When we make accommodations, we teach others to be compassionate…
A friend of mine wrote this the other day as I was ranting on Facebook. A blogger had written a post complaining about schools being “peanut free.” She was concerned that by being a “peanut free” school, school administrators and officials were creating an environment that coddled our children and didn’t prepare them for the real world.
After all, in the real world, there are peanuts. And nuts. And eggs and soy.
And, apparently, insensitive, uninformed women who write blog posts shaming children and their nut allergies.
Here’s the deal.
I am not going to apologize for my child’s nut allergies.
I am not going to apologize because your child cannot eat peanut butter and jelly at school.
I am not going to apologize because you need to read labels before sending food into school with your child so my child doesn’t accidentally ingest what her body sees as poison.
I am not going to apologize because your “picky eater” kid can only eat peanut butter and jelly and (gasp!) now he cannot at school.
I am not going to apologize because you are too lazy to come up with different lunch ideas.
Yes, I understand that the “real” world will not make exceptions for my child and her nut allergy. But at 5, 6, 7 or 8? How is she supposed to be 100% responsible for making sure she doesn’t accidentally ingest nuts.
And what if some kid thinks it’s really funny to give her food containing nuts, and because she trusts that child, she eats it? What if there is legitimate cross contamination? What if her allergy was airborne?
For those of you who think having peanut-free schools and environments for our children is “going too far” or “not preparing them for the real world,” I ask you this:
- Should we stop requiring people to put fences around their in-ground pools? After all, kids need to learn to swim. And how is it my responsibility to teach them not to go near water when they cannot?
- Should we stop requiring people to stop while children are getting off buses? I mean, it’s not MY problem if a child doesn’t look both ways when he or she gets off the bus.
- And what about guns and knives? I mean, MY child knows how to use them and be safe… why can’t she bring one into school?
Every day, my child has to carry Epi-pens with her. Not because it’s fun, or cool, or a way to fit in with the crowd. It’s because she MUST. She has to carry them to stay safe. I worry about what she eats constantly. I worry about if she will eat something she thinks is safe, but is not.
I feel guilty that I did something wrong while I was pregnant to give her this allergy. I feel like a bad parent – like I gave her this giant burden she must live with.
I hope and pray every day she grows out of it.
I am sorry you don’t have to sit with your child for hours of scratch allergy tests at the doctor. I am sorry you don’t have to worry like we do. I am sorry your child doesn’t cry about her allergies to you asking “Why can’t I be normal?” I am sorry you don’t have to read “I want to get rid of my allergies” on your child’s wish list to Santa.
I am sorry for these things because maybe then you would understand that like your child, my child deserves to stay safe. And, if keeping kids like her safe at school means your child won’t be able to eat peanut butter for lunch, then I’m not sorry.