Friday, March 25, 2011

Keep your nuts where they belong

As a mom, I do everything I can to protect my children from danger. Helmets, seat belts, and of course, hovering over them when they're out in public. If either one of my children are out of my sight for even one nanosecond, I panic. I tend to be on the extreme side of things, but that's not the point.

I do the best I can to make sure my children stay healthy, too. Of course, certain things are out of my control. When my oldest son was three years old he got sick with a severe case of pneumonia and was hospitalised for over two weeks. He had surgery in his lung to drain fluid, and a chest tube, among other things, like IV's and countless numbers of x-rays. It was a nightmare, and something I never imagined my child would have to go through.

As a parent, I'm aware. And I'm alert. I know the dangers that lurk among our children. When you become a mom, you are instantly exposed to a whole new world of love and worry for your own child, and for other children as well. Your level of empathy grows. You feel for other parents in bad situations. You will cry when you hear of another child getting sick, or injured.

Wouldn't you take any steps possible if you could prevent your child - or another child - from being put in life-threatening danger?

When I was a child, I would eat a peanut butter sandwich almost every day at school. For a parent, a peanut butter sandwich is quick to make, and nutritious. What's not to love about that?

In recent years, however, peanut allergies have increased exponentially in children. And peanut products—including peanut butter—are banned from (most) schools. Although my children do not suffer from allergies, when it comes to preparing snacks for my children that will be brought to school, I make sure they're safe and peanut-free. I make sure that the packages I buy are clearly marked with the peanut-free sign. From granola bars to crackers, there is a wide selection of healthy snacks available that are peanut-free.

If my son has a play date at home with a friend who suffers from a peanut allergy, I make sure my house is safe. I ask the mom questions like "Is it okay if we have Nutella in our home?"

If a child's life is at stake, and we can prevent something bad from happening, that's what we have to do. Period.

Today I read about a young child in Florida who suffers from a life-threatening peanut allergy. Since her allergy is so severe, her classmates have been asked to wash their hands (and face) before entering the classroom, and after lunch. I see nothing wrong with this.

Some parents, however, are protesting—insisting that their children also have rights. These parents are arguing that the hand washing is taking away from their children's learning time. One mother said the hand washing was "taking a good 30 minutes out of the day."

(Insert eye-roll here.)

The parents who are protesting these measures—which, in my opinion, aren't even remotely extreme—are being very unreasonable.

One father said: "If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life." How is hand-washing changing a child's life? I wish all schools would implement a twice-a-day hand-washing rule!

Some parents are even requesting this girl be home-schooled. I feel terrible for the parents of this child, and I feel even worse for the little girl who is caught in the middle of all this ridiculousness.

What example are these parents showing their children, anyway?

Doesn't it just make sense to do what we can to keep our children safe? Even if it means our children have to wash their hands twice a day?

24 comments:

Faiqa said...

Wow. "You're interfering with my kid's right to NOT WASH THEIR HANDS?" Seriously, people, get a grip. The problem is people lack empathy. They don't seem to stop and think about how they (or their child) would feel if others reacted to them that way. So annoying.

Jill said...

GET REAL PEOPLE!! Anyone who's complaining about hand washing or peanut allergies needs to chill the *bleep* out!

My daughter's 2nd grade class has SEVERAL insane allergies ... so much so that the parent's of 2 students had to send personal letters home to each child's family on the first day of school.

No big deal. I appreciated the heads up. A minor inconvenience to ensure that I don't send in a food for my daughter that could potentially make another child sick ...

When I sometimes forget (which happens) or when another parent forgets (which happens), they just make sure to isolate the kids who've brought foods that could harm another student to one table .... and then watch them wash their hands after. No big deal. No note home. And all it takes is one forgetful incident to remind me to be extra careful.

A Mommy in the City said...

It is our maternal instincts that want us to protect our children from everything. I see no problem with washing their hands twice a day. I think it should be encouraged at every school. When I was teaching I had kids come back from lunch asking to wash their hands and it never took away from their learning time. The other parents need to get over it or get their child out of the class if they have that much of a problem.

Kate said...

I agree that the parents who are complaining are being silly. I'm sure they don't comprehend how ridiculous their sentiments seem to the rest of us. I have more of a problem when teachers (like my sister) are asked to provide special attention to children with serious disabilities AT THE SAME TIME they try to teach the other students. I think those situations are unfair to the teacher, the special needs student, and everyone else involved.

But having the kids wash their hands in order to make it possible for a student with allergies to attend a normal classroom? NOT too much to ask. My daughter's kindergarten classroom does this as well, and I have no problems with it. In fact, I think it probably keeps all of the kids healthier!

Mama Jules said...

Yes, those parents are being crazy. They may not want to change, but I bet if the tables were turned, they would want others to change their ways for them.

I worked in a daycare with a child who had an extreme, live threatening allergy to peanuts (and other things). We changed how we did things to accommodate him and I see that as just something you do to keep others safe, especially children.

Sarah Tuttle-Singer. Yes, That's My Real Name. (Hi Dad.) said...

It takes a village to raise a child.

And sometimes, it takes that same village to keep that child alive.

I wish people wouldn't be so myopic - we are ALL in this together.

And any parent who would refuse to insist their child wash their hands when another childs life is at stake deserves to be cut.

KelliDaisy said...

We have no allergies in my house (thankfully) but I take them very seriously. When I was a teenager my parents best friends lost their daughter to a peanut allergy. She was 25. I will never forget how devasted my parents were for their friends.

My children are not allowed to eat peanut butter or peanut products before they go to school out of respect for those in their class with an allergy that could take their life. There are far too many alternatives these days to nut products to even complain about this anymore. Honestly - there are people's lives at stake, children's lives at stake, and some are complaining that this is an 'inconvenience' for them. Enough already.

Scary Mommy said...

For real??? People are causing a stink over hand washing?!? Wow. Just, wow.

RJ said...

Both of my sons have peanut/ treenut allergies. We carry an epipen everywhere. The thought that tasting something that was so much a part of my growing up could kill them is terrifying. It's rare to have a child be anaphylactic with airborne food allergies ( scent) but I think this may be the case with that little girl.

Other than the fact she has a deadly food allergy she us a child who wants to play and interact and belong just like everyone else. That other parents object to this is beyond me. If they stopped for a moment a thought about what it would mean to them if their child had this - and I mean really thought about it - the would realize what ignorance they are sharing with their community and heaven help us, their kids.

My boys are little and as kindergarten approaches I am concerned. My son knows he can't eat or touch certain things but he's a child and cannot be responsible for that. Even with rules slip-ups happen. Sabrinas law cane into effect because a young girl died from eating cafeteria fries contaminated with dairy.

For those who think like the other parents in this girl's classroom - they'd do well to understand that we ALL play a part in keeping kids safe from nothing that could harm them. And washing hands, bringing in a dog to search for contaminants etc. is NOT too much to ask.

It's a scary thing to live with this and as this little girl grows up she'll be better able to protect herself but in the meantime drop the ignorance, work together to keep her ( and others) safe and teach your kids about this. It's just becoming all too common and happening in families with no history of these things. Trust me - the trip to the hospital is scary and we should all be aware of how to help avoid it.

Kelly said...

I see it from both sides of the coin. My child has Aspergers and will only eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. NOTHING else. If you don't have a child with Aspergers or Autism, you can't possibly understand what's it like. I have tried EVERYTHING possible to get him to eat something else. It's not happening. He is allowed to have his sandwich at school, but if he wasn't..he would literally eat nothing.

Also, it DOES take 30 minutes (or more) to get a classroom of little kids to wash their hands. Honestly. My child's classroom does the twice a day handwashing (before lunch and after recess). I've been in the room when the class does it. It can take FOREVER for 18 little kids to line up, wash their hands for the proper amount of time, dry them and move on. Honest to God.

However, I completely agree that the child's room be peanut free (and if a parent has concerns like me....then what does my child eat?...then maybe they should be in another classroom). The children should also have to wash their hands (um, even if there is no allergy issue). Unfortunately, things like this in public and private schools do take time (like lining up for lunch, etc). But it is what it is. If YOU don't like it, homeschool your child or come up with a better way for the school to efficiently and safely get these jobs done. They are a necessity.

Aspen Real Life said...

This post reminded me of a post from one of my favorite blogs, http://blog.todayspath.com/2011/02/are-you-nuts.html

"Peanuts, because they grow underground unlike tree nuts, can contain more mold than tree-grown nuts. A certain mold called aflatoxin is deadly in large amounts."

Very interesting!

silverneon2000 said...

When my oldest son was younger they were still allowed to eat peanut butter and that was the only thing my son would eat. Than they changed it and we were thinking oh great what is he going to eat. It was something we had to learn to ge used to.
As no one in our household has peanut allergies. Thank goodness.
Though you don't realize how many snacks actually have peanuts in them or made in a facility with peanuts.
But we all need to look out for eachother.

KKL Bracelets said...

That school isn't interfering with their rights... they are also teaching a life skill; teaching them a cleaner, healthier lifestyle resulting from frequent hand washings.

anymommy said...

I agree with you that washing hands is not that big a deal and that we should all approach the needs of kids with empathy. My Kindergartners are in a class with a little boy with severe nut and egg allergies and we respect the food rules carefully for their classroom, of course.

But, I will push just a bit by wondering if we know the whole story. I am the vice chair of a preschool and sometimes parents' approach to these situations can be extremely aggressive and angry. I know they are scared. I do not personally know how it feels to have to carry an epi pin and know you might have to use it to save your child's life. I do know that it is really really hard to stay calm and professional and rational when someone is yelling at you that if you don't "guarantee" that their extremely sensitive child won't have a reaction at your school you are an evil hosebeast from hell, it's offputting, to say the least.

Rationality has to come from both sides. I am in no one saying that the parents of this little girl crossed that line, but we don't know all the interactions that led to this news story.

Nenette AM said...

Ridiculous. I can't believe those parents are putting their children's lack of hygiene at a much higher priority than a child's life.
As a mom of a child with a mild peanut allergy and a wife of a man with a potentially severe fish/seafood allergy, I respect other people's right to LIFE, and hope others respect my family's right too.

My kids know to wash their hands before and after every meal. It's just a fact of daily living. It's just we do.

Those parents should just get their kids used to being clean so they won't complain about washing their hands at school so much!

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

For one thing, if all children were told to wash their hands at school they'd get sick a lot less. It would be awesome!

But if a child's life is at stake, well come one. WTH is wrong with these other parents?

I worked with someone who had severe life threatening allergies to many things (including nuts and seeds). And everyone who came into that area was required to wash their hands and remove jackets, etc. And we did it. You know why? Because she could DIE otherwise. The solution was obvious to the rest of us. How sickening that it's not to all of those idiots.

Lady Mama said...

I think, for the sake of saving a child's life, asking other people's kids to wash their hands and faces is not an unreasonable request. I'm with you - I'll take whatever steps I need to, to make sure that my kids and other people's kids are safe. And usually the steps are simple anyway, like not taking foods with peanuts in to school, or getting your kids to wash their hands.

Like Sarah said above, it would be great if people behaved more like a community and less like individuals only looking out for themselves.

Stimey said...

I agree with you so completely. Even if it really DID take 30 minutes out of the day for hand washing, who cares? The parents who are protesting and who are having their kids protest? It is appalling. God forbid any of their kids need something from the village someday.

Thirty minutes to keep a child safe and alive? Sounds okay to me.

Brittany {Mommy Words} said...

These people need to turn the tables and wonder what they would think if their child had a fatal allergy to peanuts. Sheesh. And yes, 30 minutes??? My eyes are in the back of my head now.

Avitable said...

I think that disrupting an entire school for one person is over-the-top. I also think that the parents who protested were ridiculous.

Issas Crazy World said...

I love this post. Love it. My son has a mild peanut allergy that he'll probably outgrow...but it brought a whole new awareness to me.

Thank you for this post.

Heidi said...

I found you via Kate's blog on her Monday links.

I just wanted to say I completely agree with you. My son has a tree nut allergy, so his teacher has been vigilant and really great about it. We're lucky. I feel really bad for this girl. So, it's inconvenient. I get that. But, it's over a child's safety, so I could get over the 'inconvenience'.

lessonsinlifeandlight said...

Ah yes. Let's teach our children to be selfish and compassionless. Sounds like a great idea to me.

That little girl just might be better off being homeschooled with people who actually care about her and, you know, have clean hands.

MixtressSamiJoe said...

Washing hands.period is better. Stop the spread of many things...not just nut-wise.

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