It’s my morning habit to scroll through Facebook to see what’s happened in the world while I was sleeping. What’s hot and where.
This morning there was a post in my newsfeed from Huffington Post about food allergies. The author, apparently, believes that her kids’ right to have a class party trumps the rights of other kids to eat food that won’t hurt them.
Immediately, as is what happens with the Internet, rebuttal posts popped up from parents of kids with food allergies, particularly those parents whose childrens’ allergies are life-threatening. Those parents whose children might actually die from allergen exposure.
And I sat over here going “there’s a third side to this food allergy triangle…”
There is. I’m living it with Joshua.
About a year ago now, actually a year ago this week, Joshua started occupational therapy for feeding issues. His “picky eating” was more than just an ornery child who didn’t want to eat what was in front of him.
It’s been a long year with lots and lots of progress in some areas and much, much slower progress in others, specifically his willingness and ability to eat new things without choking on them.
I haven’t written much about it because, well, a lot of people don’t believe me.
They don’t believe that what we’re dealing with is a thing. They think I’m just a lazy parent who can’t tough love it out with her kid enough. They think I should just feed him what I want him to have and if he starves, he starves. He won’t starve forever.
Why am I talking about this?
Because one of the few foods that Joshua will eat is peanut butter–a specific kind of peanut butter–and there’s a child in his class with a peanut allergy.
Also because contrary to what some may think, I’m not an asshole. But I do see a side to this discussion that’s often left out and I know there are other parents out there like me in the middle of this and we deserve a seat at this table, too.
All year, I’ve sent Joshua’s lunch to school with him.
Do you know what’s been in that lunch? Yogurt, a stick of cheese, an apple sauce, some crackers. Everything except a sandwich. Snacks, basically.
I’ve spent the year thinking about the food allergies of other kids and where my responsibility to my son intersects with their ability not to die when they go to school. Maybe that sounds like a loaded statement, but it’s a pretty accurate one in a lot of cases.
I am terrified just about every time I step out of the house that my child will have a trace of peanut butter on his hand and touch a shopping cart and kill someone. But when your kid’s main source of protein is peanut butter, what are you supposed to do?
That’s my conundrum in all of this. And yet? I don’t get to be an asshole and dictate that my kid is the special snowflake your kid be damned.
Obviously, I want the best for my own son and that will occasionally mean that what I do for him isn’t in the best interest of others. But not when it comes to something like this.
I tried sending in grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadilla wedges. They came home untouched because they were cold by lunch time. I can’t blame my kid for not wanting to eat cold food.
At the beginning of the school year, we knew that the choice for him for lunch, if he had to have a peanut butter sandwich, would be sitting alone in the office with a teacher. Or making the child in his class with a peanut allergy sit alone.
Joshua came home talking about sitting by himself at lunch and I almost cried thinking about that and thinking about the other kid sitting by himself too. That didn’t seem fair to either of them. Because the truth is that it isn’t fair to either of them.
And don’t give me any of that crap about how life isn’t fair and they need to suck it up and deal. Do you want someone saying that to or about your kid because they don’t think that whatever’s happening is a real thing?
THEY ARE FOUR. Neither of them can help their allergies and issues.
You know who can? The adults in this equation.
Stop being assholes to each other. Seriously.
We’re all in this and figuring it out as we go along. It doesn’t matter if “that’s how it’s always been done” or “well back in my day.” I’m figuring out what works for my kid and you’re figuring out what works for yours, and you know what? Sometimes those things aren’t the same.
Your kids don’t NEED a class party. They need an education.
Stop stressing about what your kids “can’t have” and start focusing on what they do have: You.