advice on what to say to \"nasty\" non pa mom

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 12:52am
momofjen's picture
Joined: 10/07/2002 - 09:00

My daughter with pa, and tna is in a nut free 1st grade class. The school decided to make all the first grade classes nut free because many of the rooms share bathrooms and get together for activities.
Apparently, there is an irate mother in the classroom ajoining my dd. She feels that it is ridiculous that her child can not have nut containing snacks in her class. She is planning on attending the next school board meeting to discuss this issue.
Now that I know this , I plan on attending.A very good friend of mine is an active member of the board and is anxious to gather some pertinent facts to use at the meeting to basically " shut her up. " What strong points do you recommend?
I forgot to mention, the cafeteria is not peanut free. There is a peanut free area, so her child can eat peanuts at lunch.

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 1:24am
pgrubbs's picture
Joined: 10/27/2003 - 09:00

Give your friend a copy of the Peanut Allergy Answer Book asap!

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 2:27am
e-mom's picture
Joined: 04/23/2000 - 09:00

Just ask her if she believes in a child's safety?
Ask her if she's knows that peanut exposure could possibly cause an anaphylactic reaction does she still want her child to be the one to cause this?
Ask her if she cares if a child dies or not?
Pretty bold statements, IMHO. Something to keep in mind: If you come across as a calm, educating, caring parent (no matter how hard you want to wring her neck) you will win over more supporters. If you come across as a irate, my child is special (you all know what I mean) type of a woman, more people will just look the other way.
Sorry you are going through this. Let us know what happens.

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 11:14am
Dawn's picture
Joined: 02/22/1999 - 09:00

momofjen, I have been very fortunate with my son's school and haven't had to deal with what you are dealing with, but I am so afraid that I will at some point.
My first goal is protecting my son and educating his teachers, as well as anyone else within earshot [img][/img] But I try to make them think that I am just as concerned about their child's right to peanut butter [img][/img]. Well, really (and I do mean this), I don't want them to feel like I am telling them what they should feed their child. Anyway, when I spoke to our school's PTO, on the same day as the furor in Walnut Creek, by the way, so I was a double nervous wreck, worried about the same reaction, I was sure to mention several times that this really is a life threatening allergy. I threw in a bunch of "fatal"s and then tried to make them think that while it was tricky for me to manage pa and educate my son, all they needed to worry about was washing their hands after eating peanut products and when it was possible, to try not to send in peanut products to school. I got an astonished and heartfelt "Oh my G*d" reaction when I spoke about the possibility of a contact reaction becoming an ingestion reaction since little kids always seem to put their hands in their mouths. At that moment, I felt like that mom came over to "my side". She hadn't previously made the connection.
We do not have a ban in place but there a very few pbj's and some of the teachers are even having every child who brings a lunch from home wash their hands.
I completely agree with e-mom about coming across as calm. Stay the are on the right road and the other mom will be perceived as a nut (tee hee).
There is a link somewhere on these boards about a Canadian school board policy. It is a wonderful document. I know that some have said that they couldn't print it, but I was able to print a couple pages of it. I'll try to find the thread.
[url=""][/url] Try this link, click on "publications" on the left and then scroll down, click on "anaphylaxis". I downloaded the english version and it came up in adobe acrobat.
[This message has been edited by Dawn (edited September 25, 2003).]

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 12:42pm
maggie0303's picture
Joined: 04/14/2003 - 09:00

We do not have a nut free area or table at our school. But reading through a lot of posts lately about getting the message across to other parents this just came to mind. When kids are in school there is a lot of emphasis on cold and germs,

Posted on: Thu, 09/25/2003 - 9:37pm
samirosenjacken's picture
Joined: 09/30/2002 - 09:00

I have spoken at PTA meetings before about this issue. I have some things I can email you if you are interested.
Basically, I always do my comparisons.. I compare peanuts to a loaded gun. Everyone has a right to carry a gun and with a permit and license to carry, it's legal. How would you feel if a teacher brought a loaded gun into school? Peanuts have the same effect on my child as a loaded gun. The results are exactly the same ..
I also discuss exactly what can happen to my child if she eats or touches anything contaminated by peanuts. I explain about the symptoms... the need for epi pens .. fast reactions.. all that. I also give many examples of alternatives to peanut food. Basically, I am a firm believer that at least the classroom needs to be free of peanuts and nuts. It's the only room in the school your child spends the majority of her time in and you can control. It's needs to be her "safe place."
A private school in our town just declared itself peanut free. They have asked if I'd come and speak to their Parents about it. I guess some of their parents didn't handle the change too well!

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2003 - 12:18am
SF's picture
Joined: 06/06/2002 - 09:00

Any info that you find on this site is a great help in educating the public...articles that have been posted recently are especially helpful. Look under "Media" for the Newsweek article on allergies etc. Also check out FAAN for pamphlets and PA fact sheets to copy for your meeting.
I also think that it is best for the info to come from the school and not appear that it is coming from you, the PA parent; it will be better to kind of remove yourself from this situation. This way the peanut free rules are the schools rules and hopefully the difficult non pa parents will take the schools rules and peanut free decisions seriously.
I wish you lots of luck and hope that in educating others we are able to keep our children safe!

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2003 - 12:28am
SF's picture
Joined: 06/06/2002 - 09:00

Dawn: thanks for that link for the Canada school board publication. It is a great tool for us to use as an example in creating a food allergy guideline for our schools in the US. I might have to order it...

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2003 - 2:42am
momofjen's picture
Joined: 10/07/2002 - 09:00

Thanks to everyone for their great replies. These are all things that I know to say when I am having a rational coversation with someone about PA. Sometimes it is hard to remain calm when I hear someone who thinks us PA parents are " nutty " . I loved the analogy about spreading the cold. Everyone can relate to that.
I know it doesn't help to have another PA child in my dd's class whose parents think it is fine to have nut products in the class, as long as her son doesn't eat them. He buys lunch at school everyday and I even saw him at the back to school picnic eating cookies off the "community desert" table. His parents were no where to be found. I consider myself to have a middle of the road comfort level, but I'm not going to play Russian Roulette with my childs life.

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2003 - 3:10am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Momofjen:
My main advice on this one is to go in with any open mind. Listen to this parents concerns and try to communicate that 1)you understand that you are asking for a sacrifice and 2) the very necessary reasons that you are asking for them.
P.S. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I do want to point out that I am one of the moms that apparently is playing "Russion Roulette" with my child (?!) I have not had peanut free restrictions for ds since preschool. (I alos often bake items for the shared treat table that he knows are safe for him to have.) If you don't want to be judged, please don't just other parents.

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2003 - 11:26am
momofjen's picture
Joined: 10/07/2002 - 09:00

I appologize if I offended you. I certainly did not intend to. Do you get nervous when you have safe treats for your little one on the same table as nut products? I guess I would worry about cross contamination ( PB cookie placed on same tray as your safe cookies and then removed yet residue remains ) . It is not my intention to judge anyone. I spend a lot of time wondering if I go overboard with her allergy. Then I come to these boards and read and it seems that many are way stricter than we are. So, I guess we fall somewhere in the middle.
I am curious as to why you don't have any peanut restrictions in your childs class and as to how old you child is?
Thanks for your imput.

Posted on: Sat, 09/27/2003 - 1:08am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Momofjen:
Thank you for the apology, although it isn't necessary because I wasn't offended. I just wanted to point out that there are many different comfort zones and no one has the definative answer on what is right and wrong. I think because of the nature of this being a support board, that many of the more vocal posters are the ones that seem to have a tighter comfort zone...but there are also many of us who don't.
Anyway, my son is 6 yrs old and in the 1st grade. I don't recall his "official" CAP-RAST scores (the actual numbers didn't mean much to me), but our Ped. told us after both testings (one after a severe reaction, the second 2 years later) that he was "off the chart".
He has had 2 reactions that we are aware of: the first when my husband had been eating Reese's candy for halloween and touched my son (this was before we knew of his peanut allergy and did not put 2 and 2 together). This first touch reaction was controlled w/Benedryl. He was about 22 months old.
When he was 2.5 years I decided to give him his first PBJ (again, never realized the above reaction was due to was fall and dh had also been raking leaves...thought it was environmental). He had an anaphylactic reaction that resulted in a call to 911, an ambulance ride to the ER, and an overnight stay in the hospital.
For the next year (before preschool started) we were very vigilant (I thank these boards for the all the tips on foods, etc), and did not have another reaction.
In preschool we had a peanut free class for him, but did allow "may contains". My reasoning for this is that in my opinion, "may contains" posed little threat to him, as he was not ingesting them. He had survived almost his whole life up to that point w/no reactions from others eating "may contains" so I didn't think it was necessary to restrict other kids. We did restrict obvious peanut products, as preschoolers are so messy! Our restriction was in the form of a letter to other parents and was a request only. We asked them to avoid obvious peanut and nut products, but if they did bring them in could they inform the teachers so they could put extra precautions in place. We never had to put extra precautions in place as we got 100% compliance. Most of the moms even called me before bringing in bday treats to make sure it was something that DS could eat. I really feel that sometimes the best way is to give people the facts, and give them the option of making the right choice. I know this does not always work, but so many times we assume that others will not do the right thing, both sides dig their heels in and become defensive and no one wins.
The summer before DS started kindergarten, I met a neighbor who's son was also severely allergic and in 5th grade. I was amazed to find out that he had no restrictions placed in his school (other than he had the emergency plan in place & a special treat bag for substitutions). She had taught him to be careful where he sat at lunch, to put a napkin down before eating, etc. I found this really empowering.
I should also mention that ds HATED being singled out for his allergy. He really disliked other people/kids talking about it, and the thought of having to sit at a special table reduced him to tears. (Now, obviously if I felt it was really necessary to protect him he would just have to deal with it, but in our case I felt that we could try another avenue.)
So in kindergarten, we did not place any restrictions on the other kids (they brought in their own snacks every day) but did send home a note stating that there was a peanut allergic child in the class, so please avoid peanut containing items for bday treats (I still did not want a whole class of kids eating PB cookies at once). Again, we got 100% compliance on the bday treats. Yes, some of the kids brought in PB crackers for snacks. But the teacher was aware (as was Ds). They just made sure that hands were washed,etc.
Now he is in 1st grade. We have sent no notes home at all this year. He has a treat bag in his class for any "questionable" bday treats that are brought in. We have taught him to use his lunch box as a placemat so that his food does not touch the lunch table. We have taught him to go to the teacher/lunch monitor if ever he feels uncomfortable about something. If someone is sitting too close to him w/a pb sandwich he moves a seat or two down.
I do work the lunch room once a week (not because of PA, but because it is one of the volunteer duties all families at our school have to take turns with). Yes, there is PB...but it is not as bad as I imagined. I take comfort in the fact that DS only eats food from home for lunch (they do not have a cafeteria). So any reaction he would have (heaven forbid), would be a contact reaction, and while it would be serious, he would be okay. Again, he has been going to parks, and playing w/other kids his whole is not that much different.
DS knows that the only treats he is allowed to take at school are either already okayed by me (w/ a note to the teacher) or are on a list of manufactured items that he has already eaten (starburst, etc). He has been very concientious, even in kindergarten about bringing items home when he is not sure. The school had official asthma/allergy training at the beginning of the school year and are trained w/the Epi.
One other thing I wanted to mention is that I didn't want his allergy to be something that someone could "use" against him as he got older. So while we don't keep it a secret, we don't advertise it either.
Lastly, I know that our way is not the only way to handle this. But in our case it just "feels" right. DS knows that in order to have this freedom, he must accept the responsibility. I have explained to him that if I don't feel he is looking out for himself (ie, using his lunchbox as a placemat, etc.) I will ask for tighter restrictions.
It probably seems improbable to let a 1st grader have the responsibility of watching out for himself...but my trust level in him (and his own trust level in himself) keeps growing. There have been many times when I did not anticipate a situation (ie, a coach giving out candy after a practice,etc) that he has made the RIGHT choice on his own (ie, either selecting an appropriate choice like a starburst, or not eating the treat until showing it to me). The fact that he has learned to do this w/o me having to jump in has actually made me feel better about the situation than any restrictions could.
I hope this helps give a different perspective. Sorry it has probably gotten a little off topic and it is soooo long.
Again, I urge you to keep an open mind when dealing with this mom. I don't mean that you have to give in on anything you don't feel comfortable with, but do listen to what she has to say. The quickest way to diffuse her power is for you to remain calm and friendly. Let others see that you are the reasonable one.
*P.S. I just wanted to add that I do support folks that have a tighter comfort zone, but this is just what works for us.
***edited to add: I never answered your question regarding the shared treat table. If I make treats I make sure that the organizers know that they cannot be mixed in on other plates and need to stay on my plates. I have them put them at the beginning of the table to minimize others touching them after touching other treats. I also scan the table for other "high risk" treats. If there is nothing "high risk" (ie, obvious nut containing) I don't worry too much. If there is then I do have ds pull his treat off right way. You are right that there are some dangers of others touching the items...but i just wanted to point out that you never know what type of precautions the other parents have put in place.
[This message has been edited by kelly01 (edited September 27, 2003).]

Posted on: Sat, 09/27/2003 - 6:41am
maggie0303's picture
Joined: 04/14/2003 - 09:00

I just wanted to let you know that we share very similar "comfort zones". Although I also support people who have a tighter zone, it is great to hear of someone whose situation is very similar to ours. When I first came to this board I felt like everyone was doing things so different than what I had been doing for my daughter. It took my a little time to sort out what has worked for us and what changes I needed to make. Its great to hear all of the different ways that PA is handled in other families.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Posted on: Sun, 09/28/2003 - 6:12pm
gw_mom3's picture
Joined: 02/14/2000 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by kelly01:
[b]Hi Momofjen:
I take comfort in the fact that DS only eats food from home for lunch (they do not have a cafeteria). So any reaction he would have (heaven forbid), would be a contact reaction, and while it would be serious, he would be okay.[/b]
When I first took my ds to her allergist for testing, he told me about a child that had a severe anaphylactic reaction to smell. The kids in an adjoining classroom were doing a peanut butter bird feeder craft project and this child caught a whiff of the pb as he walked past the open classroom door. He didn't die but they thought he was going to. I do always hope that my child wouldn't have a serious reaction from contact or airborne but I always assume she will, just in case.

Posted on: Sun, 09/28/2003 - 8:18pm
Claire's picture
Joined: 04/19/2000 - 09:00

momofjen, is there any chance you could get some written statements from your Dr. about the severity of the reactions? I have found in the 17 years of dealing with this that the more information I bring in from his hand writing the more serious people become. I had an aid at school not taking the allergy the right way and i went and had my Dr. call and amazingly she realized that it was as serious as we were telling her.
Also bring up the fact to her that her DD can have nuts at some point in school and tell her about the table in lunch for her DD.
Amazing how grown adults can be so selfish! I hope you make out well at the meeting and please let us know. take care

Posted on: Mon, 09/29/2003 - 12:25am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Gale:
Don't want to drag this one to off topic, but just want to clarify: I understand that DS could have a severe reaction to touch/smell without prior notice. That is why everyone is trained w/Epi, etc and prepared to act on their training. However, for me, if I constantly dwell on this fact I would never let him leave my side and I would be a basket case all day. I don't think it is unreasonable to remember that for him "most likely" a touch/smell reaction for him would be less life-threatening than ingestion. Hope this clarifies.

Posted on: Mon, 09/29/2003 - 4:14am
leesadb's picture
Joined: 08/24/2003 - 09:00

Hello. Everyones pretty much covered all you can say. Print off the FAAN most commonly asked questions. My Favorite saying lately is "My son didn't ask for this allergy, GOD gave it to him!" My son is also in 1st grade. I get a call home evertime they switch classrooms to see if it is OK. They wash down everything in the other rooms before he goes in. Good luck!!!

Posted on: Mon, 09/29/2003 - 4:40am
deegann's picture
Joined: 07/27/2003 - 09:00

[This message has been edited by deegann (edited March 15, 2004).]

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