Need Some Help Pondering My Position(s) Re School Stuff

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 7:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I really need some help pondering my position(s) re school stuff and I'd really appreciate any advice anyone has. I have a few things whirling around in my brain and one part of me knows my position (and it's fairly strong) and yet another part of me is beginning to question that position.

When Jesse first started school at age 3-3/4, I was told by his teacher that he would be sitting beside other children eating pb. He had just had an anaphylactic reaction six months previous to this where he almost died.
I thought, okay, he doesn't have to legally go to school until Grade 1. I'll keep him home. Settled down, of course, during only a 20 minute walk home to realize that there must be a school board policy in place that would ensure the relative safety of my son at school.

So, in Ontario, we have a school board policy (which is pretty well the same from district to district) which ensures the right of PA children to a "peanut free" classroom. This right would extend up until when they complete school in Grade 12, so at the age of 17 or 18.

Fine. Found the school board policy, had a peanut free classroom instituted for Jesse. His teacher for JK and SK worked really well with me re his PA and she wouldn't allow "may contain" products into the classroom. I had suggested that perhaps the other children could eat them (they were holiday cookies) but simply not Jesse. She was adamant - peanut free to her meant no may contains or made ins. With her backing, I tended to agree with this position.

I had a lot of difficulty with the principal of that school but did manage to work things out with her by the time we left that town, to the point where the school was "reduce the risk" and other teachers were choosing to run peanut free classrooms.

Then, we move here. I'm fine last year. Communicate with the new principal before we even arrive in town and everything seems to go well last year really re PA. No complaints heard from other parents (even though I am sure there were some), the staff were accepting, etc.

So, change schools this year. The principal is working really well with me re this but I feel as though I am constantly butting heads with Jesse's teacher.

Here's the latest situation. I go into the classroom the other day and a few things in the garbage are "may contain" items which, according to Jesse's school plan are not allowed in the peanut free classroom. So, I come home and e-mail her re this violation (if you will).

The other thing was Jesse came home last week with two round donut things I had sent into the classroom that had coconut on them. I asked him why he hadn't eaten them because he loves them. The other child whose Mother's confidentiality I felt I had violated (different thread here) is allergic to coconut as well as the other foods his Mom told me about. I went "Oh my God" and both kids are looking at me and asking me when I'm going to stop it. I was really upset because no one has told us not to send coconut items into the classroom and I know how I would feel if a peanut product was sent in. So, I had also asked the teacher in the e-mail why we hadn't been told about the coconut.

To-day, she stopped me after school. She said that she didn't know where the "may contain" items came from that were in her classroom garbage but thought that the cheese and cracker mix ones were okay because they are elsewhere in the school. It's like WHAT?
Yes, they are elsewhere in the school because it is not a peanut free school, you are simply running a peanut free classroom.

She said that she wasn't aware of any food allergies the other child had except to shellfish (meanwhile, his Mother has told me that she spoke with the teacher specifically about watermelon so the teacher would not give it to him in the summer months). I said that no, I had been told tree nuts (not peanuts), shellfish, and watermelon, but not coconut.

The teacher then goes on to say that perhaps we weren't told about the coconut because the Mother is in the classroom a great part of the time. Fine. I understand that. The woman obviously has a totally different comfort zone than I do and I guess she feels if she is in the classroom, should her son react, at least she's there volunteering. I don't know.

But the way the teacher said it was like I was the pain in the a** for having the requirements I do and for not being in the classroom to watch my son. She just looks at me with this stone face and you can tell she's really ticked off with me each time she gets caught (if you will) bugging something up.

Come home, read her monthly newsletter, which is mostly about the Work to Rule situation.
But lumped into thank-you for accommodating or understanding about the different work-to-rule things is "no peanut products".
I feel it should have been a totally separate thing, but perhaps I'm being nitpicky. I just feel that the food allergy should not have been placed in with basically an apology re a political situation the teachers are in.

As most of you can see, I've posted different questions re schools on the board and Sue re-raised some older ones as well.

I am thinking of removing the "may contain" clause from the school plan, but not for this year. But what would the ramifications of this be when I'm already dealing with a reluctant parent community and difficult teacher? How come we couldn't have "may contain" last year and we can this year and the classroom is still "peanut free"? that kinda thing.

Also, then, I was questioning about my requirements that Jesse have a "peanut free" classroom. We are trying, each of us in our own ways, to teach our children to navigate through life in a peanut full world. If I keep him in a peanut free classroom until he reaches 17 or 18 years old, am I teaching him how to navigate in the world? Or, am I ensuring my child's safety, to the best of my abilities, within his rights, until an age when I no longer can? For example, the next year, he'd be off to university or college where no concessions would be made.

I called the superintendent of the board tonight who deals with the policy re anaphylaxis and have to speak with him tomorrow. I did speak with Jesse's principal tonight and asked her, in her experience, what was the highest grade where a parent had requested a peanut free classroom. Grade 8.
She is e-mailing a high school principal in another town to get an answer re high school.

So, why wouldn't I take this right when I have it and have already used it successfully (albeit with much head banging against walls) for three years, now going on four? Why not keep Jesse safe at school for as long as I can?

What would people think if next year or the year after, in the same school, I chose not to have the same requirements? I'm even unclear as to how they would react if I took out the "may contains".

It's funny how things change. I started out when Jesse was 3-3/4 years old, got the information I needed for a peanut free classroom and thought, okay, that's it. Just kinda thought, okay, that's it until he finishes school (not post-secondary). But along the way and with different experiences, I do feel you begin to question what your needs and requirements are.

I know that many people have posted that they don't have the peanut free classroom requirement because they don't want focus on their child's PA (another comfort zone, which I also understand). But, we are very "out there" as far as Jesse's PA, with newspaper articles, etc.

And just curious, kinda a side-note, but if you knew that a child in the classroom was allergic to coconut, but hadn't received a note home saying so (because of the Mother's comfort zone and the teacher's obvious ignorance), would you send coconut products into the classroom?

Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]


Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 8:51am
KayMarks's picture
Joined: 01/10/2000 - 09:00

Hi Cindy- from all your posts I've noticed you've never mentioned the school nurse. Can she maybe help? I know that our school nurse has been so helpful. Our teachers have been great, but the nurse is still making sure that no mistakes happen.
No I wouldn't send in coconut or anything else someone was allergic to. Maybe because I just don't want the worry. In fact, my dd's class has a little boy with a metabolic disorder and his food is even more limited than my daughter. I was lucky enough to be a homeroom mom and I made sure that he was able to eat everything the other kids could. His mom was shocked I would go out of my way. I told her she did for me, I was just returning the favor.
I feel for you and Jessie. It has to be so hard dealing with that teacher. Maybe the nurse could sit her down and sort everything out? I'm lucky (knock on wood) that if I see a problem or whatnot, I am to talk to the nurse or the principal- they will take care of it. That takes the pressure off me and the teacher doesn't take it out on me. For example- she sent home the snack chart and only put "no peanut products". I asked her why she didn't put "no nut products" either and she got very defensive and told me nothing "really has nuts in it". sigh. I waited a day and mentioned it to the nurse and said I wanted it changed and it was. The nurse was kind enough to make seem like "she" noticed it and not me. Oh, I almost forgot- in addition to my 504- the teachers got together and assigned one person to check all the snacks first thing in the morning. That way, if the teachers are busy, reading the ingredients cannot be forgotten.
Hope this helps. Take care, Kelly

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 9:00am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

KayMarks, thank-you for your wonderful, well thought out response to my dilemma. [img][/img] Only problem is, sometime in the last decade or two since I completed school in the province
of Ontario, we no longer have public school nurses. I know we had them 25 years ago when I was in high school because I distinctly remember going to get Midol from her. But no, none in Ontario anymore.
I had been told that there was a public health nurse in checking for head lice last week by another parent and when I called the school the secretary said no, the public health nurse doesn't even come in for things like that.
Your advice was really great and much appreciated.
What I particularly liked and what I may find helpful is dealing with the principal rather than the teacher (since I don't have the school nurse option).
My previous experience had been that I worked really well with Jesse's teacher and NOT the principal (the exact opposite of now) for JK/SK so I tended not to approach the principal with anything. Last year, both principal and teacher seemed to be on the same page as me. And now, I have the completely reverse situation.
I know, just for me, that I'll be sure not to send coconut products into the classroom only because it's like what a lot of parents say to me, should Jesse have a reaction, they want to know that at least they didn't send in the peanut product that caused it. I feel the same way about the coconut even if the child's Mother doesn't.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 10:27am
Chicago's picture
Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
Not sure if I can help here - I went through the whole thread (and have been thru some of the others) but bear with me if I miss stuff.
Coconut is not a tree net (it is a seed) per my allergist. DD had a very low rast test reading to coconut so she had not had "pure" cocunut, but has had many things in which coconut oil is included. Lots of the gummy snacks, even some sports drinks have coconut oil, so I am thankful we don't have to avoid that.
So maybe the mom has had the same sort of advice from her allergist that I did regarding coconut - ie, the child is "allergic" but it is more of a sensitivity then an anaphlaxisis risk. As I understood it that is because the protein is not as strong as it would be in (for example) a peanut. And coconut snacks for kids are rare - nasty hairy stuff.
But Blah blah blah from me. We can't get inside her head. I have had a new experience this year with having another PA child in the class and swinging from "isn't it nice everyone is thinking/doing whatever" to "what are they thinking allowing whatever". You have seen how some quarrel on these boards regarding comfort level - and it is different when you are there live. I have decided to mind my own business and when I am in charge of the child (class parties, play dates etc...) things happen by my rules.

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 12:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Very good point about the coconut. My first thought was - I definitely wouldn't send it in. However, if I knew the parent I would ask specific questions before considering sending it in.
My youngest son is in a peanut-free school. He is not allergic (he can't eat it at home because of me - boo hoo). As far as I understand, they do not allow PEANUTS/NUTS in the entire school - including on "special" days i.e. bake sales, halloween parties, etc. They have never mentioned "may contain".
Now, I am assuming your son has been instructed not to eat anything without your OK. If you are now comfortable with "may contain" products in his class that makes sense - he's older, and understands more. You can't expect that one day - BAM - he takes over his own care. It has to start slow. So, maybe he - and you - are ready for others to bring "may contain" in to the class.
Has he reacted to touch/smell? If not there may eventually come a day when you are comfortable with actual peanuts in his class. And if that day comes, take the time to make sure you are sure, then let the school know you feel it is no longer necessary to have a peanut free room. (I wouldn't actually send a letter home saying send peanuts - just stop asking that they not be sent.)
Now about high school! I'm not sure where you got info about peanut-free classes in high school. I guess the classroom maybe. But since everyone eats in the same cafeteria it would have to be a peanut free school. One of my kids just graduated a few years ago, and another is in high school now. Sorry, but, honestly, I don't think peanut free is doable. They can't keep the drugs out. They can't keep weapons out. I don't see a teacher feeling a peanut is a priority.
Last point - regarding the teaching sticking the "don't send peanut products" in the middle of her rantings. Since it's the whole school that is peanut free the monthly newsletter always has a reminder - it is written as a separate paragraph and mentions that "one or more children has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts/nuts"
My son's teacher sends stuff home every week, and it used to include the information that it is a peanut free school and no peanuts/nuts are allowed. She has stopped including that - I think because whoever was sending it in finally got the message and stopped. Actually, my son told me that sometimes she didn't let kids eat their snacks. Sometimes because it was sweets (not allowed) but sometimes it was a sandwich (PB?). I don't think the pa child is in my son's class, but if it's a peanut free school I'm glad his teacher stands her ground.
OK, lots of rambling, but not much help. Soooooo, I'll just say, good luck and I truly hope all works out well - soon.

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 1:03pm
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy:
I have posted on other threads that I have not requested a peanut free room for my child this year (6 years old and in kindergarten), so I won't rehash my reasoning. As I have said before, I was very conflicted about my decision, so I certainly understand the viewpoint of wanting a peanut free room.
However, if you truly did want to move away from the peanut free room, I think you could simply explain that you are more comfortable with Jesse taking more control and/or responsiblity as he grows older. Children are much messier in the early grades so it is reasonable that you would want to have more protection for your son when he is younger. I think most parents would understand. (Similarly, the kindergarteners in our school are not "released" from school until the teacher sees a parent...however the older children are let our the front door to find their parents...same type of reasoning).
Don't know if this helps at all. I think this is something we all struggle with.

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 1:24pm
k's picture
Joined: 09/22/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy~
What does your gut say? I figure your child still gets practice with the "real world" whenever he goes anywhere other than home or school (as if home and school are not the real world....?ha). So, in my opinion, I say...if you got it....let it ride! [img][/img]
I don't know if you agree, but sometimes I too doubt maybe something I am doing and I begin to think.....hhmmmmm? You know something? I only begin to doubt things when other people (people who don't understand this and are ignorant...or some, just down right stupid or mean)voice their objections. I try to find my center and get to the "gut" of it. I ask myself the hard questions....and 9 out of 10 times I feel I made the right decision. I just have to remind myself not to buy into what I hear if I really do believe I am doing the right thing for my child. There have always been moments of self-doubt for anyone who has ever stood up for anything. It is afterall...a tiring and sometimes lonely affair.
Get to your know.
ps...hope this makes some sense...I am very tired but just wanted to extend my support!

Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2002 - 11:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

k, right on! [img][/img] I have been examining this since I posted the thread starter last night really closely in my head. Bottom line for me is that I know I can ensure Jesse's (relative) safety by asking for a "peanut free" classroom until he is in Grade 8. The way I feel to-day, that's what I'm going to be doing.
I do have to get the information from his principal re high school and then I believe there must be something in place that would ensure a peanut free table.
The "may contains" are more up in the air for me (and my gut) right now. I'm not going to change his school plan this year but I will look at it closely for when he enters Grade 3 next September. I *may* be able to remove that part of the school plan.
I understand why I'm questioning what we have in place for Jesse. It's because I've come across an extremely reluctant teacher and I also have another parent in the classroom who has a totally different comfort zone re her child's food allergies than I can ever imagine having.
If I didn't have the reluctant teacher or the parent with the different comfort zone, I would not have questioned Jesse's school plan at all. Seriously.
That's why your post was just so right on. It truly was. The other thing about your gut - with PA (and I guess a lot of other things in life), I have always simply trusted my gut instinct. Gut instinct knew that Jesse was having a food reaction of some sort at the age of 18 months, even though I really knew nothing about food allergies and there are none in our respective families. I just knew. So, yes, thank-you.
I believe since we do have the right to ensure his safety by requesting a peanut free classroom at least up until Grade 8 that that's what I should do for him. I won't be able to ensure his safety as well in high school and certainly not after he leaves my home. But I can up until Grade 8, as far as his school setting. We have that basic right so why wouldn't I take advantage of it when I have consistently now for four years? It would be different if I had never had a school plan in place for Jesse. And again, the only thing that I would really question for his school plan next year are the "may contains" but that's after I do a bit more research.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/19/2002 - 12:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The Mother of the child with the coconut allergy did speak with me this morning after I finished the breakfast club thing. Her son
is not anaphylactic to coconut. I told her how Jesse, upon learning that the child was allergic to coconut, didn't eat any more of the donut things, washed his hands and washed his desk. This would be how Jesse would understand to deal with a food allergy and I actually think it's excellent and extremely compassionate. I now have to explain to him that there are some food allergies that are not life threatening.
The same child, however, is anaphylactic to tree nuts and the Mother quite obviously has an extremely different comfort zone than I do. That's okay. I have no right to question or comment on another person's comfort zone.
I e-mailed the teacher telling her that the Mom had spoken with me and also why I understood why Jesse was as concerned as he was. I also outlined why, for us, no may contains are allowed in the classroom (that 1 in 5 chance). I expressed my understanding for how difficult I realize it is for other parents to deal with this, etc.
I just finished reading another thread under Schools about non-peanut-free classrooms and I have to say that I feel my restrictions that I place on the school make me seem like Psycho Mom from Hell. There are no dissenting comments allowed in the other thread - it is a very positive thread about people who are having good experiences with non-peanut-free classrooms. However, again, I came away with the feeling, after reading it, that I was Psycho Mom from Hell.
I believe that I am teaching my son how to navigate through the world, but navigate as safely as possible with his life threatening allergy. I'm not able to ask for peanut free situations when he's older and not with me, or out of elementary school (have to get the news re high school yet) so why, for now, wouldn't I make sure that I can ensure his safety while I'm able to.
Do I feel saddened that perhaps people see PA stamped across his forehead instead of seeing the wonderful, outgoing little guy I have? Yes. Do I feel angry or sad when he is bullied about his allergy? Yes, I do. But then, I also felt sad when he was bullied last year about having long hair, necessitating a hair cut.
Bottom line for me is that my child almost died 4 years ago by merely touching a pb product to his lip. If I can have him in a classroom whereby there will NOT be a child sitting beside him eating pb, then I will.
Do I teach him the basics about keeping himself safe? Darn straight I do. That is particularly reinforced when I see to what extent he went to when he found out another child in his class was allergic to coconut (without understanding that it wasn't life threatening).
I understand that this is a comfort zone thing. I understand that it is a contentious issue. However, for me, the analogy would be, would I let Jesse sit beside another child with a loaded gun in school? No. And simply a loaded gun isn't as lethal as a peanut product. The other child would have to fire the gun.
k was absolutely correct. My gut tells me what is right and somehow if my gut makes me look like Psycho Mom from Hell, making the school jump through hoops, so be it. I know that my son's safety is relatively ensured when I am not there to ensure it.
For me, I have almost lost my beautiful son because of his allergy. I'll do everything in my power, for as long as I have it, to ensure he is safe. I'll also do everything in my power to continue to educate myself, question my comfort zone and welcome the opinions of others.
Why did I feel the need to explain my position? [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/19/2002 - 1:01am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

Cindy, from one psycho to go girl! [img][/img]
I wanted to remind you that as far as "may contain" products are concerned, there is a 1 in 5 chance that the product contains peanuts. The advice I received from our allergist was to treat "may contains" as though they do contain, to do otherwise is like playing Russian Roulette especially given how severe Jesse's reaction was to simply having a peanut containing product touch his lips.
Just my two cents worth.

Posted on: Tue, 11/19/2002 - 3:37am
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

I too, cindy think that I am a rather obsessed creature when it comes to williams allergies. Not something I am proud of , but sadly needed in this world. We are driven to such lengths, (in my opinion) by the very fact that to ensure that people take notice , and take the precautions needed to protect our children we HAVE to become the pain in the backside type of mother. Watch how the poor teachers tense when we enter the room!!!( ha ha ha!!)
IF, we didnt need to do this , if , we didnt need to fight for the simplest things, we wouldnt feel guilty about the allergy 'label'.
If every teacher/ child career /doctor , knew about anaphylaxis . How to adapt a classroom to avoid cross contamination, how to cater for lessons such as cookery with an allergic child in mind. Life would be easier.
Having a child minder with simple knowledge about allergy.
Have a doctor recognise the need for a referal to a allergist ,(with out us begging!! ) life would be better for our whole familys.
just knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms and use an epi-pen is wonderful, but prevention is part of the care of a allergic child.
One day there will be so many children with allergies that it will be unthinkable for any teacher to offer a child any food with out checking first to see that it is safe for everybody in the room. !!!!
bye from one nutty bonkers round the twist mother.

Posted on: Tue, 11/19/2002 - 5:03am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

katiee and williamsmummy, thank-you [img][/img] Now I don't feel like Psycho Mom from Hell (or at least not about PA [img][/img] ) I spoke with my best friend to-day whose son is PA/TNA and she has written me an e-mail with her opinion (she is a member but has little time to post) and she wrote me really clear reasoning as to why a peanut free classroom, without may contains is essential for her child and also
for mine. I've asked her permission to post it in this thread and will if I get it.
Who knows what repeated exposures to peanut products in a classroom setting, whether they be blatant peanut products or may contain products actually does to your PA child? Does it sensitize them further so that you are possibly ensuring that their next reaction will be anaphylactic? Or, could a child that is not airborne sensitive become airborne sensitive due to repeated exposures?
Does it affect their behaviour? Does it affect their asthma (if they have it)?
And yes, Katiee, the "may contain" stats - they're exactly what I e-mailed Jesse's teacher this morning because she clearly doesn't understand why I happen to be so adamant about no may contains in the classroom.
I feel Jesse is at risk enough at school. It is not a peanut free school. He does have to navigate, even in Grade 2 (and in Grade 1 and lower) around the school to go to gym, the library, computer room, etc. This year, I've added karate (extracurricular) to that list.
So why take the chance with his classroom when I don't have to?
It's almost the third month of school ending here and yet there isn't one day that I make sure I am not on the phone or computer at both recess and lunch times just in case I get *that* call.
I'd really like to thank you both. You made me feel a lot better, which was much needed.
I guess I would rather put my child at risk for bullying and possible threats even than put his life at risk. Not great things to choose between but basically, what is more important?
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]
[This message has been edited by Cindy Spowart Cook (edited November 19, 2002).]

Posted on: Sun, 11/24/2002 - 11:21am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
There is nothing wrong with requesting a peanut-free classroom for Jesse. It is the only way to keep him safe. Children are unpredictable, and you wouldn't want him to accidentally take a bite of someone else's product that could contain peanuts. Even if the teacher is reluctant, you should still push ahead with it.
For the "may contain" items, it is not as easy. Some "may contain" items are more risky (ie: Lindt chocolate) as they often contain traces of peanut protein. But then there are other "may contain" items such as a "Mars bar". I ate them my entire life, even though they have said "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts" on the label for the past several years. I wouldn't eat a Twix bar (since they make a peanut butter Twix)... I don't eat Mars bars anymore, but considering I ate hundreds of them during my lifetime with no problem I would consider them quite safe, but since I do not know for sure I don't eat them anyway (no point, as there is the great Rowntree/Nestle line of chocolate).
But whether to ban "may contains" from a classroom? It depends on each person's comfort zone.
As for a high school, by that age Jesse would be old enough that I do not think there is too much you could do. At lunch time, he would sit with his friends who would know about his allergy and keep peanut products away from him.
When I was in high school, there was no such thing as a nut free anything. At lunch everyday I would sit with my friends, usually at different tables depending on what time we arrived. By that age he would be old enough to be able to safely avoid peanuts, as that is what I did in my high school.
Of course, the area you could have a good effect on is things such as:
cafeteria food - try to ensure if it nut-free/safe so Jesse can order lunch safely if he doesn't bring it from home everyday
classroom events - if there is a Christams party, etc, try to ensure that peanut-free products are used - ie: don't have people baking peanut butter cookies, etc
As for a peanut free table in a high school cafeteria, I don't think that would be necessary (plus it would be too hard to enforce as there is not much supervision in high school cafeterias compared to younger kids) as Jesse would be old enough to handle it by sitting with his friends. Plus as a high school student, he would be out with his friends in other places without you (ie: shopping centre food court for lunch, sporting events, etc) and it is good to give him the preparation for being out there on his own with friends.
A peanut -free tabel at high school also would suffer from the problem where most kids dump the lunch from home, and walk over to McDonald's anyway!!! hahaha [img][/img]
Sorry this posting may not make a lot of sense, but if you need more clarity let me know. Thanks [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 12:12am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

erik, thank-you for your comments. I really appreciated your post. [img][/img] I do know that I feel okay about my position and yet, after reading your post, I now have this question (and did anyway). If I have a "peanut free" classroom for Jesse until he finishes Grade 8, which would also not allow any "may contains" (I like how you said it was a comfort zone thing - it definitely is), how am I preparing him to enter the *real* peanut full world when he enters high school? That's my whole dilemma - how am I really preparing him to navigate through a peanut full world?
On the other hand, I can ensure his relative safety until the age of 14, so why wouldn't I? After that, I can't ensure that he will be safe at school from a great number of things, including PA. So, why not continue to ensure his safety for as long as I can?
I was glad to see this thread re-raised to-day because I was going to come in here and post anyway since my head was ready to explode after Jesse's teacher's comment this morning to me.
After numerous written communications with the woman about what was not "safe" for a peanut free classroom that does not allow "may contains", I still had the problem last week. I had two children in my breakfast program go directly into Jesse's class with "may contain" products but I didn't feel it was my *right* to say anything to the children. I e-mailed the teacher instead. She just doesn't seem to "get it" or want to "get it". Personally, I think she should retire, even though she's about my age.
At any rate, since I'm not getting a good response from her, I e-mailed the principal with my concerns and she assigned an E.A. to the classroom to check the food each morning.
This is what has always been done in Jesse's previous classes.
Friday I had a meeting with Jesse's teacher re his report card (every parent had meetings) and she asked me if I would help the E.A. go through the food. I'm not comfortable doing this at all but I thought if I'm simply helping the E.A. figure out how to read labels or detect unsafe unlabeled individual packs, okay.
This morning I go there after the breakfast program (where I had to remove unsafe cereal that had been donated) and the teacher is having all of the children put their food on a trolley that is to be taken out into the hall by the E.A. and checked. She's explaining this new routine to them and the E.A. is going around putting everyone's names on their lunch boxes.
Since they all had their lunch boxes sitting on their desks and I thought it was kinda strange that the E.A. had to marker everyone's names on their lunch bags, I asked the teacher if we couldn't just check the food at the desks. "That would be too disruptive". "It's too disruptive". I heard the word disruptive at least two times, probably three.
So, we get all the lunch bags out into the hall and I feel like the Food Nazi (or Psycho Mom from He** again). We go through the lunches and there were quite a few with unsafe items in it.
I asked the E.A. what had been done previously in the classroom (i.e., for the last bloody three months) and she said that she thought the teacher had simply been checking.
If the teacher had been checking, why were there so many unsafe products in the lunches to-day? After three months, wouldn't children (their parents really) know that certain items weren't okay?
I just don't get it. [img][/img] So, then the E.A. goes to the Grade 1 class that is also peanut free and offers to check their snacks/lunches too while I'm there to go through them with her. Well, the Grade 1 class has a routine in place (they check at snack time) and the Grade 1 class also allows "may contain" items. Have me try and explain that to the E.A. (I tried to stop her before she went to the Grade 1 class saying that the other PA parent may not have the same requirements I do).
At any rate, again, I rifled through children's lunch boxes and felt like I was invading their privacy. I'm supposed to do it all week after the breakfast program just to help the E.A. get used to this new task.
But again, what has been happening for the last bloody three months? Why weren't the children all asked to place their lunch boxes in a specific place (i.e., a table) for the last three months as part of their morning routine? Why are they just being asked now?
So now, I've "disrupted" the class even further by adding a new routine to the list.
I am just furious with the teacher. From what I saw that was unsafe this morning, all of the items were yes, "may contain", but my point again would be, if it has been clear since the beginning that no "may contain" items were allowed in the classroom, why were there so many appearing in a lunch to-day? Were parents dazed and confused because it was a Monday or were they simply never notified properly that this wasn't allowed?
I'm angry. I'm also downright bloody tired.
I'm tired of fighting with people. I'm tired of banging my head against a brick wall. For the first two years Jesse was in school, it was banging my head with the principal. Last year seemed to go well. Then, we had the summer camp that couldn't take Jesse because of his allergy. And now this. I'm tired.
Thanks for listening.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 6:13am
rilira's picture
Joined: 11/11/1999 - 09:00

Hi! Sorry I have been out of touch for so long! So much of your story sounds like our story of last year with the teacher from he**!
I too was always seeming to get blamed for adding new restrictions to the classroom. However in actuality it was holding the teacher accountable for what should have always been done.
I find some teachers view us as trying to control their classroom and not as trying to save our childs life. I would love to drop off my child and not think twice about food, soap, reactions....but that is not our life and we have to do what our gut tells us is the right thing to do for our child. Medical data, doctor's notes, and common sense dictate my daughter's school plan. Everything in her plan is 100% necessary for her. I think it is great that some kids don't need the accomadations Rachel does but they are not her. I explain to people that a food allergy is an individual thing not all people have it to the same degree or react in the same way. I continually say I can only speak on behalf of Rachel's situation.
As Jesse grows older, he will mature and be able to manage his allergy more and more on his own. As this happens, you two can make decisions together about what is in his best MEDICAL interest. I stress medical because sometimes medical decisions must be made that may not be the best "socially correct" decision.
A phrase that bugs me to no end is teaching our kids to live in the real world. This comment is usually made with reference to peanut free classrooms, parties.... well guess what! For Rachel the real world will always be a peanut/nut free world. The real world for her will always be removing herself from an area where nuts/peanuts are present.Her real world will be always carrying an epi pen and always reading labels. Her real world is different than others.
I will have a nut/peanut free classroom for Rachel as long as she is in school. She needs to have a safe zone. She needs to be able to focus on her education and not worry about the snack next to her.
I am blessed with a truly wonderful teacher for Rachel this year. My school principal is without a doubt as protective and concerned for Rachel's safety as I am.
Don't ever question your decisions because of someone elses comments or comfort zone-You know what is best for Jesse. Stay confident in your beliefs and expressing your opinions and thoughts.
A quote from your post:
Since they all had their lunch boxes sitting on their desks and I thought it was kinda strange that the E.A. had to marker everyone's names on their lunch bags, I asked the teacher if we couldn't just check the food at the desks. "That would be too disruptive". "It's too disruptive". I heard the word disruptive at least two times, probably three.
Rachel's teacher last year develop this wack-o plan for handing out treats from her treat jar.According to the teacher, Removing peanut/nut containing candy was not fair to the other kids. I was disrupting her classroom by insisting on this change. Well her plan was she kept her candy jar in another teachers classroom ,lined up the kids who got to pick candy two minutes early, walked them over to this other classroom, let them pick candy, put it in their backpack and then make two seperate lines to walk them out for dismissial! But yet I was the one disrupting the class! People will view a situation from their own perspective and we have to learn to deal with it.
Just know for this year, you have to stick to your guns and stay on top of things, keep e-mailing the teacher and the principal. Just be grateful you have a good principal because you only deal with the teacher for one year but the principal will be your ally for the rest of Jesse's days at that school.
Take care,

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 9:47am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Please don't get upset over what I'm about to say - you know me.
If Jesse has been fine even though the unsafe things have been around, then do they really need to be removed? I know that the rules are very clear, but... if the rules have been bent or broken and he has still been OK, then... I might consider revamping the rules.
Don't hate me!

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 10:21am
Carrie56's picture
Joined: 01/28/2002 - 09:00

Cindy...I am with you 100%!!!!!
My dd's Kindergarten teacher was totally uncooperative. The school made the decision to ask parents not to send in any nut products (including "may contains") but the TEACHER brought in nuts or unsafe foods several times!!! When brought to her attention, she said she didn't realize that dd couldn't even be AROUND nuts, yet she continued to bring them in. My dd is fatally allergic to tree nuts, but the teacher actually brought in a big basket of tree nuts last fall for the kids to sort! In the spring, when I THOUGHT she "got" it, she still brought in cookies containing tree nuts and served them to all the other kids. No washing of hands or tables afterwards! I lived in fear every day.
This year we are homeschooling & I cannot tell you the difference this has made in our lives.
I know what you mean about being tired - that is how I felt much of last year - just worn down. But I kept telling myself that preventing that ONE reaction made it all worth it. I know that is how you feel too. It doesn't have to be so hard - I hear so many stories about great schools and teachers and principals who handle it beautifully. And I was a public school teacher for over 20 years, so I have seen it work. But if you're unfortunate enough to get the other end of things, it can make a VERY long year.
Just keep at it & know that you are protecting Jesse the way only YOU can. And if you are the "Psycho Mom" at least know that you are not alone.
Best wishes,

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 1:08pm
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Lam,
I understand what you are saying. Jesse is a responsible and wise child who knows not to eat anything in class unless it has been given to him by his mother. So the "may contain" items are a low risk as Jesse is a smart kid and he won't eat anything he is unsure about.
A peanut product (ie: Snickers, Oh Henry, Reese peanut butter cup, etc) would be a major risk due to "airborne" reactions (as I experience) and contact reactions (on desks, doorknobs, etc) however.
Anyway, I am sure Cindy won't be mad at you. She enjoys hearing numerous viewpoints and that is the great thing about this site that everyone can say their viewpoints and listen to everyone else.
In the end, it is up to each of us to decide the level of risk to take according to each of our comfort zones.
Personally, if I had a child I would want a peanut free classroom.... as for "may contains" I really do not know...
It is hard to say...... since I don't have a child...

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 10:24pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Hi, erik!
Thanks for your message. I hope you're right.
My son has a P/TN free room, but may contains are allowed for the other students. The only food in the room is for snack - he's in K - and the teacher makes certain there are no obvious unsafe foods. If it's something my son can eat, he does; if not, I send something for him. My comfort zone.
I started out with the thought "safest is best" then changed my mind. It's not necessary - in my child's case - to request the "absolute safest way", so we don't. He is contact reactive, so if anyone in K has obvious peanut products for lunch, they wipe their hands after lunch/before they go outside for recess. If he wasn't contact reactive, we wouldn't ask for that to be done either. He's not airborne reactive, so far, but if he becomes airborne reactive our requests would change to reflect that. The school agrees with that and understands. We have had just the best school experience so far - I wish it were that easy for everyone here. Sadly, I know it's not.
The one thing that I'm concerned about with Cindy is how many confrontations she has, how stressed she is all the time. (I don't mean to talk like you're not here, Cindy! [img][/img] ) I can't help but think you (Cindy) would be less stressed if you could lighten the restrictions a bit. If it's absolutely necessary, then it's necessary, of course!! But, if not, why not make things a bit lighter for everyone.
JM thoughts. (Hope I didn't "do myself in" even more!!!)
P.S. Cindy, I just re-read your initial post here. As for how the parents would react to may contains being allowed next year... if they absolutely MUST have a reason, I'd say it's because my child is getting older and is better able to take on more responsibility re: his allergy. My guess is they'd understand and respect that.
[This message has been edited by Lam (edited November 26, 2002).]

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 11:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank-you everyone, for your comments and thoughts. [img][/img] No, Lam, I'm not mad at you. [img][/img]
I have just finished leaving the school again to-day after the breakfast club thing and checking the lunches. It became extremely clear this morning to me that the lunches haven't been checked for "may contains" for the past three months. They couldn't have been. The number of food items that I did not allow into the class were unreal. Yesterday, the E.A. substituted all of the unsafe snacks with yoghurt from the breakfast program (it can also be a snack program).
Lam, I understand what you were saying. If Jesse has been in the class for three months with obvious may contain products, then why not let it be?
Again, a comfort zone thing, but my stance is two-fold. First of all, I am extremely angry [img][/img] that Jesse's school plan was not followed to the absolute letter. It's a pretty easy thing to do since we've been doing it for three years previous to this.
Why did this particular teacher decide that she wasn't going to "get it" and not follow a written school plan? I think, for me, that's even more disturbing than the fact that the may contains have actually been in the classroom. Does that make sense?
As far as my stance on "may contains". Again, definitely a comfort zone thing. However, if I won't allow "may contain" products in my home (except for the jar of black pepper I just found) and I won't even eat "may contain" products myself and I'm not PA because of the Russian Roulette factor, why would I allow them in his classroom? I don't allow them in my home when I'm here to supervise and make sure that he is safe. I need, for me right now, to feel as though Jesse is *almost* as safe at school as he is at home. So that's why I don't want the "may contains" in the classroom.
I do have an e-mail to post from my best friend and a member that makes perfect sense to me as to why you wouldn't allow "may contain" products into the classroom. And I did raise several questions about how they actually might affect your PA child in the classroom - it's that 1 in 5 thing that really I can't let go of.
When I take Jesse to school, I know that he will be navigating through the school to different classrooms where I don't have any control whatsoever as the school is not peanut free, reduce the risk, or anything else. He has to go to the library, gym, computer room (he has the same keyboard each time), now the resource room with me for the breakfast program, and who knows where else where he could come into contact with peanut products (the playground, etc.).
So, for me, I need to ensure his safety as best I can in the only place that I have the *right* to - his classroom.
Lam, I totally understand what you mean about lessening restrictions to lessen stress. It makes sense. But the source of my stress(es) isn't really PA. Certainly last night, when I went to bed, I was going to post another question asking if anyone else was tired, but when I look at the other stresses in my life, it's not PA that sends me over the top. It's a combination of a lot of other things. It's just that when you add PA on top of those other things, then you begin to feel really weighed down (answer is to get rid of the other stressors that may or may not be controllable, not an easy thing to do [img][/img] ).
I appreciate the discussion that has gone on in this thread because I really believe it will help other PA parents make decisions for themselves and their children. Some people may be able to allow may contain products into a peanut free classroom and think, well at least they didn't have to experience the he** that I did. And others may still remain, as I now like to be known, Food Nazis. [img][/img]
Thank-you everyone for your concern, comments and caring. I'm now taking to my bed for the day (seriously).
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 11:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

rilira, thank-you! [img][/img] I think your clarification of the *real* world, for those of us with PA children was wonderful. I have been going by MKRuby's Mission Statement (not that I have been living it or adhering to it), but raising questions from it. One of them is about your child in the *real* world.
But you're absolutely correct. Our *real* world is the *real* world.
It's not like one day Jesse will be able to sit in a peanut filled bar (I actually hope, given family history on both sides he avoids bars totally anyway [img][/img] ) and enjoy. That just isn't part of our *reality* and our *real* world is I think only a bit different than other people's. Really. I haven't found too many limitations on our lives yet because of PA.
Okay, he wasn't able to attend the summer day camp this year because they had never dealt with a PA child before. But there are many summer day camps that do accommodate food allergic children now (YMCA, etc.). Your daughter, Rachel, is able to go to Girl Scout's.
What are we really NOT doing in the *real* world - avoiding peanuts and nut products and although yes, there are plenty of them and they do seem to be everywhere, I think we all lead pretty damned normal lives (well, I wouldn't necessarily call mine normal, but that's something totally different) otherwise.
So, yes, thank-you. I needed to hear that and if it meant that you didn't get to walk on the sunny beach in California yesterday for you to get that wisdom of yours across to me, I'm sorry, but it was worth it. [img][/img] That's the thing I do miss about you posting (but still think you should be on the sunny beach) - your wisdom and clarity.
We are navigating in the *real* world. Ours is just slightly different than other people's. Thank-you, rilira. Again, I really really needed to hear that. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 12:10am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Here is my best friend's e-mail re her position "may contain" products in her PA/TNA child's classroom. She did give me her permission to post it in this thread but since she wasn't able to post it herself (time constraints), I am going to take out the name of her child. I thought her reasoning for why made sense to me.
Here goes:-
My child will always have a peanut/nut-free room even if he wasn't airborne
sensitive. Breathe in the proteins enough times and presto, airborne
reaction as far as I'm concerned.
I will never allow "may contains" either for the same reasons. Too close
for comfort and too many what ifs...
My child will have a 504 throughout his school years. The purpose of the 504 is
to protect his individual needs so I can write into it whatever I want. If
the school wants to fight part of it they may, but the chances of them
winning are pretty slim. I'm lucky enough to have a very accommodating
school. NOW.
And that's that. Many thanks to her for adding her thoughts to this discussion. I called her last week when I felt like Psycho Mom from He** (re PA [img][/img] )
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 4:57am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I think that you should continue to push for the peanut free classroom and continue to ban "may contains".
The teacher has been lazy and ignored your requests for no "may contains". If you were to give in now, the teacher will assume that she can continue to act this way in the future as the parents will give in. IN a future year, if another PA child is in her class, once again she would not make any effort as she would assume that eventually the parent will give up. By you not giving up, she will realize her strategy is not working, as the principal must not be pleased to hear that the teacher has been allowing all this unsafe product into the classroom.
Since it appears the teacher has not been checking lunches for "may contain items" as had been requested by you, it appears that you can no longer trust her to be diligent in prodiving a peanut free environment so this is not the time to let down your guard. If the teacher was responsible and took the allergy seriously you could consider allowing "may contain" items, but from what I have heard so far that would be a mistake in this situation.
Since she does not take it seriously, it leaves it to you and the principal to keep it a safe environment.
Anyway, I may not have mentioned it but I am sorry to hear you are having such difficulties these days and I hope that things improve as we approach the holiday season.
[This message has been edited by erik (edited November 26, 2002).]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 5:56am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

erik, thank-you for your well expressed response [img][/img] It was really appreciated. I think what I'm finding particularly difficult is that I have usually dealt with Jesse's teacher re his PA (except dealing with the principal at the beginning of the school year with the written school plan) and left the principal to deal with what I consider more important things (i.e., running the whole school).
I've always found that Jesse has had excellent teachers that have dealt with his allergy well. For JK/SK, he had a young teacher who was, quite frankly, scared to death to have Jesse in her classroom. Yet, I trusted her implicitly. I didn't even have a written school plan for Jesse and sent him off on school trips with her without ever thinking that he wouldn't be safe. The only field trip I went on in those years was when they went to the zoo and I kinda felt I *should* go.
In Grade 1, in the previous town, he only had the teacher for two months and I'm not clear how she would have handled the allergy for the whole year. However, what she did do, was have the children help to read their ingredient labels which I felt was quite empowering to the children (and also helped their reading skills).
In Grade 1 here, he again had another young teacher, again scared to death of having him in her class, but she dealt with the allergy beautifully. There was a table at the front of the classroom where lunches were immediately put in the morning and checked by an E.A. "May contain" items were not allowed in the classroom.
By this time, we did have a school plan in place for Jesse (thanks to Peanut Trace [img][/img] ) and I believe this helped the teacher and the school deal with the allergy as again, Jesse was the only PA child in the school.
I'm a fine one to suggest age-ism, given my own age, but I really feel that the two teachers I dealt with successfully dealt with the allergy (and probably a lot of other things re school and Jesse) well because they were young. What's young? Under 30 certainly.
His current teacher, is, as I say, probably about my age or a little older. She did, in fact, teach the Mother of one of her current students. My birth-sister, upon learning that Jesse had this teacher said "she's absolutely wonderful, it's going to be great, my daughter had her for two years". Her daughter is a very creative child but also tends to find it hard to focus on what she's not interested in. And, her daughter had her 7 years ago for the two years. I think she's changed in the last 7 years and I haven't had the opportunity to speak with my birth-sister about who she considered this "wonderful" teacher.
I think she's used to running a classroom her way and quite frankly, from the list of names she has on the board every day for misbehaviour (my son's included, not to-day [img][/img] ), I don't think the way she does things is effective. When I spoke with her at the beginning of the year, she really sounded as though she had been *burdened* with several behavioural problem children that should have passed into Grade 3 but were kept back.
Give a burdened, over-worked teacher, who is also in a political situation right now (the Work-to-Rule thing) and add PA into the mix, and I think you have the same thing as you have with me. Give me all the other stressors I deal with in my life and it may be one little thing about PA that sends me over the edge. Do you know what I mean?
She doesn't want to "get it" and I will only know next year, when I deal with yet another teacher (and decipher her age) if it is an age-related thing or not. But I have to say that the young teachers, scared to death, educated themselves really well, were really adamant on their positions as well as mine about no "may contains" in the classroom and I honestly didn't worry about Jesse's safety while in their care (see Duty of Care).
So, yes, I have to work with the principal and thank heaven she is working well with me. It's just that I would prefer to work with the teacher and let the principal do more important things (like find me volunteers for the breakfast program [img][/img] ). However, I guess you do whatever you have to do to maintain what the school plan has in it.
No, I wouldn't start to allow "may contains" at this point simply because it's quite obvious that they have been allowed all the way along anyway. It has always been understood (or so I thought [img][/img] ) that should any questionable item be brought into the school, I was to be called, and I would check on it.
I don't mind ticking the teacher off by having her have to deal with irrate parents now. However, I am concerned about a serious backlash from parents who have been sending these products into the classroom for THREE MONTHS and can't now. Can you simply tell them that the teacher messed up? I don't think so. I am waiting for repercussions and not clear what's going to happen.
I have to go now and find an on-line dictionary so that my dear son can look up the word "stupid" and find out why you don't call someone's Father that. I am aghast!
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 2:05pm
KarenH's picture
Joined: 09/21/2002 - 09:00

I'm sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble with your son's school [img][/img]
I can really relate to your teacher troubles. PA or no, we all run into teachers that don't make a good match for our kids. I did find your point about the age thing interesting though. This is my belief...
Younger teachers are less set in their ways and more willing to learn and CHANGE in order to accomodate students or parents. Teachers who have been around for a long time are often very good, experienced teachers, but they are set in their ways, and are unwilling to change. Some even have no more patience left and are just killing time before they retire. Many years experience does not neccessarily make a good teacher. I'm 31-and been an EA for 10 years...and if I get to that point I hope I have enough sense to find a different profession.

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 2:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Karen H., thank-you for your response. [img][/img] My daughter has an older teacher as well for SK (she would be my age I guess, I'm not good at ages, but around the same age as Jesse's teacher). For her, I really think she fits into the good, experienced, teacher category you outlined. And for Jesse's, I really feel she does fit into the category of the no patience left, had enough of this, want to retire category. Seriously.
You said everything so well. I don't think I would be having the same difficulties having Jesse's PA *accommodated* (I didn't really use that word, just can't remember the correct one right now at this time of night) with Ember's teacher, who, as I say, would be around the same age as Jesse's.
I also think you're right on about the younger teachers. I have found and this might only be from the three experiences that I have had, that Jesse's two younger teachers dealt better with both his PA and his misbehaviour. His teacher last year was extremely creative (in my mind) in finding ways to help him focus on his work, etc. whereas his teacher this year can only think to remove his desk from the grouping of students.
Oh well. I should go and get to bed (even though everyone knows I took to my bed for some portion of to-day anyway [img][/img] ) and get up to face breakfast program and being the Food Nazi again tomorrow morning with the added stuff of all of Jesse's misbehaviour to-day.
[img][/img] Just grand.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 9:26pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Glad to hear we're OK! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 11:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Lam, of course we're okay. [img][/img] As erik said, I do appreciate different opinions about things. I can remember different threads that I've started where I've been really upset say about something that happened and members here have given me a totally different perspective on the situation and made me feel better.
I do appreciate what you said about the "may contains" and I believe I would take it into consideration if it didn't go against my two-fold stance outlined above.
Well, I did Food Nazi duty again this morning and came home feeling crappy again. To-day, there was a very angry letter from another parent about her child having to eat questionable cookies in the office yesterday with the ingredient label from the package.
It was an item that I actually hadn't made the call on, the E.A. had. The E.A. is actually a lot more strict about things that we're unsure about.
Again, to-day, we're pulling out the safe unsafe products so again to-day quite obvious that the foods have never been checked. And I'm now running into an assortment of little food items that I've never even seen before, so can't identify quickly as safe or not - for example, this morning a child had some bread sticks. I don't know what kind, I don't know anything about bread sticks. The E.A. pulled them.
The teacher that had called Loblaw's came up and spoke with me and said that she had received a different answer from Loblaw's then I did. I told her my theory about 10 different people calling and all getting different answers. I then explained that you have to call Loblaw's with the actual product UPC code. She said she's not in a position to do that. I told her that the snacks she has are okay, just not okay for the Grade 2 class.
I think, for the first time to-day, I caught a glimpse of the Grade 3 teacher. A young-ish man (30-ish?), seems enthusiastic and friendly. Here's hoping that's who Jesse gets next year if we're able to stay at this school (I'm extremely angry about that as well [img][/img] ) this whole possible moving thing again.
I know that there is going to be some backlash from the parents, as evidenced this morning in the letter from the angry parent.
I think it's the same parent that threatened to call the school board over the peanut free classroom so she must be in quite a tizzy. I feel badly for her. I really do. She told the teacher in the letter that if there were any questions about her child's food, that they are to contact her.
Actually, we've asked for it to be the other way around. If you have any questions about food that you're sending in, call me. However.
I have to go. Thanks for listening again to-day. I did tell the E.A. that I would only do this for the next two days, that she had a good grasp on it and I couldn't deal with it very well. I can't.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Wed, 11/27/2002 - 12:25am
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

Cindy - a quick question. I've been following this thread - and I may have missed it - but I'm wondering how you handle "home baked goods" - ie. when a child brings a homemade muffin in?
A friend in BC who has a PA daughter was telling me that the entire school went Peanut-free this past September - and that at first they said "No Home-baking" because of the possibility of cross contamination. After a huge uproar from parents - they now allow home-made items in - but only when accompanied by a note stating that the item is nut-free.
Is home-baking allowed in Jesse's classroom -
how do you handle this?

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:23am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

So, yesterday I don't post about my morning Food Nazi experience because why bother? It's the same as every morning this week. I feel terrible about it and I'm also upset because it's obvious it has never been done properly for the last three months. And there is backlash already.
Two women, who *normally* speak with me after school are now not saying anything other than "hi". Why? Because both of their children have had unsafe products sent home all this week. Just great.
I don't know many people in this town/city at all. Then, we move, and I get to know a few Moms on a regular basis and I know, what's the big whoop, you get to talk to them for a couple of minutes each day, but somehow it makes you feel better that you actually have someone to talk to at the school, especially when you see all of the other *comfortable* people in their cliques that you'll never be in (always the outsider [img][/img] )
Then, I get a call from the principal last night. The E.A. assigned to the checking of the food has been removed from this assignment because it was *disrupting* the class - other students who needed help with Jolly Phonics work were not getting it because the E.A. was out checking food with me in the hall each morning.
I explained to the principal that it is quite clear that the food has never been checked properly (as per Jesse's school plan) and that I feared a backlash. She said that "tempers are flying at this time of year" so I'm not clear what she meant. I know people are upset with their children's report cards (I'm one of them) and other things. I heard a Mom of kids in Ember's and Jesse's class the other day saying she's pulling her kids out of the school because it's too f-ed up.
That left Ember all day upset because the one child is her best friend. I told her not to worry about it, that the child's Mom was just upset and even if they did pull out, it probably wouldn't be 'til year-end and now with our rental house for sale who knows if we'll even be here?
Anyway. So, the E.A. gets pulled. However, the principal has called to let me know this but already has a solution, so that's great.
Another parent, who I have spoken with this week really for the first time, has volunteered to take on the task of checking the food.
This morning, I helped the other parent and the E.A. so that the other parent can familiarize herself with what food is not okay.
She is extremely okay about this and I'm quite thankful. I don't want to have to be the parent rifling through lunches. This morning, we got some comment from an older student (say Grade 7 or 8), a girl, saying something about "oh, you're checking for peanuts". I just feel terrible. Her comment wasn't a simple one, the tone was more complex and I can't explain it.
Check the food, wheel the food trolley back in. I also explained to the principal that their way of doing this right now is too time consuming and crazy (didn't use that word).
Explained that there should be a thing where the kids come in, put their lunch boxes on the trolley and then go about getting ready for their day.
The way it has been this week, they all finally get to their seats, have their lunch boxes with them, and the E.A. has been taking the lunch boxes from each desk (27 students) and putting them on the trolley. I explained to the principal that the other method worked well for 3 years and it *should* work in this classroom also - kids walk in the door, put their lunch boxes on the trolley, and get ready for their day. To me, it sounds a lot simpler and less mad than the method only being used since the beginning of this week anyway. So, she was going to look into that for me. It wasn't what was done this morning.
The E.A. mentioned this morning that perhaps a reminder note should be sent home with the students who had brought unsafe snacks in. Well, DUH. That is what is *supposed* to be done each time a child brings an unsafe snack in. I told her that I didn't think the parents were slipping up this week alone, I think they had never been told from the beginning that these products were unsafe. Otherwise, I wouldn't have at least 10, if not more children, with unsafe items in their lunches every day this week.
I did tell the E.A. that I had gotten groceries in to-day for the breakfast program and that she could sub unsafe snacks with my okay snacks.
This is all fine and dandy because yes, the breakfast program is also funded as a snack program, but why should my breakfast program have to lose all of it's yoghurt to-day (as it did Monday) because snacks had to be replaced in the Grade 2 class that shouldn't have had to be replaced?
I know parents pretty well I think. I think most of them are accommodating if you present the classroom in the right light to them and make it easy for them. To come in three months later and suddenly say, no this is not okay, well, it's not going to sit well with anyone.
And who's getting caught in the backlash? Me, already, I know. And Jesse had birthday party invitations go home this week and the two Moms that aren't speaking with me now, well, their two kids haven't responded yet.
Will they not go now? Will it be taken out on Jesse as well?
How can I express my anger towards the teacher for putting us (Jesse and I) in this position? Deluge her with paperwork, like his school plan and the Duty of Care article?
I really don't know. I already tore a strip off her re his report card and the mark he got on his reading.
Now, anyone reading this thinks I'm an absolute bi*ch. I'm not. I am so meek and quiet it's unreal. I'm 43 years old and would still be considered "shy". Do I feel like fighting with the teacher? No. I know that one other newer member had suggested that perhaps I do like to fight with teachers and don't treat them with respect when I'm speaking with them. Not the case. I have never had to fight with a teacher before to ensure Jesse's relative safety at school. Yes, I have had to fight with a principal and you know what? She finally got it and started running a "reduce the risk" school just in time as 4 or 5 more PA students entered her school. So the fight with that particular principal and all of the head banging was worth it.
This principal, I got the impression that it may be difficult to work with her, but it's not. She's the same age as me and has a child in Grade 6. She has to do the peanut free thing for another school where her children are.
This is the first year that I have had a teacher like this and it's very upsetting and stressful to me. I don't like it. I don't like fighting. I don't like being angry.
Thanks for listening and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

mae, sorry, I forgot in my rant (probably just as well [img][/img] ) to answer your question about home-baked goods.
There are seen very rarely in the lunches here apparently but here's my position on them and it must seem totally off the wall because I don't allow "may contain" items in the classroom. Items labeled "may contain" actually have a 1 in 5 chance of containing a peanut product, so to me, that's like playing Russian Roulette (note, I said, to me, and I recognize this as a comfort zone thing).
As the food monitor for the school, I am supposed to be called before any homebaked goods are sent into the classroom. However, am I? No. I have been called once in 4 years.
When there was a special party at Jesse's previous schools, I would go in before and okay or not okay any homebaked goods (we actually got relatively few homebaked goods for special parties even).
Strangely enough, I don't worry about a product that may have been baked on a cookie sheet at someone's home that they had previous made pb cookies on. If Jesse was eating it, definitely. If it was offered up for the class party, yes.
To-day, I guess because it's getting close to Christmas, I came across two homebaked goods.
I just examined them for obvious peanuts or tree nuts and then let them go. Yes, Jesse has had a cross contamination reaction (hive only) to a Duncan Hines cupcake that I made and from a box that was labeled properly apparently.
I believe what *should* be done, is that you not have homebaked items in the classroom either, unless the parent has pre-checked them with you, especially if you have a written school plan whereby you're the food monitor for the school. All of us PA parents are more than welcoming of phone calls from other parents and yet I've never gotten them.
But again, I've never seen a lot of homebaked goods coming in either.
I wouldn't *normally* allow them into the classroom. That would be my take on it, unless I had pre-approved the item to come into the class.
Why am I allowing them now? Because I'm beside myself and not thinking clearly.
If it was for a Christmas party though, I would be quite a bit more hesitant and strict. Anything I have felt uncomfortable with I have just always said that Jesse couldn't have any of it. I would actually prefer he didn't eat anyone else's home baking and I don't think he ever has (except my Mom's).
Did any of that make sense? Please let me know if I wasn't clear because I just have to go and lie down.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 2:22am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Do you (or anyone) have a reference for the fact that 1 in 5 "may contains" will contain nuts?
I have seen many posters comment on this, but I haven't been able to find the reference.
I have to speak to Adam's school regarding 500 "may contains", and I would like to back it up with a documented reference.
Thank you.
[This message has been edited by Adam's Mom (edited November 28, 2002).]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 4:27am
smack's picture
Joined: 11/14/2001 - 09:00

Admam's mom,
I brought up "May contain Nuts" in Main Discussion. That thread may help you.
Read down to where "Lam" posts.

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 4:38am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Adam's Mom, excellent that smack could refer you to the thread where I probably got the article that I have re the 1 in 5 stats. Hope it helps with your son's school.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 5:42am
KarenT's picture
Joined: 10/30/1999 - 09:00

Take a deep breath and let it out two times and smile. Things will get better, how can they get worse?!HUGS
Have you been in contact with the allergy support group in Bellville?
Can you talk to the other grade 2 teacher and see if switching would be a better option for you?
Make some phone calls around your area and find out how other schools handle allergies. There may be a better option if you had to move. (That is another story!)Tell them you are calling for a friend if you do not want to give your name. I am a friend from Kingston that would like more info on schools in Belleville (then you will not be telling a fib!).

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 7:03am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Karen T., excellent suggestions, thank-you. [img][/img] I've already been told, but then it was by Jesse's current Grade 2 teacher that he could not be accommodated in the split 2/3 class that is going on because of the provincial testing that goes on in Grade 3 and they really focus on that. I don't even know if I could ask for him to be switched - perhaps since Christmas break is coming up?
I hadn't even thought to call the other area school to see what their policies are re peanut free. Probably the same as where I am, I haven't heard of any peanut free schools or reduce the risk schools in the area because there doesn't seem to be a large population of PA people.
No, I haven't been in touch with the Anaphylaxis Support group in Belleville. I *should* be. That's another good idea.
And you're right, perhaps it wouldn't be that bad if we had to move again. I know that Jesse's old school here, in Belleville, even though he was the only PA child, they dealt with his allergy really well. The principal and the teacher. I really just hate all of this moving around. [img][/img] I think it's terribly disruptive for everyone, especially the kids and am really sad that they're in the position they are. [img][/img]
I will follow-up as you've suggested though and you know what? I don't mind using my own name. I've called many school boards on behalf of other PA parents.
I have to go, my daughter is having a bloody fit (I believe it comes from behaving like an angel all day and then coming home and she has to make up for her behaviour that I would have had to deal with all day otherwise [img][/img] )
Thanks again.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 11:11am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Thanks for finding the thread. It will definitely help when I present my concerns over this lunch being provided to the school students. Adam's school is, for the most part, very allergy aware. Two teachers have nut allergies. I believe this was an oversight, and if I handle it well with the reference to back me, there should be no problems.
Sorry to "barge in" on your thread. I was lurking and reading during my lunch break while at work, and I happened to read where you had mentioned the 1 in 5 statistic. I couldn't find the reference anywhere and it seemed the opportune time to post my question.
I am always saddened to read about the difficulties you and Jesse seem to have with this school. Adam's allergist has suggested to us in the past, that should we have problems with his school, that we should approach Anaphylaxis Canada for support. This could be another avenue you could try.

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Adam's Mom, thank-you for your caring and support. [img][/img] I did contact Anaphylaxis Canada last year when the new school in Belleville (not this one) wanted us to sign a liability waiver. I was told by the person (I can't remember her name) at Anaphylaxis Canada NOT
to sign that. Based on her information and other information I got from both members posting here at and from a group e-mail I did out, I was able to support my position really well (also with the advice of my lawyer).
It's interesting because the superintendent I dealt with last year re this is the superintendent I'm dealing with again this year and he is absolutely fabulous with me.
I had to call him when I heard the parents saying they were going to call the school board and we actually did a role playing thing where I was an irrate parent complaining about the peanut free classroom and how he would deal with it. He is very much *on my side*, if you will.
He did come to tour this school earlier in the week and rather than stepping forward and introducing myself, I just watched him go by (I am such a wimp [img][/img] ). I would have liked to have met him properly and now regret that I didn't just pop into his line of vision. However.
I think a lot of people have difficulties with their schools and they're just not as verbal about them as I am.
I know I helped one Mom last year moving from one city to a small town get her son ensured his peanut free classroom and it was simply great to talk on the phone with her. But she wasn't the type of person that would come here and tell everyone what was eating her alive. I'm glad that she felt comfortable enough being able to tell me. She lives not that far from me, far enough that I won't meet her in the near future, but in my end of the province, so it was just really really nice.
And, there are, of course, a lot of people that have really positive experiences with their schools. As I said, I banged my head against the brick wall with the principal in the other town for two years only to have a *reduce the risk* school by the time Jesse left (and several more PA children). So, it did end up working out okay, just not for us because we needed to move out of that town.
I talked with one of the Moms tonight that wasn't talking to me and explained the situation in the classroom. She's not a fan of the teacher either for other reasons and she said that the teacher probably makes the children feel really bad about what they've brought in or doesn't even clearly explain to them why they can't have what they brought in. I have to speak with the principal to see if there is even a note in place to send home with a student when they bring an unsafe snack in (there *should* be).
For some reason, even though I have to do Food Nazi duty again tomorrow, I'm feeling more upbeat this evening. I think the definite lesson to be learned from this is that at the beginning of each school year, you have to check that the teacher has a food checking system in place that is workable and that adheres to the school plan you have in place. I do know that I checked lunches/snacks with the teacher at some point, one day only, and I guess it was a "good" day where they weren't a litany of unsafe snacks so she didn't have them ALL pointed out to her (and if they weren't brought to her attention, she simply didn't get it or want to get it).
I think that's the lesson I've learned. Even if I feel it's invading another child's lunch, I should be there to check to make sure there is a program in place to deal with the food checking at the beginning of each school year and do little spot checks to make sure that it continues if I have any qualms about the teacher. Lesson learned, so a good thing came out of this for me, and hopefully for some other members as well.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:53pm
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

Cindy - thanks for your answer. I guess I'm in a funny position - because I work in the school lunch program ( I guess I'm Nazi lunch lady( not for nut-related stuff - just regular discipline things!) Also, I see on a day-to-day basis what food is coming in to the lunchrooms.
DS has opted to eat in the peanut-free room, so I don't have to worry about him at lunch-time ( even though I know granola bars, etc, are caught on a daily basis).
Yet - kids in DS's classroom bring morning and afternoon recess snacks. I do a lot of baking, because I like to and I'm a SAHM - so its also a means of cost-cutting. And I'd love to buy the tray of muffins at Costco, but its not in my comfort zone.
To be honest -I'm not usually around at recess (unless I'm volunteering) - so I don't know how many "home-baked" goods are coming in. Probably what you mentioned - one or two a day , more closer since the "holidays" are coming. "May contains" are probably there as well.
DS is has only reacted to peanuts which were consumed, but his classmate has reacted to the smell of nuts.
And, I know - a well as you know - anything home-baked is *potentially cross-contaminated*.
I think the problem is that our school plays on the *peanut-free" class rooms - yet kids are bringing in questionable item - to eat "outside" for recess - and no one is being the food Nazi (lol) - like you! Instead of *turning my back* - I'm going to have to start questioning whats going on.
So sorry to hear about all your troubles with school/teachers/principals/reportcards/landlords.... do something nice for yourself - even if its a nice long bubblebath!
Take care, mae [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 11:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

mae, we had an electrical outage here this morning and I couldn't find clothing in the dark (I know, DH has already told me I'm BAD MOMMY [img][/img] ) so the kids were 15 minutes late for school. However, this meant that I ended up not being Food Nazi this morning. I was able to check the items that they had pulled from the lunches/snacks. There was one homemade item, and again, I only looked at it to see if it had any obvious peanuts or tree nuts and then okayed it. That's what's difficult.
Another problem we had is with the wafer cookies that have cream in them. The vanilla and chocolate ones are okay and the strawberry ones aren't. How do you explain this to someone else checking the food without looking like, no pun intended, a total nut bar? I tried to explain to the E.A. and the parent volunteer and hopefully it was okay. I don't know. All I know is that if I see an item in lunches that my children haven't tried, it's probably not safe or they would have tried it by now. Do you know what I mean?
In Jesse's school plan, we do have a thing that there is to be no eating on the playground. This was looked after well last year because apparently the school had a bee problem and didn't allow eating on the playground for that reason. This year, it is a bit more problematic because there are picnic tables in the playground, especially for the older students who go up to Grade 8.
I did give the principal clear instructions about what *should* be done should older students purchase lunch off the school grounds and bring it back. Have the picnic tables cleaned (shouldn't they be anyway?). I'm wondering if you could have a no food eating in the playground thing implemented so you don't have children eating outside at recess?
To me, if the school is not peanut free and certainly even if it is reduce the risk, there is the chance that there could be a child eating a pb thing during recess and then smear residue on the playground equipment. Have I ever really worried about it to the extent where I wipe down playground equipment? No.
I did hear a horror story about a school in
Barrie that was terrorized with someone coming in at night and smearing pb on the playground equipment. It's obvious someone didn't like either the peanut free classroom status or the peanut free school status. I have always heard stories about eggs being thrown in school yards at night (why, I don't know [img][/img] ) and this concerns me for egg anaphylactic children.
It's all so touch and go. I believe in the food monitor clause whereby you *should* be asked to check ANY questionable items that are brought into the classroom, but, as you can see from my experience, it's not really working.
On a positive note, I do have to say that last year, at the other school, with Jesse as the only PA child, the food monitor thing worked out extremely well. I received calls from many parents and teachers who were doing different fundraisers and buying food. I really appreciated that. I really believe it depends on the school and the individual personalities you're dealing with.
mae, I'll be okay. Thank-you for your concern and caring. [img][/img]
As I posted above, I think a lot of PA parents experience what I do. Some just stop fighting and who can blame them and others, I truly believe, suffer in silence rather than post daily about their experiences. I do like to think that somehow by my posting and getting the great support, information and caring that I do, it will save other PA parents the same difficulties with their children's respective schools. And, if not, at least it helps those of us with difficult school situations not to have our heads collectively explode [img][/img]
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 12/02/2002 - 11:38am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy....
How are things going this week? Hope things are going better than they were.

Posted on: Mon, 12/02/2002 - 1:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

erik, thank-you for asking [img][/img] Things are no better this week at all and my head is about ready to explode. So, the E.A. is training the parent volunteer how to check the lunches and I'm there to help them. To-day, whose child has two, very clearly labeled "may contain" items - the parent volunteer's child. We just kinda laughed it off, she said her DH packed the lunch.
I had a woman approach me and ask if I was Mrs. Cook in a tone that I kinda didn't feel okay about and quite frankly was afraid to answer. She said that her family buys ALL of their food at the bulk food store and she has noticed that there are notices on all of the food saying "may contain trace peanuts".
I usually welcome the opportunity for questions or comments from parents, but I am so upset by this whole thing being played out each morning that I could scream. She asked me if the bulk food stuff was okay. I said that if it was labeled "may contain" (which she says it is) then it is not okay to bring into the peanut free classroom, that it has a 1 in 5 chance of actually containing a peanut product and it's like playing Russian Roulette in the classroom (trouble is, I don't know if everyone knows what playing Russian Roulette is).
The E.A. then started fumbling around with words telling the woman she didn't have to worry about it because her child wasn't in the class, but yes, he was.
So, we pull out all of the unsafe (i.e., may contain, no blatant peanut products) and have to replace them with snacks from the breakfast program. As co-ordinator of the breakfast program I'm able to say, okay, grab this and give it to them for snack. I send children out of the breakfast program each morning with snacks.
However, as the co-ordinator, and nothing to do with PA (it is a peanut free breakfast program), I am a bit irritated that the food for the breakfast and snack program is having to be used to replace unsafe snacks that should never have been allowed in the classroom in the first place, and certainly not three months later. Tuesday last week I went in to find my whole yoghurt supply gone.
So. I get home this morning and again I'm tired but I'm also getting really angry because I can feel the backlash already, in little things like parents not talking to me the same. I checked Jesse's school plan (thank-you Peanut Trace [img][/img] ) and yes, it does definitely say that no "may contains" are allowed in the classroom.
I e-mailed the teacher with a copy of the school plan and copied the principal and the board superintendent. I am extremely angry and upset by this. I told her that it is quite obvious that snacks have NEVER been checked in her classroom and that she had placed my child at risk. I also asked her how she would like to deal with the backlash that I am already beginning to feel and could potentially affect Jesse. I'm waiting for a response.
I also copy my best friend, another PA parent, when I send stuff to the school and she can't understand why the teacher isn't getting it and she thinks I should demand another meeting with the teacher and principal so that she does get it. I think I'll wait for a response to the e-mail.
This is all terribly upsetting to me as I try to work with people at the school and hopefully in the school community to get the breakfast program up and running.
I already dislike Jesse's teacher for reasons other than her dealing with his PA (or not dealing with it) and this simply compounds things for me.
We did walk past the closest other school tonight and I will plan to call this week (someone, please remind me [img][/img] ) to see what their policy re PA is like if they have one or if they have more PA students.
Then, the food that is unsafe is simply being sent home with the children and they're being verbally told that it is not safe for the classroom. You have bewildered looking parents outside of the classroom each night now. The one Mom whose daughter is friend's with Jesse, she asked me about the rice krispie square and I told her that I appreciated all of the label reading she was doing but that that particular item, even though it looks really clearly labeled, isn't. Well, she just bought another box, so you can imagine she's not too pleased, just as I bloody wouldn't be.
I went on to explain that it was the teacher's fault, that Jesse's written school plan had not been followed for the past three months. But does that really help us move easily through the school? No.
I feel angry and upset and want to leave the school. I hate having to physically go in every morning for lack of volunteers and serve breakfast in the breakfast program (I am a mean woman, I know [img][/img] ). I hate having to be on patrol as the Food Nazi.
I probably have felt this way sometime in the past with school with Jess, but I guess I just thought that perhaps things would get easier as he got older. I guess I always assumed that teachers would "get it" since they always have. I was probably ready or prepared for any difficulties with a principal since I've already experienced that, but I just never thought you could have a teacher from He**.
Again, as I told my best friend tonight via e-mail, if there is any lesson to be learned and hopefully other members here will learn it, make sure your child's school plan is being adhered to right away at the school, don't wait three months to find out it hasn't been because all he** will break loose and it's you and possibly your PA child that will suffer. No one else.
I did do the spot check once with the teacher but I don't know what has happened because even on that day and that would have been September month, we were not pulling out as many unsafe snacks as we are on a daily basis now.
I just feel really sad basically. Sad that the *real* world doesn't seem to be able to accommodate us as easily as I would like to have thought it could be done (heck, I've been living peanut/tree nut free for years now and our family does seem to survive). I know that when I was fighting in our previous town, another member (and good friend) told me that I was going to have to be the trailblazer of sorts because Jesse was the only PA child in the school.
So I was. And I do feel I got things accomplished there. But you know what? I'm tired now and I'd just kinda like to kick back and let my son go to school and not have to worry just like every other parent sending their non-PA child off to school. Do you know what I mean?
I know I've just done the big whine and you'll please excuse me. I will continue to fight for the *rights* of my son for as long as I can. But I also exercise the right to feel tired somewhere along the way..... [img][/img]
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 12/02/2002 - 2:16pm
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
Sorry to hear things are not working well. I think it would be best to transfer schools. Staying in that school may not be a good idea due to the backlash that seems to be developing.
I think you have a key point - that all this could have been avoided had the teacher been doing her job and been checking lunches properly these past 3 months. At this point, it is so late that it will cause confusion, anger, etc... so I would recommend a new school where you can have a fresh start, and where you can ensure that Jesse's school policy is being followed from day 1, rather than being ignored by the teacher for 3 months as this teacher has done.
I was curious about one thing you posted.. why would rice krispie squares be unsafe? I was under the impression that they were safe since they have no warning message on them (unless this has changed recently). In fact, I remember seeing boxes that said "nut-free" on them. Why would you consider them unsafe?
The Christmas holidays will be here soon.. I hope that will give you the time to relax and enjoy yourself with your family, and without all the stresses of the past weeks. [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 12/02/2002 - 11:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

erik, hello! [img][/img] The No Name rice krispie squares are what we have the problem with. Yes, they are labeled well so any non-PA parent purchasing them would think that they are buying safe products. However, after my telephone conversation with Loblaw's again last week, Loblaw's No Name and President's Choice are still off limits.
They have the bloody policy that you have to call with the UPC from any No Name product and only then can the CSR tell you if the product is safe or not, regardless of labeling, dependent on who they farmed the manufacturing of the product out to. That's why we've never been able to buy Loblaw's No Name and also why I was so pleased to hear that A&P's Equality brands are labeled properly (I'll have to re-raise that thread to see exactly what they said, but I know it was positive in comparison to Loblaw's).
This morning was interesting. The E.A. the normally helps me with the breakfast program on Monday and Tuesdays for ten minutes came in this morning and said that she couldn't, she had stuff to do in Jesse's classroom (she normally works all both days in Jesse's classroom, but is not the E.A. that has anything to do with food checking). So, she left me and I really didn't think anything of it and probably shouldn't.
But then, when I went to help the parent volunteer and the other E.A. check the lunches/snacks, the E.A. (different one than last paragraph) told me it was okay, I didn't need to stay and help this morning.
I was quite relieved but after what's going on I also have to say I'm a bit suspicious.
I'm not clear if I said something in my e-mail to the teacher yesterday about not feeling comfortable checking snacks (I'll have to re-read that e-mail).
So, I lost some help and I didn't have to help. Curious.
The friend of Jesse's had a note to the teacher from her Mother explaining the no name rice krispie squares to the teacher and how she had them for another two weeks but then would have fruits or vegetables. It was very nicely worded and she said it was because she hadn't received notice about the product being unsafe until she had already purchased more.
I can't begin to explain how I feel for non-PA parents in this situation. I feel like calling her and saying that I'll replace the no name rice krispie squares for her, but I can't afford to. I just really feel for any parent that has gone to the trouble of label reading (and I have seen those that haven't recently either) and they do feel badly when they feel they've done their best.
They have!
Normally, we send home a thank-you letter at the end of the school year but I'm wondering if I should send something home with Christmas cards this year, just so that people will really know how much I do appreciate what they do every time they shop.
I understand how difficult it is. I understand how much more difficult it probably is if you're not dealing with PA at all but are just placed in the position because your child is in a peanut free classroom. I really feel for these parents.
On the other hand, even though "may contain trace peanuts" seems to be everywhere, I feel badly for those of us who have children who are anaphylactic to more common (or what I think are more common) ingredients like milk and eggs and how the parent there must suffer greatly trying to ensure their child's relative safety in school. We've all heard of peanut free classrooms, but what about milk free? Is there such a thing? Does a child anaphylactic to milk have the same rights as my son does because he's anaphylactic to peanuts? Obviously, something I *should* raise outside of this thread.
I spoke with a Grandmother about a month ago who had a grandchild that was anaphylactic to milk. I told her I couldn't imagine the difficulties involved with that. I truly can't. Or eggs. I can't. I am thankful that I don't have to endure those difficulties and when I complain here, I do not mean to belittle others' difficulties at all.
erik, I'm still waiting for a response from the teacher and/or the principal (or even superintendent). I would prefer not to have to switch schools (but will also remind myself to call the other school re it's policy) mid year, only because I feel the kids have moved around enough already in their wee lives. [img][/img] We know that we may be moving again if the house sells (on the other hand, landlord said last night if he can get the other place rented, he'll take the house off the market - any renters out there? Actually, anyone looking for an investment property out there? [img][/img] ) and that may mean a change in schools again regardless.
The other thing I gain hope from are PA parents such as rilira, who posted about the he** she went through last year with her daughter's teacher but this year things are good. So, if you think that you are able to stay at the same school for all of your child's time there (up to Grade 8 for my guys) then if you get a teacher for one year that's crappy, maybe you just keep plugging along as she did until you get the okay teacher the following year. Do you know what I mean?
As I said, I have difficulties with this teacher that extend beyond PA. Yesterday, she told the kids that if they didn't have skates for the skating program, their parents had a week to buy them or they wouldn't be going. Well, at the last school, they always had skates that you could borrow. So, I went into the office and checked and our school actually doesn't have too many loaner skates.
However, one of the teachers took me and found a pair of skates for Jesse to use. Do other parents know to do this or do I know because I've dealt with another school and how they accommodated children last year? So, another child goes home and basically tells their parents they can't go skating unless they have skates and if they aren't able to get skates, well, the parent doesn't know any better because their child has always been at this school.
(I must be terribly un-Canadian - I don't know how to skate and even though DH has a pair of skates we never go on family outings skating. Both kids will learn to skate only by going to the skating program through the schools - yup, I'm un-Canadian [img][/img] )
erik, thank-you for your caring, support and concern. I really appreciate it. I'm quite looking forward to the holidays (the kids only get two weeks off, I'm shocked, my *big* kid gets at least three) and hope I can figure things out then. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 12:47am
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

Cindy - so sorry you are going through all this! First a question- the no-name Loblaws product you are talking about - are they the "Our Compliments" brand? We don't have Loblaws here - but I think I remember reading somewhere that our "IGA" and Loblaws were connected somehow.
As for teachers - DS had a Grade one teacher who didn't "get it". She's been teaching for about 20 odd years and from what I heard from other parents she has barely changed the cirriculum (sp? my dictionary has disappeared along with my calculator and scissors - darn kids!). I just found myself jumping in whenever there was food involved ( craft projects, cooking) and spent a lot of time volunteering in the class. DS had a stash of goodies to choose from for birthdays.
Then, in Grade 2, he ended up with a really wonderful, caring, thoughtful teacher - whose husband is PA/TNA and has other food/environmental allergies. He had recently had an anaphylactic reaction to pine nuts in a restaurant. After a couple weeks working with her - I started questioning how safe DS had been with the Grade one teacher, as I don't think she really understood the severity of the allergy!
Anyway - just wanted you to know that there are a few "gems" out there in the teaching world - as I'm sure you already know!
You mentioned that you feel the younger teachers "get it" or are more willing to learn about it. I think you're right - but DS's Grade 2 teacher would be an exception here, as is is 45. She often asked me if I knew where to get information on peanut-free classrooms/safe snack lists, etc.
Glad to hear that our kids aren't the only Canadian kids that can't skate!!! DS has tried, but won't take lessons - just wants to "give it a try" every now and then. He'd rather watch a hockey game on TV than play. DD's eyes well up with tears when we get ready to go skating - she's terrified of falling on the ice. ( She says she absolutely won't wear those "black skates" -that were her cousins. "Skates have to be pink!!!") [img][/img] I can skate but don't own skates - where I grew up, we just rented them, unless we skated a lot, then we bought them. DH can skate and enjoys it, and so do I. Maybe this year we'll get out skating a bit more.
Take care!
mae [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 1:06am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy..
So they were "no name" rice krispie squares. I understand now. I thought you were talking about the "Kelloggs Canada" ones, which are safe and even have the "nut-free" label on them. So now the parents need to find new snacks.
Kelloggs Nutri Grain bars are a good choice too, and they are often on sale for $1.99 for a box of 8 at the drug store.
There is also a new Kelloggs Special K bar, and I think it comes in 2 varieties (strawberry & blueberry?).
I love Kellogg's Vector cereal, but unfortunately I can't eat the Vector cereal bar as it may contain peanuts/nuts.
Have a good day [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 2:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

mae, IGA is somehow connected with Sobey's and also Price Chopper's. I think I have had a fairly good experience with questions re PA with them as well, but nothing as outstanding (or I would remember [img][/img] ) as the response I got from A&P re their labeling. And to me, Loblaw's who are probably the biggest chain (though not clear) in Canada, their practice of having people call with the actual UPC is ludicrous. I don't actually think they realize how many consumers they may be losing because of this. I have an Independent grocery store near to me now and also Food Basics. Food Basics is an off-shoot of A&P as well. But the Independent is an off-shoot of Loblaw's and it just ticks me off to no end that I would have to phone them before purchasing one of their no name products. To me, the difference in price is not worth the pain in the a** to me. That's why I was really pleased to hear that they do, in fact, label their new Organics line *properly*.
Thanks for the comments re your child's two teachers. It really helps. I guess, for me, I'm finding it hard because it's Jesse's fourth year in school (does everyone here know that implicitly now [img][/img] ) and this is the first teacher that I have come across that didn't want to "get it", not even in the least and more importantly chose not to follow a written school plan.
We have always had "gems" and I guess that's basically my expectation (probably not a realistic one). Jesse's JK/SK teacher was great. She left in March month of that year to go on maternity leave and even the substitute for March, April, May, June (sorry, had to type them out, couldn't add the months up in my head [img][/img] ), who I feel I have to add was also young, didn't balk at anything. Jesse remained safe in her class for the four months he was with her.
He went to Grade 1 for two months in our last town and things seemed to go well there as well. Then again, I never spot checked lunches/snacks there either. The teacher felt that the children could read their own snacks and become empowered and I thought "right on!".
Here for the remainder of Grade 1, again, another absolutely fabulous teacher. Even after their skating excursions when a parent would bring an unsafe product in for a treat, she wouldn't allow it in. And their skating excursions were considered rare and special.
She simply chose to get it.
erik, Kellogg's does have such a great line of snacks that could be used as replacements or alternatives to the no name rice krispie squares. I have been substituting them with Nutrigrain bars from the breakfast program.
I have also, in my duty as Food Nazi, come across some other fun looking things from Kellogg's - a snack type of bar that had Frosted Flakes in it (not sure of the name).
The thing is, it's "safe". Frosted Flakes, as a cereal, isn't here in Canada (it is in America and Jesse received some Frosted Flakes from his best friend in Michigan when they visited last summer), so I'm thinking it would be *good* to look for those so he could try them (same as you, erik, not able to eat the Vector cereal, can eat the bar). They do look yummy.
I personally know how difficult it is to shop when you're on a tight budget. That's why I really feel badly for parents that I know are really trying to get this PA thing right. Do you know what I mean?
Of course, I didn't feel too badly about the woman yesterday who ONLY buys bulk food because as far as I could tell, it wasn't a financial choice that she absolutely had to adhere to. I would LOVE to be able to shop bulk (I can envision a huge bag of ju jubes right now), but I can't. And I'm not saying that because I'm jealous that she can, I'm saying that you could tell she is not experiencing any financial hardship (although sometimes I very well know, people don't offer their income status on their shirt sleeves - I have been able to tell the school of 6 different children, 3 sets of siblings that *should* have invitations to the breakfast program only because I know them a bit more than the school does or the school even should).
I think that's what I do find frustrating, as a PA parent, that we can't buy certain no name products or food in bulk and we don't have the bloody money. I remember coming in here and posting about a simple grocery store experience I had a couple of years ago in the other town. I saw a woman stock up on tons of sale items (Christmas cookies, etc.) that were unsafe. I was in there with limited funds and just oh so wished I could buy as much food as she was. But I couldn't (so I came here to whine about it, what else is new? [img][/img] ) and I live with that on a daily basis.
However, I can see where it would be difficult for other people, not in a great position financially to be forced (if you will) to deal with PA when they don't have a PA child. I feel really badly for that woman who sent the note in to-day because I know where she's coming from. I may even stop by to see her when I run an errand past her house this afternoon (also I might get a cup of coffee on this cold winter day [img][/img] ).
So, when that happens, I'm simply more angry with the teacher. Give the people the information they need at the beginning of the school year, follow my son's written school plan, and then you don't have pi**ed off parents at Christmas time. How hard is that to "get"?
Anyway, enough. Thank-you both very much. I really appreciate it. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 4:47am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I just wanted to clarify one thing you wrote:
"same as you, erik, not able to eat the Vector cereal, can eat the bar"
Actually, it is the Kelloggs Vector cereal that is safe. I eat the cereal all the time. But the Kelloggs Vector cereal bars are unsafe (may contain peanuts).
Just want to make sure people don't think the Vector bars are safe.. they are not. But the cereal is fine.. and tasty too.
As for not being able to buy in bulk, you are not missing anything. Trebor Allan large bags of candy are very inexpensive and often on sale (maybe cheaper than bulk?).
I went in a Bulk Barn at Dixie Mall one time, and I wouldn't want to buy a lot of the stuff in there anywhere. They have a big bucket of strawberry jam you can scoop out, but you can see dust settling on the top of it (there is a plastic lid but a hole where the scoop goes). As well, people are walking around sneezing and coughing. And who knows how long that jam has been sitting in that bucket.. weeks? Fruit flies probably fly in it too and sink in the jam.
So you aren't missing much... buying sealed food (ie: jam in a jar) is better. PLus who knows what brand the jam is... I often find the 500 ML ED Smith Triple Fruit jam for a good price, and it is really tasty (made in Winona Ontario). Plus ED Smith is nut-free.
As for the bulk items which I would consider buying such as candy (ie: ju jubes etc), I find Trebor Allan is just as cheap and better quality (ie: sour cherry blasters, etc).
Have a great afternoon... it is so cold today isn't it!!!! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 5:28am
DebO's picture
Joined: 03/15/1999 - 09:00

Hi Cindy
I know your comfort zone is different from mine (I allow "may contains" as I have complete confidence that my own child will not eat anything not from home. Although she has reacted on contact I consider the risk of reacting to contact to a may contain item extremely low - the amount in the may contain item will be a trace amount and then the chances of her touching it when she is not eating it herself are remote. i do not purchase them for my home, but consider them low risk for school. I do think, however, that it is too late to change your position since your plan already does not allow may contain items). Anyway, that is not my point.
I am curious how education of the parents and children was handled in your school. Did the list of safe snacks go home? You should know as you should have received it as well. The list I provide is extremely detailed - and I mention the occasional surprise items that are NOT safe (like Breton crackers). If it did and you are having trouble checking lunches in the morning perhaps it is time for a reminder list to be sent home? If the school is unwilling to send it again, offer to photocopy it yourself, if necessary.
Secondly, have you had a session with the class? I always have a discussion in class with the students. I can send you my "script" if you want - essentially we talk about what allergies are, find out who in the class has allergies, what to do in the case of an allergy, how the children can help to keep Jesse safe (ie. reminding their parents not to send unsafe food, telling the teacher if they see unsafe food in their lunch, going for help if they see Jesse is having a reaction, reminding Jesse to always carry his epipen). I have found that although parents may not like the inconvenience you will be amazed at how helpful and caring the children themselves will be. I also show them the Alexander video and we discuss it. If you have not had a session with the class, ask the teacher if there is a time you can come to talk to them - you will need about 45 minutes, I would say. The presentation is also a way to educate the teacher without talking to her one on one.
My third comment is that since you have a plan in place and it is not being followed it is way past time for you to contact the school board. The Board is the only place with authority to reprimand the principal and the Board understands things like legal liability which principals and teachers do not consider. Instead of continuing to be stressed and frustrated, call the board. Ask who you can complain too when a medical action plan is not being observed in a school. I hope you will get a better response there.
Good Luck

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 6:35am
ACBaay's picture
Joined: 03/19/2002 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I'm really sorry that you are going through this disaster. It seems (since you are finding so many objectionable foods), that the parents really don't know what is OK and what is not OK to send. Perhaps, at this point, you can help the teacher formulate a letter telling exactly what is allowed into the classroom and what is not(suggest specific manufacturers and nix others that are off-limits), and include that it will be checked and sent home if not safe. Don't feel badly about products that are already purchased, they can eat them any other time of day or on winter vacation.
Also, since this is in Jesse's school plan, this should be handled correctly by the school (whether by a teacher or EA). You should not be expected to rifle through the other children's lunchboxes and replace foods that their parents sent in. I, personally, would be upset if somebody was going through my child's lunchbox (I am not criticizing you for doing it! It was not getting done, and needed to be.)
I know that it is late in the game, but if the school can communicate clearly to the parents what is expected in this classroom, and the teacher can be held responsible, hopefully, Jesse can have a safe classroom for the remainder of the year.
Good Luck,
Also, I completely agree with Eric about buying bulk. It is soooo gross!!! Anything could be in it. I'm sure new product is added on top of old product. Who knows when it goes bad. No sneezeguard. Dirty hands. Just disgusting.

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2002 - 10:10pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Do you have access to the personal information of all the kids in Jesse's class, i.e. food issues?


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