to have class parties. We want our kids to have the same memories as we did. The reality is, food is not the same and kids die because of them. The least we can do is come up with a compromise. Like no food in the classroom, only in a party room. No peanut policies if your child has a student in their room that has a peanut allergy, just common courtesy of others. I believe Jack wants her kids to be able to navigate through life, which will have nuts in it. I do not believe she wants them to live in a bubble, if that was the case they would not go to Public school.

jack said...

Oh, good! Anonymous is here! I was starting to worry you weren't going to show. I never feel my blog is really getting shared until someone posts anonymously that my children should die. So thank you for that, I can relax now.

But how on earth do you get from 5 kids to 19? I can tell you, my uterus does NOT appreciate your math skills! Why is it that every time you ppl come along and can't partake in any meaningful or cohesive form of communication on this subject, you go right for attacking a person about the function of their funbits?
I don't even know you and you're all obsessed with what my uterus and boobies have been up to! I feel so naked!

Now that you got it out of your system, do you feel better? Did you sick up all the evil onto my blog? Good. Now go back to your poison kit or your pipe bomb plans or whatever it is you do for fun and let the grown ups talk.

Unknown said...

It is so very sad to me that people feel it is acceptable to say things like Anonymous did. It's just rude - inappropriate and downright cruel.

Fact is with what is going on in our world with allergies on the rise we MUST pay attention and be careful with all children not just our own. A compassionate society protects all children - not just the ones who aren't allergic to this or that. As mom with a child who has a severe dairy allergy I know all too well the challenges of keeping my boy from eating the crap served at class parties - one too many times he (and 3 other kids on class) came home with a severe reactions because parents were asked to bring in dairy free and some just didn't think it was that important. OUR children suffered because of their thoughtlessness and lack of care. When we had a child with celiac in call I made sure treats were gluten free...why? Because I got it - it would HURT that child to eat food with gluten and wheat in it. I CARE. That others think it's more important that their child have some specific food rather than pay attention to the LIFE and HEALTH of another child just blows me away. All I can say is I hope those who think it's a pain in their ass to protect other children never have a child who needs this kind of protecting...this is the worst kind of fear...sending your child into a public place knowing others don't give a shit if your kid lives or dies because their child wants a PB&J...

Anonymous said...

I understand where you are coming from but what about those kids who merely breathing around those foods causes allergic reactions? Specifically peanut butter and other nut allergies.

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!! *so* well said!!!

jack said...

airborne allergy accommodations are usually worked out b/t the parents, the child's doctor and the school. i have a child with airborne reactions to some things and all he requires is an air purifier in the rooms he spends the most time in and sometimes getting fresh air when he starts having symptoms.

some cases require eliminating the allergen(s) from the entire school. going peanut and tree nut free could make a school completely safe for a child with anaphylactic airborne peanut or tree nut allergy.

as i mentioned above, some cases (like something as common as dairy or wheat) that could not be reasonably removed by a school might result in the school paying to homebound educate that child.

of course, many families might also choose to homeschool and leave the issue of trying to make public schools part of the equation totally out of the mix.

Anonymous said...

Umm...sit somewhere else? Just an idea.

jack said...

did you read the article? how can sitting somewhere else possibly help when you are stuck in a classroom w/ 30 students milling around, spilling, smearing, dropping and wiping your allergens everywhere? there's nowhere else to sit when the party is in your contained classroom. the party is what needs to sit somewhere else so that allergy students can have safe classrooms.

Anonymous said...

There are kids that will react to peanuts even just being in the same room. You seem to assume that every kid with an allergy has rich parents. Why don't you send your kid to another school, a private school, or homeschool? Sounds like a good option to me. Maybe that allergy kids parents can't afford 3 more copays and allergy meds that they need because you want to give your kid peanut butter and act like it's your only option. I feel sorry for your kid. They are going to grow up a narcissistic, arrogant person because of your sorry attitude and one day they will learn a valuable life lesson that most people learned decades ago. Separate but equal is not equal, and "You can't sit here." is not a good enough answer.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

I agree! I'm sorry that your child has a food allergy but that doesn't mean everyone else should suffer. My friends son is very allergic to peanuts and if I happen to be baking peanut butter cookies he goes to the living room or does something else. His siblings are not being kept from what they like because he's allergic. Just like my husband is deathly allergic to almonds and we don't keep them out of the house. I watch what's in food when cooking for all of us and I still have almonds in things and tell him. He also asks before taking something someone made just like my friends son.... I'm sorry but no body would eat anything if we couldn't eat what everyone is allergic to.

jack said...


what we parents of children w/ food allergies are asking is not that you make your children "suffer" by not having a food they enjoy anymore, but that you keep it away from places where allergy children are confined in the same space as that food for long periods of time. in your own home, manage foods and food allergy family members and guests however you see fit.

that's one small meal a day at school. that's a class party that is either hosted in the cafeteria or celebrated without food.

is that really making other children suffer? is that really so much to ask?

Anonymous said...

We should be asking why do these children have allergies??? I don't remember it being like this growing up, in this article all her children have issues and I know of other families with the same. Just wondering why???

Anonymous said...

So I've always gotten frustrated with the amount if sugar my son receives at school. His teacher rewards the children with gummy bears or m&m's then other teachers reward him the same way throughout the day and by the time he comes home he's hyperactive and has a bad attitude. Luckily he doesn't have any allergies but I spend a lot of time being frustrated about it, wishing I could say something to the teachers without embarrassing my son or having him excluded from class activities so I've let it go for now. That being said I suffered from allergies as a child,I was that kid with the weird food and I was excluded from class parties and my play dates always started with an embarrassing lecture from my Mom to my friends parent explaining just how serious my condition was and not to feed me anything. Maybe that's why I don't want to 'rock the boat' for my son at school...for his birthday party at school, we bring goodie bags for him to share with his classmates that are full of little toys, stickers, puzzles, temp tattoos and we usually include one lollipop or small piece of candy but since they're handed out at the very end of the day the bags get opened at home and its up to the parents if and when they get the candy. I really hope schools start finding different rewards for children (in one class my son gets little notebooks and a pencil which, as an artist, he loves) that encourage learning and working hard without destroying their health in the process.

jack said...

trust me, this question is one of the central themes of all my research!

some of the current main theories are:

~today's kids get less vitamin d from sunshine than previous generations, thanks to more effective sunscreens and awareness about skin cancer.

~less vitamin d from sunshine also due to better electronic entertainment, trend toward warmer climates and better indoor cooling options than ever before.

(vitamin d in optimal levels helps support immune function. excessive allergies are essentially an immune system function gone haywire. it's true that a majority of allergy children also have low vitamin d levels these days)

~overuse of antibacterial products and an overly hygienic culture.
(if the immune system never has germs and bacteria to fight off, it might get 'confused' or 'bored' and start fighting off strong food proteins instead. we are seeing as other parts of the world get better hygiene and more affluence, their rate of food allergies go up).

~today's 'frankenfood'. the foods we eat today are not the foods our parents ate. they are genetically modified beyond anything the human body has ever encountered before. they are also loaded with preservatives, dyes and other additives that are chemically closer to plastics than foods.

~today's vaccines. kids get more of them than ever before and ingredients show that they contain food proteins in many cases, even peanut.

~modern birth practices. if a baby is not born vaginally, they are not exposed to their mother's gut flora and fauna on the way out of the birth canal and therefore not colonized with her bacteria - good and bad. they are essentially starting life out with an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in their gut. an imbalanced gut is thought to lead to immune system issues, as the largest part of the immune system is located in the GI tract.

~modern infant feeding practices. formula use instead of exclusive breastfeeding colonizes an infant's gut with far more "bad" bacteria than good. if the infant was also not born vaginally, that could be a person starting out life with a very imbalanced gut, which is thought to adversely affect the immune system long-term.

~early use of antibiotics and other medications. antibiotics and reflux/GERD/antacid meds directly impact the function and flora and fauna of the gut. when used early enough in life and/or often enough, the theory is that the gut imbalance they cause leads to gut damage, which adversely affects the immune system.

i'd love to hear of any more theories out there, these are the ones i am most familiar with.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but do you people hear yourselves? Pull your heads out! At home you can eat, do and think whatever you want but school is a place our children go to learn how to be part of a community, to think of and care about others, to share, to solve difficult problems that they'll face as adults out in the world, to appreciate that everyone is different. My children have no allergies but if the school banned food in the classrooms or became completely nut free I would support it because it means there was a need for it and the school was great enough to recognize it and do something about it. Spend five seconds searching online and you'll find hundreds of non-nut choices for your childs school lunch that are just as inexpensive as pb&j. Sure it might take a little extra time and effort on your part, but isn't it worth it to show our children how to open their minds and recognize they're not the only people inhabiting this world? That every life has value? It's the American curse to be entitled, selfish, brats and the only way to change that is to teach our children to be better than we are.

boyhowdy said...

Why do I, a teacher, bring donuts and candy for my high school kids? Because I was told I should, by the woman who decides my fate as an evaluator, and now, if I do not, I could get FIRED. In Massachusetts, the state regulations for nutrition in schools start at the top, and are quite powerfully on your side and mine...but enforcement at the school and local level is often a mess, due to "old school" teachers-turned admins with outdated ideas and less oversight than we have. To fix this, you want to go to the principal and superintendent level - NOT the classroom level, where teachers often have no power over how or whether they use food, and NOT the school committee (yet), where there is almost always a policy that respects nutrition and food difference as a rare-if-ever exception, under strictly defined state parameters.

Anonymous said...

People forget that no one *has* to eat allergens. Are kids who are *not* being served junk food or allergenic food being punished? Of course they are not. No one is suggesting that children should fast for their entire school day. There are simple, inexpensive alternatives for peanuts and doughnuts. I agree. Let's teach our children that a few simple precautions to keep each other healthy are worth it.

Anonymous said...

Parties in school are for teachers that don't have LESSON PLANS!!!

Sarah Evans said...


Anonymous said...

There are kids who can DIE just from being in the same room as peanut butter. While not all kids are that allergic, there are kids who will react if someone ate peanut butter and then touch them, or if they touch residue of peanuts on a table, chair or toy. This residue can be too small to see. It's not a matter of maturity or fairness- it's a matter of protecting life.

Unknown said...

My 2 chrildren dont have allergies thankfully but i am in direct contact with my niece and nephew whom both have a deadly allergy to red dye #40 and some of the yellow dyes that go into food. So I am always making sure that everything i buy is ok for them to eat because i never know when they will be coming to my house. Amen to you for sticking for your kids and also all the other parents and children that deal with it!!!!

Sarah said...

This makes me want to cry. I have an anaphylaxis allergy along with "regular" allergies, but have never heard of some of these skin allergies. The pain looks tremendous. Thank you for the education. I am sharing this with others I know.

jack said...

To Anonymous:
yes, i'm getting your comments expressing your opinion that our allergy children are freaks who should be kept in bubbles or allowed to be 'weeded out' by survival of the fittest. yes, i understand that you are so angry about your children being asked to give up their junk food that you would rather see my children die.

no, i'm not going to keep publishing your comments. yes, i'm discriminating against you and refusing to accommodate you. (frustrating, isn't it?)

you probably think your comments are very upsetting to me and hope they are crushing my spirit and withering my conviction that my children have the right to be safe in schools. you probably think you are putting me in my place and that most of society agrees with you.

i would urge you to read the comments on the original article i wrote my own as a rebuttal to. a few years ago, you might have been right. i used to not even bother to read comments on articles about food allergy children in public schools b/c they were all like yours. the tides seem to be slowly changing these days.

out of the 300ish comments on the article i am responding to, the people who feel like you are very few and far between. maybe it would help you to take a peek at a broader selection of society replying there. get an unbiased dose of reality and see how people really think this issue should be dealt with.

i published your first ignorant and evil comment here as a reminder to allergy parent readers that ppl like you are still out there. you serve to keep us always vigilant. to r/m that we can never let our guards down. so thank you for that. message received. when i write articles on food allergies and public school issues, i always get at least one person who feels children like mine should do everyone a favor and die and i always publish one.

that's all you get. i have spent my entire adult life advocating for children in one way or another and i'm not about to provide a forum or publish views from someone wishing harm on a federally protected group of them. this blog is to spread awareness and information, not drama and hate. so, if you still feel a need to keep spewing your filth about your violent feelings toward a group of children with a disability, by all means, do. but i won't publish them.

i try to understand ppl like you. i actually was one once. i still r/m the 1st time i ever heard of food allergies, when my oldest started kindergarten 8 or 9 years ago. a child in his class seemed to be allergic to all the foods my son lived on and we got a note home informing us that we could not bring them. my husband and i felt annoyance and disbelief. i never even knew someone could be allergic to *foods* - how could someone live and thrive that way?

but instead of wallowing in my selfish emotions, i sought information. his mother unhesitatingly left her phone number for any parents with questions or concerns. i went straight to the horse's mouth and and found out that i was badly under-informed. clueless, even. i opened my mind and listened to her. and my empathy kicked in instantly. and the thought of doing anything that could harm her son became abhorrent to me.

and then, a few short years later, imagine my shock to have a child with similar issues! that woman and her son were the first ppl i thought of calling when i was told my child couldn't be around her allergen, ever. then i had another and yet another! i laugh now to think that mom's requests were so inconvenient when i reflect on what we've had to do for my own children over the years! the irony of my own initial annoyance and then having that same annoying fate visited upon me threefold does not escape me! it has taught me not to go with a knee jerk emotional reaction - even with ppl like you - but to meet intolerance with tolerance and an open mind.

jack said...

but my tolerance has a limit. repeatedly calling children with disabilities names like "freak" and expressing your desire to see them die pushes me past my limit. i'm extremely sorry to hear that you have children of your own with this philosophy of yours.

i take heart in knowing that even the children of parents with similar intolerant and hateful views are embarrassed by them when they get to school.

for example, we have children caught in nasty divorces w/ custody battles at our school. when one parent loses full custody and moves out of our community, they often refuse to follow our peanut ban on their custodial days, out of spite toward the other parent. as soon as the child gets to school w/ the pb&j the spiteful parent made, they go straight to the office and turn it in. i feel so badly for them, they are completely embarrassed about their ignorant and spiteful parent. they will straight out tell the school, "my dad says he doesn't have to follow the rule b/c he doesn't want me to stay in this school anymore, but i know i'm not supposed to have it here."

the only one you are causing emotional turmoil to is your own children, who must please and obey you when they are with you and then adapt and be a well-adjusted and cooperative part of society when they go to school, which is full of food allergy issues and accommodations these days. you're not helping them to navigate today's world at all if you are teaching them to be completely intolerant about food allergies. they are the ones who will have to go through 12 years of school with this burgeoning epidemic, and then college, and then have a career with people with this issue, too.

but you know what? if you really can't stand the way your school is going to be dealing with it, you could always raise them in a bubble. why don't you homeschool them? you don't have to put them in public school, you know. @@.

your emails and horrible messages don't upset me. we allergy parents grow a thick skin quickly after learning to hit the ground running with such a challenging issue. tests can be inaccurate, dr.s can be wishy-washy, society can support you or turn on you, even family can support you or undermine you. we learn quickly to seek out that which informs and supports our endeavors toward awareness and safety and learn a valuable lesson about caution from the rest.

however, your messages do cause me a tiny ripple of concern.
but not for me; for you.
you do know expressing things like the opinions you are sending me can really backfire on a person, don't you?

like, you do know that commenting on a person's blog as 'anonymous' is not really keeping you totally anonymous, don't you?
have you heard of 'google analytics'? it stores and sorts and and categorizes all the demographics about the ppl who comment on a blog. you can pay to upgrade for more detailed information, too.

so, even though a commenter might choose 'anonymous' as their name, a blogger can still see where they are posting from. especially if it's a publicly registered place of business. you know, like schools and hospitals and such. private homes are just as easy to find an address for, if you're savvy about these things.

have you seen some of the things happening online to bigots and ppl w/ discriminatory agendas toward minorities or protected groups of ppl these days?

jack said...

there was the teacher (hey! didn't you say you were a teacher in one of your messages to me? what a coincidence!) who posted a picture of herself eating a pb&j in her nut-free classroom. that picture went viral and must have gone through every single food allergy group i belong to, in every social media format. she was fired 6 days after she posted it.

or how about the ppl who leave nasty notes to gay servers and get on the computer to find their note published everywhere and their friends and church and job shunning them?

oh yeah, and then there was the public relations professional who tweeted something about 'hoping she didn't get aids when she was in africa, but oh yeah, that wouldn't happen to her b/c she just r/m'ed she's white'.

she landed in africa to find out she was fired and everyone on twitter and every other social media outlet was disgusted with her.

the internet never forgets. you should think more carefully about the things you put out there. especially if you truly do work with children or other vulnerable ppl in your care. employers tend to care about their employees saying hateful things about wishing harm and death on a group of ppl they may serve or work with.

these children of mine that you hope will die as soon as possible happen to be fathered by a member of law enforcement. in a part of the country that has a really cutting-edge internet crimes unit.

which means i'm very informed on what makes a written message go from being just nasty drama to hate speech. here's a clue: stating that you are aware that the ppl your are wishing harm on belong to a disabled or otherwise protected group isn't a good idea.

also, working in a field that implies you are very well aware of their disabled status grants you an increased amount of awareness of your discriminatory intentions against a vulnerable group. in other words, you should really know better if you're actually a teacher.

i'm also very aware of when the amount of messages cross that line from 'drama' into 'harassment'.

and when expressions of ill will become threats. and what happens when those threats are expressive of a hate crime instead of just the normal kind of crime.

are you as informed on all of this as you are on your pet theories about evolution and medical advances letting ppl survive whom we would be justified in helping to die?

no? well, feel free to keep sending me your thoughts on the issue - i'm reading with great interest, and saving them all even tho i'm not publishing.

bonnie555 said...

The f-ing entitled, arrogant bullshit so many evil commenters are posting make my blood boil. Seriously, I want to slap some of these a-holes. These are children we are talking about. CHILDREN. Children who could DIE if your child touched them with peanut buttery fingers. Good god, where is your humanity?

Marion said...

I agree. Well said. I am forwarding this to the principal of my son's school. My son doesn't have any allergies per say, but we do our best to stay away from processed foods and sugars, but like you said I can't control it in the classroom.

Unknown said...

Hey people really should help kids like this

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