Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Positive Peanut Allergy Parent

This summer was filled with many fun, friend-filled things. One thing we really enjoyed was playdates with a group of kids from Tyler's preschool class. Many of these little guys and gals would be attending his school and could possibly be in his class.

One playdate was going very well. It was communicated by the organizer of the events that everyone was to bring a peanut free lunch. Tyler was the only child with a peanut allergy but you can only imagine how touched he and I both were by this gesture.

However, on this particular playdate, I overheard two moms talking. I wasn't eavesdropping but I was sitting on the bench next to them. The conversation caught me a little off guard.

"It's so annoying having a child with a peanut allergy in your child's class," said parent # 1.

"Yes, I agree!" said parent #2.

At that point I stopped listening and moved to another bench. Was I mad? Not really. I was more annoyed they respected me so little to say it so close to me.

Yet, I knew I had a choice. I knew one parent had a child Tyler's age. They could be (and are now) in the same class. I knew my reaction that day could affect Tyler for years to come. And I knew since they did not have a child a child with a peanut allergy they would never fully comprehend all that's involved.

Confronting those ladies would do no good. I was not going to convince them it wasn't annoying because I'm sure it is. Providing nut free snacks for the class takes a little creativity.

Maybe it's the people pleaser I am but I am determined for people to meet me and not have a negative view of peanut allergy parents. I feel like being positive and non-confrontational not only helps Tyler but other children these parents may meet in the years to come. It only takes one bad encounter to color these people's view of ALL food allergy parents.

I know we all feel like we need to change the world's view of food allergies. Some people we truly can make an impact with. But we also need to be willing to accept some people will never "get it," no matter how much we tell them.

Obviously, the first priority is to keep our kids safe. But another priority we often neglect is to be positive about food allergies. It helps our children and it helps all of those we come in contact with be less anxious around us.

So even if you want to bash someone's head in when they don't "get it," stop and think about how this will affect your child and other food allergic children. And kill 'em with kindness!


Nicole said...

I've overheard the same kind of conversation at library story time snack time. My PA son wasn't with me, only my non-allergic daughter. They were having peanut butter as a snack. Later on, a different mom was wiping down her own daughter's hands before she chose a book to bring home telling her that she wanted to make sure no p.b. got on the books because some people are allergic. I did speak with her and thanked her.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a tough one! Your momma bear instincts totally want to come out. I had never really pictured conversations like that but I am sure they happen more often than I would think. I am sure it is annoying... I think it is annoying too as a mother of a PA child.

Charmaine (CharmWarm) said...

I've never heard a conversation like that, WOW! I don't expect most people to understand and sadly, I don't trust most people to "get it", so I always pack my PA daughter her own snack and never rely on what is being served.

Nellie said...

My son has been in kindergarten for about 4 weeks now. It amazes me that the other classmates don't mind. They will eat anything. Some have even told their parents that they can't bring a certain snack because of the peanuts within them. It's the parents that seem to have the notion that their child will melt away if they haven't had peanuts in 3 hours. It's so difficult to stay calm and attempt to inform those who just don't care.

Anonymous said...

You're a better person than I am, because I would have lit right into them. They think it's "annoying" having to make a snack a couple times a year without nuts? Thankfully for them they don't have to deal with it every snack, every meal, every day of that child's life. Maybe they should put themselves in your shoes for a few minutes and think before they open their traps.

I find it "annoying" that some people are so self centered. I deal with it in my own family. Be nice all you want, but ask yourself this. Do you really care what these people think about you? They obviously have no respect for you or your child already...

Anonymous said...

Wow, you definitely handled that well. It's really can be hard to hold back because when it's your child it's very personal. I like your take on this kill em with kindness. Obviously if they are talking like this, the only way the will "get it" is if it haappens to them.


HaHa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HaHa said...

Thank you for your post. My 18-month-old was just diagnosed with peanut, tree nuts & egg allergies about a month ago and I've been busy emptying out my cupboards, learning how to shop and learning how to nicely share all of this new "life saving" information with family and friends. I just wanted to compliment you on handling that situation so nicely and reminding me that I need to portray allergies in a positive light. Last year one of my older children started kindergarten, and in his class there was a child with severe peanut allergies. I would have never said anything like these mothers did around you, but in my mind I often thought, "this is so hard." Having to plan lunches without peanuts and find snacks and treats to send in for class parties that had to be completely free of peanuts. In my mind I complained, but now I feel I've been humbled - here I am learning, for the safety of my son, that no one asks for these allergies, yet we need to keep them safe. So, having been on both sides of the fence I hope I can remember your post and go about this with a positive attitude. Thanks!

Kammy said...

I always try to keep things positive when it comes to my son's peanut allergy. He just moved to a new school in a new state and I was nervous about how the other parents and kids would react to it. So far, so good! The kids that are his friends are telling their moms that they don't want PB&J in their lunches so they can sit next to him, it's really cute :) And I've had a lot of parents come up to me and ask me questions about his allergy. It's nice!
I can tell you that I just read another blog post about packing healthy lunches for school and one person commented on how annoyed they were with their child's school's nut-free policy. She basically said she didn't believe that there were actually kids at the school with a nut allergy. This made me so mad, I just had to comment! UGH! What is wrong with people?