Please Help! What to say in awkward social situations re PA

Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 6:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Please help! I am a non-confrontational person and find myself struggling with what to say in various circumstances that put my 5 yr old PA ds at risk. What would you do to stay safe or say to be tactful and polite yet make your point? I'm afraid if I'm assertive I will come off resentful and rude.

For example,
At large family gathering everyone is supposed to know not to bring anything with peanuts. My Aunt-in-law leaves walnuts out of sw potato recipe to be safe, but later her daughter turns to me and says, 'I'm making my kids peanut butter sandwhiches. Do I need to wash the knife separately or can I just throw it in the sink with the other dishes?' Then later I see her carrying around the knife and licking her fingers while her children eat at the table without plates!

Another instance...we're at a high school musical. We return to our seats after intermission to find an older gentleman behind us eating what appear to be peanut butter cookies from the bake sale despite signs that clearly say no food. There are no other seats to move to...

I just can't find the right words...I don't want to alienate people.

Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 6:41am
LaurensMom's picture
Joined: 05/23/2001 - 09:00

I know what you're going through.
This is the way we handled it though there are a few different spins on it if you like it.
We invited DH's family over for brunch one Sunday and told them all we'd really like them to come as we wanted to talk about something. After everyone had eaten, we pulled out literature we got from FAAN, articles, summarized statistics of fatalities, their location and "reason". We also did epi-pen training at the same time.
We also likened PB to raw chicken and asked everyone to consider wouldn't cut up raw chicken and leave the knife on the counter, not wash your hands or use that same knife in a mayo jar.
We then informed everyone that while we loved everyone dearly, our DD was counting on us to protect her and that no matter what the event, if we felt DD was in an unsafe situation, we would leave...not matter what the, funeral, holiday, etc.
We also asked them to let us help them help us, if that make sense. By warning us in advance of unsafe situations, letting us provide safe foods and/or just understanding why we can't be somewhere.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house when we were done...including myself.
After a year went by we sent a thank you to everyone.
If you can't get everyone together, consider making a DVD or video and sending to family. If you think they'll take the time to read it, a letter is always an option too.

Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 6:54am
Greenlady's picture
Joined: 06/30/2004 - 09:00

I know that it is really hard, especially when people are not intentionally endangering your child, but if you want your daughter to be safe, you have to worry less about offending people. You only have control over your actions - if you are polite yet firm, it is not your fault if they are offended.
Remember, not only are you protecting your daughter in that instance, you are also teaching her how to protect herself.
It may help to develop a script for typical situations and practice it out loud? Maybe an assertiveness class or even something like toastmasters?
Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 7:07am
abers's picture
Joined: 10/11/2001 - 09:00

I have found it gets a lot easier over time and you find certain phrases and ways of putting things that are polite but make it clear that you need to protect your child.
For the man in the theater, I would say, "I know this seems weird, but I see you're eating a peanut butter cookie. My child actually has life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, and I was wondering if I could ask you to toss the rest of that...I'd offer to buy you a different kind of cookie, but the rules are actually no food in the theater anyway."
See what the response is...if he still doesn't get it, maybe say "I know it's hard to believe, but my child can actually die from exposure to even a little bit of peanut. That's why we always have to carry his emergency medicine with us... I certainly wouldn't want to have a visit to the ER."
After being that polite -- I would have no problem going to an authority figure if the person still wasn't listening. In *most* cases, people will accommodate you.

Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 8:35am
monkey's picture
Joined: 06/30/2005 - 09:00

nobody in my wife's family seems to take our 3 year old's PA seriously, so my usual response to things like "but he can have peanut butter cookies right?" I say no that would kill him.
they usually respond to that with "Oh" and a blank stare. Its a great attention getter.

Posted on: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 4:19am
SallyL's picture
Joined: 02/20/2006 - 09:00

I don't have any great advice since I am still relatively new at dealing with this. Just wanted to let you know I am struggling with the same thing. I have noticed a big difference in others attitudes towards her safety since getting her medical alert. They seem to just now believe I'm not just being overly protective...and I'm probably too underprotective compared to most since I am so uncomfortable saying things. I do find it ironic that they are just now thinking I'm not as overprotective as they thought. Geez - anyone can get a bracelet and put whatever on it...not that I'd tell them that.
I guess my only advice is to not worry about offending people. I think as long as you talk to them politely and calmly most people wouldn't be offended. You need to put your child's health first. (if only I was better at following this - I've always gone through hoops not to offend anyone. I need a spine! LOL)

Posted on: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 9:42am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

I have seen people with peanuts in public situations and I have asked them to please not open the bag or eat the peanuts while my son is there. I tell them why.
Once I got an eye roll from the person sitting next to the peanut person but the peanut person was cooperative and nice.
Once it was in our synagogue and my son was not there but was going to be there the next day all day. I politely asked the woman that if she brought a snack for her child tomorrow to please not bring peanuts and why, she was interested and cooperative.
If I were in your situation and a man was eating a PB cookie right behind us I'd just have to leave. My son has airborne reactions and he has left a theater before when they sold peanuts during intermission and he reacted. The chance is too great, I taught him to leave.
We never miss an opportunity to educate someone about peanuts. Recently my son's new advisor at college put a dispenser of M&M peanuts on his desk. My son told him that would not work if he was to continue to be his advisor and the guy removed the dispenser immediately. He knew about my son's allergy but did not think the M&M's were a risk if they were in the dispenser. DS just said the chances of you or someone in this office eating them around me is too great. I'd rather you used a safer candy. Worked out well.
It takes a bit of nerve and a bit of politeness on our part. With family it's different but with strangers it can be a bit daunting. We just step in and give it a go, not too many problems so far.
Good luck

Posted on: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:47pm
pixiegirl's picture
Joined: 09/11/2005 - 09:00

I think the person who said that you have to remember that you are teaching your child how to deal with their allergy hit the nail directly on the head. I don't like telling strangers and such that they can't eat their snacks around my daughter (I'm fine with family) but I've forced myself to become more assertive because this teaches my daughter how she has to be to safely manage her allergy and when I looked at it that way I was able to do it. Its still not easy but I do and and the more you do the easier it gets.
With my family I put my foot down, I told them that if they do peanuts, or peanut butter stuff while we are there we're leaving. They haven't and won't, they know I'm not kidding.

Posted on: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 9:57pm
CorinneM1's picture
Joined: 06/20/2002 - 09:00

Those are tough.
For the first one, bring your SIL into the kitchen where she is going to prepare the PPJ. Tell her that yes, the knife will need to be cleaned, but not with the sponge in the sink, but with a paper towel and ask her if she could use paper plates. I find that a sincere please along with gentle guidence is the key to not only others understanding what PA means and the precautions one has to take. At this time then also ask her if she could make sure that the kids are washed up after their meal. And you wipe down the area that they kids sat at and help with washing them up. She could put up a fight, so be prepared for it mentally. She just sounds like she won't or doesn't want to get it.
For the second one, again gently tell the man behind you that your child is allergic to peanuts and has had reactions from smells. Could he please be so kind as put away his treat until intermission or after the play is over. If he gives you any pushback, remind him that food is not allowed in the venue either.

Posted on: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 9:52am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

My mom is usually pretty good about avoiding unsafe foods, but this week she used it to manipulate me, and I am seething. I asked her and her husband, as well as several other relatives, to my house for Easter dinner. They jumped at the chance. They were away on vacation last week, but have been home for a few days now (I invited them before they left). Well, the other day, my mother calls, and says she is bringing a cake for her husband's birthday (which was a couple of weeks ago, about the time they left for vacation). I asked what she was making. She replied she was going to pick one up, at a place she knows is not safe for DS. So I say no, and she says she can get an ice cream cake. She knows full well that is also off limits. So I agreed to make one. Which was what she was after the whole time. So not only do I have to do the shopping and cleaning involved with having company, but I have to make three meals (special diets in the family that contradict each other). And I have to make a birthday cake for her husband, which she should have done herself two weeks ago! And he watched the kids so I could go shopping without them yesterday. After he left DD was telling me about how he kept complaining about how no one celebrated hs birthday. So I guess he pressured my mom, and instead of doing it herself, she just passed it on to me.
Of course, when I'm 3/4 done with the cake, I realize what I should have said. That I am too busy to make a cake, and she will not bring one that is unsafe for DS into my home. Or tell her I'll do it, then when she gets here apologize for not having enough time to do it.
I am just still really steamed over this. I mean, I know she is busy, working part time. But I work almost as many hours as she does lately, plus take care of two children, plus am putting all of the rest od Easter together for the relatives. UGH!

Posted on: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 10:36am
MimiM's picture
Joined: 10/10/2003 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Jimmy's mom:
[b]Of course, when I'm 3/4 done with the cake, I realize what I should have said. That I am too busy to make a cake, and she will not bring one that is unsafe for DS into my home. Or tell her I'll do it, then when she gets here apologize for not having enough time to do it.[/b]
I don't blame you one bit. I get so tired of always having to be the host for all the holidays and always having to make things from scratch just because of food allergies. I mean, you do what you have to do but it's nice to get some relief from this and certainly not have to take on anything extra. Your Mom should be supportive and understanding of this and shouldn't expect you to be responsible for providing her husband's birthday cake. I mean couldn't they just go out to dinner themselves and get a nice dessert and stick a candle in it? I mean come on!
Actually, suggest this for your Mom. We've actually done this for my son's birthday before. Tell her to stop at Krispy Kreme and get a dozen donuts. Pile them up into the shape of a pyramid or two cylinders. Stick some candles on the top and VWALLA, you have a birthday cake! Safe for everyone! [img][/img]


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