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The Third Side of the Triangle

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.

That’s okay.

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. 

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Thursday 27th of February 2014

Thank you! I've been thinking this same thing since our school went nut free. My kid won't eat much, but one of the things he will eat is peanut butter. His lunches are pitiful. I try to keep them healthy, but I can only throw away so much uneaten food before you give in and send stuff he'll actually eat.

All this because ONE kid in the school has a peanut allergy. I don't know what the answer is, but I can't imagine that this is it.


Friday 21st of February 2014

Michelle made SUCH a good point above. This "allergy" nonsense is ridiculous. I totally understand a family choosing not to eat something...because they CHOOSE not to. But to pass it off as an allergy {which it seems that EVERYONE has} downplays the seriousness of those who DO actually have an issue. Choosing not to eat gluten, being gluten intolerant, and having a gluten allergy are three different things.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader

Friday 21st of February 2014



Friday 21st of February 2014

I am also this third side that you speak of and we, too, NEED peanut butter in the daily diet. We contend with a muscle disease that requires protein and much of it comes from peanut butter as the sensory part of the disease won't permit meat to enter my child's mouth. Every single meal is a battle that usually ends with ME in tears. I don't have a problem with the allergy kids. I DO have a problem with the "allergy" kids. This invented allergy stuff just irks me in the worst way. And there are very few cases of people with these deadly reactions or airborne reactions to food. Are they out there? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!! But does every person who gets a tummy ache from PB related products need to have said products removed from society? No. It has just turned another mundane thing into a mommy-war that is trendy at the moment. Ten years from now we will be fighting about something else. Makes me feel bad for ALL kids that this even needs to be an issue...

And seriously, what IS IT with the celebrating all of the everything all the time with all these parties???? Wow. When did school have to be such a production???


Friday 21st of February 2014

We're the food allergy family. And I feel like a jerk when the teachers send a reminder note home. However, I have been met with the kindest responses from parents who truly want to keep James safe. I wish they'd lump all food allergy kids in one room in order to make it easier, but they usually don't. We're one of two allergies. And I absolutely cannot believe you've had people not believe you about Joshua. My sister's job as an occupational therapy assistant is to help kids just like Joshua. Keep it up, Mama! If we could all learn to work together life would be so much easier. And you are so right about the parties. Gracious, we celebrate everything now!

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