A Letter to the Parent of a Child with Severe Food Allergies

Dear Me-Not-Me,

I am sorry your son is allergic to milk and eggs. And I’m more sorry he’s deathly allergic to peanuts.

I will try to provide a common classroom snack for the kids that your son can eat all or the majority of, without stressing out too much about those decisions, since I know you provide a safe back-up snack for your son.

I will not risk his life by sending peanuts into the classroom. And I will try to keep the increasing likelihood of interaction with highly peanut-allergic children in mind when I give my own children peanut products. I will try to be mindful of the fact that inhaling the dust or coming into skin contact with peanut products can cause as severe a reaction as eating a peanut. I will consider my children’s peanut consumption a privilege, an happy accident, (which comes with an obligation to respect those with allergies), rather than a natural right to be be guarded ferociously, and at your son’s expense.

I will expect you to be better than I am at this, because he’s your son, and you’ve had more practice and have more invested.

I will not insist that you be better than I am at this, because we are all human, and if there is a time when you slip I hope that I don’t.

I will try. I will not always succeed. I will be better at this than I would have been ten years ago, than any of us would have been twenty years ago. My failures will come from forgetfulness, not willfulness or ignorance. My successes will come from respect.

Sincerely,

You-Not-You

22 thoughts on “A Letter to the Parent of a Child with Severe Food Allergies”

  1. I'm sympathetic in the abstract to allergies. It must be a constant source of worry for parents. However, to the mom in my son's kindergarten class who wanted any product with egg or dairy in it banned from the classroom… you need to find another solution. At some point, kids will only be able to bring raw vegetables to school.

    1. I don't know…..ask any five year old and they will say those raw vegetables are pretty dangerous too!

      1. Very true! Honestly, the nut thing is easy to comply with because it's been so ingrained in the daycare/school system for the past 5 – 10 years. It's the constantly growing list that's a bit distressing for parents I think — both those who have to deal with the allergies and those who are asked to comply with them.

      2. Very true! Honestly, the nut thing is easy to comply with because it’s been so ingrained in the daycare/school system for the past 5 – 10 years. It’s the constantly growing list that’s a bit distressing for parents I think — both those who have to deal with the allergies and those who are asked to comply with them.

    2. I don't know…..ask any five year old and they will say those raw vegetables are pretty dangerous too!

  2. I’m sympathetic in the abstract to allergies. It must be a constant source of worry for parents. However, to the mom in my son’s kindergarten class who wanted any product with egg or dairy in it banned from the classroom… you need to find another solution. At some point, kids will only be able to bring raw vegetables to school.

  3. I totally agree with the school banning peanut products in those classrooms where a peanut-allergic child is. However, we had a parent in one of our schools who wanted anything with gluten in it to be banned. Gluten is not a product that can be dangerous through touch, only through ingestion. As with many other things, the pendulum is swinging too far one way.

  4. I totally agree with the school banning peanut products in those classrooms where a peanut-allergic child is. However, we had a parent in one of our schools who wanted anything with gluten in it to be banned. Gluten is not a product that can be dangerous through touch, only through ingestion. As with many other things, the pendulum is swinging too far one way.

  5. This is tough. My stepdaughter is mildly allergic to peanuts, and my son is fatally so. We carry around epipens, and Benadryl all the time, have to question the wait-staff at restaurants, and brief everyone that we leave the kids with. Very much in step with the point that it's the parent's responsibility to take all the precautions. It's good that most kids have a heightened sensitivity in determining when peanuts are present. That's saved us a few times.

    We are pretty understanding about innocent mistakes being made. My parents have done this–just forget. But after describing what they need to do when the kid's airway starts to close up, they understood. We know no one would do this intentionally. It was a different story with out stepdaughters old daycare, who after being repeatedly advised on the peanut situation, still managed to send her to ER 3 times. (would've pulled her from school after 2nd time but her bio-dad wouldn't agree).

    Damn! my comment's as long as the post. I need to work on brevity.

  6. This is tough. My stepdaughter is mildly allergic to peanuts, and my son is fatally so. We carry around epipens, and Benadryl all the time, have to question the wait-staff at restaurants, and brief everyone that we leave the kids with. Very much in step with the point that it’s the parent’s responsibility to take all the precautions. It’s good that most kids have a heightened sensitivity in determining when peanuts are present. That’s saved us a few times.

    We are pretty understanding about innocent mistakes being made. My parents have done this–just forget. But after describing what they need to do when the kid’s airway starts to close up, they understood. We know no one would do this intentionally. It was a different story with out stepdaughters old daycare, who after being repeatedly advised on the peanut situation, still managed to send her to ER 3 times. (would’ve pulled her from school after 2nd time but her bio-dad wouldn’t agree).

    Damn! my comment’s as long as the post. I need to work on brevity.

  7. I try and keep allergies in mind when I send a snack to school or plan a classroom party. My son spent 2 years in preschool with a child who could not tolerate gluten, the first year we were asked to send a gluten-free snack when it was our turn to provide them (which happened about once every 3 weeks or so) the second year, the Mom opted to supply the school with a basket of gluten free snacks for her daughter to choose from and say nothing to us parents. Since I already knew of her allergy I just continued to make my choices accordingly because I always felt sorry for my little sister when she was allergic to damn near everything. It sucks to be a child who is left out.

  8. The best thing I've ever found to ensure a peanut free classroom is explaining at great length to the students what happens when someone with a peanut allergy crosses a peanut.

    My kids are not allergic to peanuts, but if i put something containing peanuts in their lunch, the reaction would lead you to believe they were. Every time we have ck_lunchbox's family over, my kids go through a checklist of every food we'll serve, making sure it's safe for his daughter. Because maybe I'll forget, but you tell a kid another kid could DIE, and those kids will guard that one kid with their life.

    Kids are way better at this sort of thing than grownups.

  9. The best thing I’ve ever found to ensure a peanut free classroom is explaining at great length to the students what happens when someone with a peanut allergy crosses a peanut.

    My kids are not allergic to peanuts, but if i put something containing peanuts in their lunch, the reaction would lead you to believe they were. Every time we have ck_lunchbox’s family over, my kids go through a checklist of every food we’ll serve, making sure it’s safe for his daughter. Because maybe I’ll forget, but you tell a kid another kid could DIE, and those kids will guard that one kid with their life.

    Kids are way better at this sort of thing than grownups.

  10. I hate that there's a world where kids can't bring PB&J to school. I think it's stupid and I would be that parent who considers it a right.

  11. I hate that there’s a world where kids can’t bring PB&J to school. I think it’s stupid and I would be that parent who considers it a right.

  12. You know, I WAS the child with severe allergies. Not peanuts…Dairy (not intolerance, severe allergy), corn and wheat.

    And you know what?

    There were no notes. No "tell everyone not to make this." I was told not to eat it, and that was that. *sigh*

    I don't want to kill some kid willy-nilly…but at the same time I like being able to create what I want for kids.

  13. You know, I WAS the child with severe allergies. Not peanuts…Dairy (not intolerance, severe allergy), corn and wheat.

    And you know what?

    There were no notes. No “tell everyone not to make this.” I was told not to eat it, and that was that. *sigh*

    I don’t want to kill some kid willy-nilly…but at the same time I like being able to create what I want for kids.

  14. In my son's class, a child has diabetes and the mom wants everyone to send in pencils or erasers for their kid's b-day celebration rather than cupcakes or brownies. Because kids definitely love a good pencil for a treat!!!

  15. Thank you for this post. Especially this: "I will consider my children’s peanut consumption a privilege, an happy accident, (which comes with an obligation to respect those with allergies), rather than a natural right to be be guarded ferociously, and at your son’s expense."

    I cannot tell you the life changes we have had to make with a daughter who is allergic to peanuts or my jealousy of parents with non-allergic children. Nor can I ever sufficiently explain the anxiety I have sending my 3.5 yo to preschool every day, going to any birthday parties or simply visiting family or friends. Well, I could, but it would be a very long reply, and I have my own blog for that.

    Thank you for being aware, kind and respectful.

  16. Thank you for this post. Especially this: “I will consider my children’s peanut consumption a privilege, an happy accident, (which comes with an obligation to respect those with allergies), rather than a natural right to be be guarded ferociously, and at your son’s expense.”

    I cannot tell you the life changes we have had to make with a daughter who is allergic to peanuts or my jealousy of parents with non-allergic children. Nor can I ever sufficiently explain the anxiety I have sending my 3.5 yo to preschool every day, going to any birthday parties or simply visiting family or friends. Well, I could, but it would be a very long reply, and I have my own blog for that.

    Thank you for being aware, kind and respectful.

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