2007-12-08

A World Full of Peanuts

When I first started this blog, I didn't feel like sharing our experiences with The Kid's food allergies. There are some very good mommy bloggers out there writing about the extreme parenting required to keep a child alive in a poisonous world. I just wanted to organize my recipes for myself and make them available to others, since they had required so much time and creativity to develop.
Yesterday at school we had our first close call, and I am still shaken. Until now, I've been so rational about my child's food allergies. He has a host of other medical problems (which I did not want to expose to the world to protect his privacy), so I've just treated it as one of many menu items.
The Kid attends a varying exceptionalities Pre-K program at a public school. His teacher is absolutely amazing. She has managed his food allergies virtually without incident for the last year and a half. Usually I take The Kid to his classroom in the morning, then leave. Yesterday I was still there, speaking with his teacher. The children had all left the classroom with their aide to go to P.E. As they walked through the school lobby, they went by a table that was littered with peanuts and peanut shells, and The Kid automatically put out his hand to use the table to balance himself and ran his hand across the table.
Fortunately, the aide saw the peanuts on the table, and pulled my child away, probably before he came into physical contact with the peanuts. My friend Erica, whose son is also in The Kid's class and has a mild peanut allergy, was walking with the group and ran him back to the classroom and brought him to the bathroom to wash his hands, while explaining what happened.
He didn't have a reaction, but it would be fair to say that I did. The only thing that had kept my child safe was the quick actions of two adults and sheer dumb luck. After the peanut debris had all been cleared away, I spoke to the school principal, who was fortunately very responsive. When I asked what steps were going to be taken to prevent this from happening again, he suggested banning peanuts in the hallways and common areas. I felt that that was impractical, since not only did that require elementary students to read food labels, but it only banned peanuts, and that is far from the only food allergy that The Kid and other students have. The principal then agreed to ban all food and drink from the common areas and playground.
At the time, my topmost thought was that this was probably insufficient to keep my child safe, but in retrospect, it is a fairly large step for a school to take. I've also realized that in my zeal to keep The Kid away from allergens, I've failed to teach him how to identify some of them. He can recite his food allergies, and sometimes remembers that he cannot accept food from anyone other than certain adults, but most likely he cannot recognize a peanut on sight. I think I'll check the allergy sites for flashcards of foods he can and cannot eat. If I find a link, I'll post it.

Note: Thanks to PublicDomainPictures.net for the peanut photo.
Update:
Here are some homemade flashcards, which we've put to good use. I ask what the food is, then whether or not it's safe to eat. If it's not, we sing a little song about it, which The Kid loves. (I've never had an appreciative audience for my singing or artwork before. Motherhood leads to a lack of embarrassment about many things.)
Right clicking on each picture will allow you to save the image, which can be printed on an 8 1/2" x 11" page and cut up into individual cards.



2 comments:

Leslea from allergyware.com said...

Sounds like both you and the school handled it well, but I know what you mean about how frightening something like that is. I'm so glad others around The Kid are watching out for him.

Allergy Mom said...

Hi Leslea, thanks for the visit! We've been extremely fortunate with our entire preK experience. I'm already starting to worry about next year, when he leaves his bubble and enters the cafeteria with the big kids. We already have an IEP that requires a staff member assigned to supervise him, but still...