Wednesday, March 11, 2009

to egg or not to egg

I'm mildly irritated. Actually this thing that is irritating me isn't so much a new thing, but since I'm feeling nausea today and I was going thru some things and found dash-1's adorable St. Patty's day shirt, I'm irritated all over again. And now I'll share.

This year dash-1 started in the halls of academia. He goes to a nursery program tues/thurs for 2 1/2 hours in the morning. All in all he likes it. He does have a nemesis who he talks about often, but then again, we all need a nemesis, everyone needs their Dwight (from the office folks).

We specifically picked this school because it was peanut free. No peanut products are allowed in the school, said so in the handbook. It made me feel a little safer, I figured then I would only have to worry about the egg front and that if they had a peanut policy then the egg allergy wouldn't seem so much for them.

Yeah. Stupid assumption on my part. Apparently I'm the only parent who read the handbook and caught that whole "This school is a PEANUT FREE school" sentence.

Not only has he brought home peanut candy a couple times from a class party or some one's birthday in the class but now for St. Patricks day they are making Irish Soda Bread, with egg in it. So he'll be missing the day. I mean 14 three and four year olds, raw eggs, and my kid with anaphylaxis shock. Yeah, I don't think he'll be taking part in that one.

And I am irritated.

(By the way the problem with the peanut candy coming home is that you don't always know its there, I now always check his bookbag but the first couple times he would be sitting in the back seat digging thru a goody bag I didn't know existed. And with certain candies like Reese's PB cups, the peanut filling can leak out and get on other stuff and that is NOT a good thing)

The school, I thought, was aware of his severity of allergy. I took in paper after paper from his pediatrician, his allergist, an allergy action plan, his medicines, all of it. I thought anaphylaxis shock on every paper, the epi pens, and the whole should avoid any and all egg and peanut products spoke for itself.

Again, I think I assumed wrong.

I over heard one of the moms ask the teacher if her mom could come in on St. P's day and make Irish Soda bread with the kids. I asked the teachers, and this was WEEKS ago, and explained that if the recipe had egg in it, dash would not be able to be in the class that day, that we can not take the risk of a reaction. She didn't seem to get it.

In fact, I got the distinct impression that she thinks I'm making a huge deal out of this. She keeps saying, "we could keep him on the other side of the room". And shaking her head with that look in her eyes like I'm crazy.

Here's what I've tried to explain, it takes one kid to get one drop of yolk or white on his fingers and touch something that dash-1 will touch. Then if he rubs his face it could get really ugly, really quickly.

I don't understand why they couldn't ask this parent to do a different activity.

Paint a giant shamrock with glitter or something. Do something that all the kids can enjoy. I'm sorry if it seems like I get to dictate the fun because of my child, but I don't really think its fair that he's missing a day of school (and color day on top of that which is a BIG deal to a four year old, hence the cool new shirt I got him) because of an activity that some one's grandma wants to do.

In my mind the school should have said, I'm sorry we have a child in the class who is severely allergic to eggs and we can't have them in the class. It's hardly like I've been a pain in every one's ass this year. I bring in special cupcakes for dash, I bring in food he can eat for party's so that everyone else gets their normal food. Why couldn't they give on this?

Food allergies are so misunderstood. Its not that we think eating egg free stuff is fun, hardly. It's not that I think I should get to set the standard of the class. But I'm trying to make it so that my kid can take part in as much as possible. You know without worry about him dying and all.

By the way, honest opinions are welcome on this.

28 comments:

  1. I'm so, so sorry. As a fellow anaphalixis peanut/cashew/brazil/pistachio sufferer, I feel your Dash's pain! It is amazing how insensitive people who do not have food allergies (or any allergy with anaphalixis as a recation) can be!
    I'm extremely surprised that your school is not abiding by its "peanut free" motto, as that is a lawsuit waiting to happen (same with restaurants that serve desserts with nuts in them, but don't explicitly state that on the menu and I order it and swell up.. thanks Taos NM!!)
    I don't really have any solution, just more commiseration.. I even had a PA at a military hospital prescribe me NSAIDs after I TOLD HIM I HAD AN ANAPHALIXIS reaction to them.. he told me to "try them anyway" and if I had a reaction "to just stop taking them". Thanks asshat. I think I'd like to die today. Imagine my then-med-student husbands reaction to that!
    Tell little Dash it will get better though, soon enough he will be old enough to LOUDLY and ACTIVELY advocate for himself at school! :)

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  2. FACT: your teacher should have definitely redirected the offer to something that wasn't food related.

    FACT: you definitely are not out of line or trying to set the standard and it is a shame that you have to feel like you are getting the 'you are whack' look and that Dash 1 will be missing school because they are failing to provide him a safe environment.

    FACT: I love Dwight! :)

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  3. As a teacher, I would have changed plans right then! I mean it is not right for him to miss out on an educational experience! Have you thought about finding a recipe that does not have egg in it and give it to the teacher? It is worth a shot! I googled no egg irish bread recipes and found a couple so they are out there! If the teacher is unwilling, go to the head of the program! They might need to be reminded how serious this is! Keep us posted!

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  4. My parents and I were just talking about allergies and the general population the other day. There are some of us that have true allergies (me, Becca, Dash-1, my nephew) and will die if we come into contact with our allergens.

    Most people think they have "allergies" because they sneeze or something. A lot of people claim they are allergic to penicillin because one time, when they were taking it, they had to itch their nose. Or they have a "latex allergy" because one time they touched a condom and sneezed. But since they said it, the hospital/nurses/doctors must use a special latex-free tray and intsruments because who wants a law suit, right?

    My nephew is in Pre-K and I think the poor kid is allergic to everything under the sun. Holidays are always a joy but I have learned to make some of the family favorites just for him. Anyway, his school has been super understanding and has been vigilant in protecting him. However, several parents were pissed they couldn't send a PB&J to school anymore.

    Anyway, you are in NO WAY out of line. Allergies are balls. I am allergic to like every kind of antibiotics so I get to take the super weak kind which means I take them FOREVER.

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  5. Food allergies are so tough on the child and parent. And in the child care setting you really have to be sensetive to that. It's like being sensetive to religon, race, and many other things these dasy. Because it does leave some kids out and in my mind that just isn't fair.

    I worked day camp at the YMCA for many years and one summer I had a little girl with a severe allergy to corn products. So bad that she couldn't even smell it! Most parents were very aware of it and followed the rules on what they could bring in or send their children for lunch.

    And as someone who was a child care provider, I made sure we never did the whole food thing. It was more about arts & crafts. And even with that I was careful. As child care providers, there are a lot more things we have to be aware of these days and I don't think it's askig for much to consider the needs of your students! That's your job!

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  6. I never knew that food allergies could be so bad. I feel bad now for things that I've said about my boys not being able to bring in peanut butter sandwiches to school. I have never been around anyone close that has had severe allergies. We just get notes from the schools telling us what not to bring. And to an "outsider" it seems just like an inconvenience but after reading what you have to go through and what your son misses out on I feel bad. I would never have one kid excluded from something just so that others can have something they don’t really NEED.

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  7. I think that people who do not suffer from food allergies, or who don't have a child or close family member who does just doesn't get it. My husband still doesn't get it because he has yet to be around for anaphylactic shock requiring an ER trip. I have severe, deadly food allergies (shellfish, raspberries, melon, mushrooms, aged cheese), and I also have some food sensitivities (cilantro, sprouts, sulfites in wine/dried fruit). I think a lot of people think that people who claim to have deadly food allergies are just exaggerating, or can just not eat it and be fine. They don't get that sometimes just being in the same room can be lethal!

    That being said, being in an educational setting with high liability, you'd think that the school would abide by it's peanut free promise! Haven't peanut allergies gotten enough scary media attention in recent years??

    Hopefully as he continues to get older he will be able to stand up for himself in the classroom and will be able to understand why he can't participate, etc. No, I do NOT think you are overreacting. When it comes to the safety and welfare of your children, you have to stand up!

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  8. I'm one of those annoying people who has allergies to nothing and so I don't really understand how severe some allergies can be. Stories like the one you just told helps me understand even though I know it must frustrate you.

    I cannot imagine why a child care worker would willingly involve 4 year olds and sugary foods on a holiday that is bound to involve sugary foods to begin with. Let alone the whole allergy angle.

    I just read d.a.r.'s comment and she brought up a really good point. Perhaps pointing out to the school their liablity in saying they are no peanut and then allowing peanuts might help at least that aspect?

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  9. I think so too, that people don't understand exactly how serious it is, or how such a tiny amount can do such incredible damage. I'm sorry the school isn't getting this.

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  10. I just had an idea: Could you do allergy awareness day? Like come in and show the kids what Dash-1 is allergic to (well, not physically) and what happens if he is around those things? Presumably he has friends and his friends would want to help their friend by having a peanut and egg free classroom. You could even show them an EpiPen and how it helps.

    This would all be on a kids level (since they are receptive) but doing it front of teachers and administrators could really hammer the point home.

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  11. I'm a little pissed at his teacher after hearing this. Any teacher I know would have found a nice way to tell the mom that although she appreciates the gesture, she cannot risk having any eggs in the classroom. Yeah, it's a nice idea and something fun for the kids to do, but the teachers I know (myself included) would have only the best interest of ALL children in mind. She should have suggested an ALTERNATE activity for the mother to help with. I cna't believe she's not reconsidering after hearing that your son won't be able to attend school at all that day! Grrrr! The preschool teachers I work with go out of their way to make sure all children are included in everything- despite what accommodations need to be made.

    I know you probably don't want to step on any toes, but I would be NICELY voicing your concerns to the principal (or director or whomever) if the teacher seems to blow you off.

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  12. I have had food allergies all my life so I totally get this. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't. Not sure why it is so hard to understand or accomodate especially for a preschool teacher!

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  13. Ugh. Stupid school. Honestly, I feel like if they were talking about bringing in a bird or something, and that gives Dash-1 the sniffles, and you said NO WAY that's a little overreacting. But that's not what we are talking about here. We're talking about a severe food allergy with little kiddos who are notorious for bad hand-washing skills. Even if the teacher was hyper-vigilant (you can insert your snort of disbelief here), there'd still be too big of a risk that he would have some kind of accidental exposure. I'd tell you to complain to the principal or something but I'm sure you already have.

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  14. Wow, how insensitive is that teacher?? Aren't they trained in stuff like that? How do some people just not get it? So annoying. I'm so sorry you and Dash are having to deal with this.

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  15. That really gets me mad. I would def. say something to the school that if they are a peanut free school than they need to make sure parents know that and not bring in candies to hand out with peanuts in them! I'd make a point that it could end up in a potential lawsuit on their end some day.

    As for the egg deal-that teacher needs a whack on the head to get some sense in there. For Dash-1 to not be able to participate in the day because she couldn't tell a parent no- we can't do that activity is just beyond me. Have you tried talking to the director of the childcare? It doesn't send a good message to Dash that he can't come to school because they aren't willing to figure something else out to make since he is allergic to the eggs. They are leaving him out and that just isn't right.

    I'd def think you should look into what KD said about showing the kids and what happens and all.

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  16. Howdy,

    Found you from a comment on another blog. My little one has a peanut/tree nut and egg allergy. I can relate. It is so tough. He is not in pre-school yet, but the one my daughter goes too, has several allergic children, and so far they seem to have it under control. He will start next year.

    We blog at:
    www.elainecarter24.blogspot.com
    www.nutfreeliving.blogspot.com

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  17. I have a cousin who is highly allergic to shellfish and have personally seen what happens when people think he's just being over dramatic about it (he's a chef and they rubbed down his knife handles with juices).People need to be more aware and considerate of these things!

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  18. A peanut allergy is a very serious thing and should not be taken lightly. My child does not have serious allergies, but I would definitely make other plans if there was a child in his class that did have serious allergies.

    Maybe you can write a letter that will be sent home to the parents? That might help them understand because so many people are unaware of how serious it could be.

    And by the way, your child should not have to miss out of class activities just because of an allergy that is not his fault. There are too many other activities to do.

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  19. That's insane.

    Em was in a class with a boy who had a severe peanut allergy, and at the beginning of the year she asked to make it a point that we had nothing with peanuts so her son could be included. Was a very reasonable request and was honored. The fact that they are not following suit would concern me as well!

    The teacher should have changed the recipe, or had them making something that would not affect Dash 1 in any way. I agree with Heidi, talk to them again and go higher if need be.

    Junior had to have a special meeting about his egg allergy, forms, notes, and millions of other things. His picture is posted, he wears a tag showing him as having an egg allergy, and daycare gave him an egg. Crazy. Now he wears a three inch high label that says NO EGGS!!!! and his picture is plastered on every table, wall, anything within sight and they have a few more precautions. I thought that they were being vigilant, but it just took a split second. I don't blame you for being upset.

    Oh and as a teacher, she should have mentioned to the parents right off the bat that they appreciated the sentiments and they would love to have her participate in _________ or find a recipe that eliminated eggs and peanuts.

    Crazy I tell ya.

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  20. first of all you are not out of line. you are a mom. and you are always right!!

    seriously that teacher did not do her job. (as a teacher i know this)

    hoping it gets taken care of and dash can go to school that day.

    as for the bigger picture - he is very lucky to have you to advocate for him :)

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  21. I'm fortunate that I don't have kids with these types of allergies but a good friend of mine does. Her oldest has a severe milk allergy. It is such a challenge making sure he doesn't come into contact with anything with dairy in it. I can only imagine that it is a similar challenge with eggs.

    The parents (or maybe even the staff) may not be aware of how severe your son's allergies are or what the consequences can be for him and your family. Is there any way for you to educate them? Information sent home to parents or maybe a question and answer with you one day while the kids are in class?

    bottom line though is that you are never out of line protecting your child.

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  22. Think of all the people you are educating when you speak up about your son's food allergies. Just keep talking, keep informing, and hopefully it will begin to sink in.

    I took my son out of class when they were doing their gingerbread house activity near the holidays. They use pre-made gingerbread sheets, cover them with frosting (used to be peanut butter) and decorate with assorted candies- a food allergy nightmare! The school suggested he sit alone in the cafeteria and work on another project. I brought him home and we had a nice afternoon.

    That said, our school has come a long way with food allergies in the past few years. It will take all of us moms speaking up and making sure all kids are safe. Hang in there!

    -Joanne/Food Allergy Assistant
    www.foodallergyassistant.com

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  23. Ugh that is awful. Seriously that teacher needs to be aware of the ramifications of what may happen if he was to be there. I think you are doing the right thing keeping him away for the day, but your right it is not fair that he has to miss because of the teacher. Have you talked to the office people about this situation, this is something they should be aware of.

    I hope things get better!

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  24. You signed Dash up for this school, one of the reasons being that it is peanut free, right? I think you have a legitimate beef, and should contact the teachers. Not that you need to, but you could even try & find a different recipe that dash could do as an alternative?

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  25. I don't know what to say on this. I feel both sides since I am one of those evil Childless people :)
    On one side-it is not right for him to miss school and I am aware of the horrors of allergies. My brother suffers from them and I work in medical so I have heard.

    The other hand: If one child had a heart condition or severe asthma would you want his teacher to cancel all recess or play time as to not cause strain for this one particular child?
    It seems everywhere in life, majority rule and you know we NEVER get special treatment! We always get the shaft!

    I mean I get the whole Peanut thing. It's in the handbook it should be regulated. It sucks and I know you are having a difficult time with the school but it seems that people are generally insensitive to ANY condition/difference from the societal norm. If you are not the norm you just get to deal with it. I'm sure this will be a revolving door issue my love :( I'm always here if you need to vent :) You know I love a good bitch fest!

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  26. We're lucky we don't have the allergy issue. I 1000% agree the teacher should have either immediately suggested another project or found an alternate to this one. The teacher is there to facilitate for all the kids, right?

    None of the kids in O's class have allergies - except to penicillin - but I'm the ONLY parent who at EVERY function, event, snack, whatever who asks if there are kids with allergies, even if no new kids have come into the program. We have a friend whose child has severe food allergies and we hosted them for a cookout last year. I totally worked my menu and our home setting to suit what their needs are. That's where your eggless blueberry muffins came in.

    To me, as a parent and a friend, it is common courtesy. I hate Dash can't make it that day.

    Punk teacher.

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  27. Seriously? He can stand on the other side of the room? You have a right to be irritated with the teachers. I don't understand why they aren't taking this seriously. Hello, he could die! I'm so upset! Food allergies really do scare me. I think kd's idea is awesome....you should totally do an allergy awareness day!

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  28. I have food allergies; not common ones, but to onions/peppers/broccoli (most cruciferous veggies, actually). People think I am making it up. I don't go into anaphalaxis, but have severe stomach reactions (like folks who are lactose intolerant, only worse...like a stomach bug). So I'm careful about what I eat.

    My son is allergic to tomatoes, strawberries and bees (but we don't feed him bees, lol - it's a joke we often use) He gets hives and rashes...contact dermatitis wherever the food touches him.

    And like you, people don't get it. They think that if they remove onions or peppers from my salad before serving it (think pre-prepped salads at restaurants) I'll be fine...uh NO. The OILS are autrocious for me. Same with my son. If they take the berries off the plate, the juices are still there.

    Why don't people GET it? By doing this, you are setting a child up to possibly be killed...seriously! Some kids' allergies are mild enough that they can't have the nut, but won't have the reaction if there are nuts in the room...others will blow up like balloons if you so much as whisper across the room after eating a pb sandwich.

    I get it, and you're perfectly within your rights to be angry. I would go a step further and say that because the school (or teacher and parents) refuse to follow the peanut rule and offer SAFE activities for your son, that you should be entitled to a refund for that particular day. While the money's not a big deal, the principle of the matter is what counts. They need to be taken to task. You go, Mrs!

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