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

katiee and williamsmummy, thank-you [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Now I don't feel like Psycho Mom from Hell (or at least not about PA [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/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 PA.com 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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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[This message has been edited by Cindy Spowart Cook (edited November 19, 2002).]

Posted on: Sun, 11/24/2002 - 11:21am
erik's picture
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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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Sorry this posting may not make a lot of sense, but if you need more clarity let me know. Thanks [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 6:13am
rilira's picture
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Joined: 11/11/1999 - 09:00

Cindy,
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,
Linda

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

Cindy,
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
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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,
Carrie

Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 1:08pm
erik's picture
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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
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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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] No, Lam, I'm not mad at you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/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 PA.com 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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
Thank-you everyone for your concern, comments and caring. I'm now taking to my bed for the day (seriously).
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Mon, 11/25/2002 - 11:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

rilira, thank-you! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/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]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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