The thing that upsets me the most is people's ignorance of the actual issue. Actually it's not their ignorance, because it's just not part of everyday conversation. It's the lack of caring when they find out that certain foods can do serious harm or even kill a child. What's infuriating is that some people feel their right to eat peanuts and tree nuts trumps someones life. That is what scares me. It is my understanding that peanut and tree nut allergies are more likely to cause ananaphylaxis than other foods (not to say other foods don't or can't). It's not like you are outlawing nuts forever, just for a few hours. When you leave you can eat all the nuts you want.
Another one that bothers me is when someone says my child only eats peanut butter. I get so mad! Seriously only peanut butter? Unless your child eats peanut butter for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks, than you are just being dramatic. And they say parents of kids with food allergies exaggerate. Ask any parent of food allergic children, and they can tell you a whole host of foods you can send your kid to school with. I think it's about the ease of PB&J. Trust me I get it. I wish that was an option when I'm running late and need to pack his food. We have to pack his food everywhere we go.
With that said, here is my take on peanut free schools. I think it's unrealistic. I may be the minority and you may be surprised considering my vent just now, but as of today I don't think it's necessary or doable at every level. As far as the older grades (middle school and high school), a child should be able to be his or her own advocate. It's the younger grades I worry about. I do think that the school and parents need to be sensitive to it. A school is a place where all the kids should be safe. They must be able to provide that as well as an education.
A peanut and tree nut free school is my dream but is it realistic? I honestly don't think it is. Do I have a solution to make it so? Not really, but I have ideas to make it safer. I think the lower grades especially kindergarten should have peanut free classrooms and restrictions on group snacks if there are kids who are allergic. Teachers and subsitues teachers should be educated on food allergies, how to read food lables, and how to spot if a child is introuble. I do think schools should not sell the offending food. I do think they need to work with the family's of the allergic kids to find the best possible solution.
I know many schools have peanut free tables, and in theory it's a great idea. However, I hate the thought of my son sitting at a peanut free table all by himself. I actually cry every time I think of that. Yes I want my son to be an individual. However to be singled out as different so blatantly, bothers me. Every kid is different and should be, but I want him to make his mark and stand out for what he does, not by what he can't do.
By school age I hope and pray that my son knows the rules of what he can and can't eat. Again I would love it if my son's school was peanut and tree nut free, but lets be practicle. The risk of cross contamination is going to be there whether there is PB&J or not. It may be a peanut free school, but are they going to check every kids lunch box everyday and read the ingredients on every snack? That's just impossible.
I know not all parents of food allergic children will agree here, so I apologize if this offends. I just don't think it's realistic to be a truly peanut and tree nut free school. There will always be parents who don't care and will send them to school with banned food. There will be parents who forget. There will parents who will try but just don't understand the risk of cross contamination. Plus kids will be kids. In the end I would rather my child be aware that the peanuts and tree nuts are out there, rather than have a false sense of security that he's safe because a school has a no nuts policy.
Cormac is not in school yet so I may change my mind on this. Who knows, maybe our school will have a great peanut/tree nut policy by the time he's ready to start. Or maybe someone with more experience will shed some light on this for me. I just don't think it's a s simple as a nut free policy when it comes to schools. Now if we are talking about a ban on air planes that's another story. There's no compromise there. No nuts ever in my opinion.