\"So I Should Start Sending His Granola Bar In\"

Posted on: Thu, 02/06/2003 - 11:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yesterday, I'm waiting to pick up the kids at school and one of the Moms that I talk to says something about how she has heard that anyone with "may contains" in Jesse's classroom is allowed to eat them outside of the classroom. She goes on to say that her son really misses his granola bars, that they are his favourite and maybe "I should start sending his granola bar in with him" if he's going to be allowed to eat it outside of the class.

And she says it all to me, the parent of the peanut allergic child and her friend.

Jesse's written school plan says that no "may contains" are allowed in his classroom.

Since the teacher didn't check for "may contains" for the first three months of school, obviously, they were in the classroom for three months and Jesse was okay.

I had posted about it here and I was strongly thinking about removing the "may contain" clause from Jesse's written school plan and may do so for next year. Then, Jesse had the anaphylactic reaction at school that was not handled by anyone at the school well.

So, is this a big deal or not? A community of parents that know if their child brings "may contains" into a peanut free classroom that doesn't (or shouldn't) allow "may contains", but the child isn't physically in the classroom eating them.

What I find disconcerting about this is that we're talking about 7 year olds. I have seen children, as young as 4, with Jesse's previous peanut free classes learn compassion and caring about another child's life simply by respecting the rules (if you will) of the peanut free classroom.

I have seen young children empowered. I have seen them proudly tell me how they try to keep Jesse safe. 4 year olds. Then, of course, 5 and 6 year olds.

I don't know if I should approach the principal about the continuing "may contains" or not.

I already don't know what to do after I received Jesse's class newsletter yesterday and saw that he has two trips this month and a Valentine's Day party. Usually, whenever he has had a class party, I go in and check the food. Well, with his teacher considering anything I do *harrassment*, I'm afraid to broach the topic with her.

I spoke with Jesse about the party last night and he asked me if I could come in and check the food like I've always done. I asked him if perhaps he couldn't check the food and then simply not eat anything. It's different for him, for me not to be checking the food.
On the one hand, that's okay because he's getting older and should be taking more responsibility for his allergy.

On the other hand, he just had an anaphylactic reaction at school last month and I can only begin to imagine what the poor guy is thinking.

I was going to speak with the principal about the two trips (parent designated supervisor thing) and the party, but trying to figure out even how to do that.

Should I just leave the "may contain" situation the way it is and just hope and pray that Jesse will be okay even though it is against his written school policy?

If the child is eating "may contains" outside of the peanut free classroom, of course they're not physically inside the classroom.
But where do you draw the line? What about allowing children that bring blatant peanut products into school to eat them in the hall as well? What kind of mixed message is being sent?

I'm just really disheartened. As I say, I have experienced 3 really good years of Jesse in school (yes, I may have had difficulties with the principal in JK and SK but it did get worked out) and I have seen how a peanut free classroom can do positive things for the non-PA children in the class. I think the positive things that they learn - caring, compassion, empowerment are really great things for young children to be learning.
We have also always thanked the children and their parents in some way at the end of each school year so their efforts don't go unnoticed or unthanked (is that a word? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] )

I'd appreciate anyone's comments.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]


Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 12:16am
river's picture
Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
This is really a tough call.
Do you think that Jesse's exposure happened in the classroom or somewhere else in the school, as I understand that the school itself allows pb?
"May Contains" is such a tricky one because non-pa parents have such a hard time understanding it and trying to avoid it. From my experience, they don't adjust too well. Also, most of them really do not believe that there are peanut traces in 'may contains'. They think that the labelling is just for legal reasons.
Also, there must be many 'may contains' coming into Jesse's classroom but have no labels.
Maybe---and only if you feel absolutely/mostly certain---you could give way on the may contains. Maybe have the children who bring them sit at a separate table and wash afterwards?
Definitely open the lines of communication regarding the parties. You have to make sure the food is okay. I don't think that Jesse is old enough yet to be sure of everything. What if someone brings in a bag of cheap dollar store candy that was manufactured in China but had not 'may contain' on the label. Would he know that this was a high risk food given where it came from?
If the teacher is allowing a child to eat something outside the classroom, she is setting up Jesse for a bad situation. I don't think this could continue, but if you approach it with some level of compromise, Jesse may come out the winner and you too.

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 1:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

river, thank-you for your post. I could add a long winded response right now, but I think I have one question that pops into mind, for you, and then I'll post later.
I understand what you're saying about the "may contains" in the classroom and how that is difficult for non-PA parents, especially the ones that aren't labeled (i.e., no name store brand ones).
What I still can't comprehend, to this day, is how we managed to successfully have a peanut free classroom without "may contains" for three years (JK, SK, and Grade 1) without all of this confusion, resentment, people not understanding, etc.?
How was that able to happen previously, and especially in the lower grades where it may be a parent's first foray into the school system with their child, and now, in Grade 2, it's become something that is just SO difficult? Why the difference?
I, personally, don't understand. The only thing I can think of as being the difference is Jesse's teacher and I guess how the school, on a whole, has handled the whole situation.
Even though I had difficulties with the principal of the school where he went for JK/SK, his teacher was wonderful.
Last year, I didn't have difficulties with the school at all, with either his teacher or principal. I actually considered the school we were in last year a lot rougher and tougher and expected more backlash from that school (I'm not clear that I was right about that one though - I mean the rough and tough part).
So, what happened? Why does the "may contain" clause seem so impossible this year?
Also, why do you feel that it could be harmful to Jesse if the children with "may contains" have to eat outside of the classroom?
river, I think the biggest difficulty I have with this is Jesse's anaphylactic reaction last month. It's not only how I'm not dealing with it well, a month later, but I did discuss with Jesse whether or not we should let the "may contains" in the classroom or not. I saw fear in his eyes, river. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] He can be a pretty logical kid and when you explain 1 in 5 chance, yadda yadda, and the other kid washes their hands really well, etc., he might "get it" if it didn't have to do with his allergy. He may even "get it" as far as his allergy if he hadn't had that reaction last month at school whereby no one (even him) knew that he was having one.
Sorry, I guess I had two questions for you regarding your post and I ended up long winded regardless (which I know you knew I would already [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] )
You do know that I appreciate your advice greatly. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 2:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Sorry, Jesse's reaction. You're right. The school is not peanut free. It has no labels regarding peanut free, reduce the risk, whatever. There is one other PA child in Grade 1 (whose parent has what I personally consider the strange emergency plan for the child).
Jesse's reaction occurred that morning, I believe in the Resource Room which I use for the breakfast program. It was probably to something he ate in the breakfast program or to residue in the room. It is the room where children go to study during the day and work with E.A.'s if they're having difficulties.
We use the big round table that seats about 8 and there are several other desks in the room as well. I'm fairly clear that that is where it happened.
Other than that, the only other thing would be again, residue, from Jesse physically walking from the breakfast room down the hall, turning right, and down the hall to his classroom.
No, not in his classroom at all. I do believe, when he told me that he had a sore throat in the breakfast program, that he was starting to suffer the symptoms of a reaction already so I'm pretty clear that it didn't happen in his classroom.
Although, with a caution, the sore throat in the breakfast program, and then him having to leave his classroom to ask for puffers for chest constriction, could be two different things. He simply could have had a sore throat in the breakfast program.
This reaction, because it was anaphylactic and progressed what I consider SO slowly, really troubles me. I still have the principal asking me off and on if I knew what caused it. Um, your school. No, I don't say anything but I can't figure out why she keeps asking me because I truly don't have a clue (unless it's sesame seed allergy newly developed).
So, with that cautionary addition I made, if the sore throat and chest constriction are unrelated, the chest constriction didn't happen until he was in his classroom.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 2:05am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

It's starting to sound to me like all the little details were not ironed out before hand. I think there needs to be a whole new meeting, starting all over. It seems to me that things have gotten very blurry.
As for the "may contain" thing... where do the kids keep their lunches? Are the lunches not even allowed to enter the room? If this is the guideline, then no 'may contains' are allowed in the room, period, no matter where they are eaten. However, if the lunches are kept somewhere in the room, then I can't see not allowing the 'may contains' when they will be eaten elsewhere, like the lunches.

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 2:52am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Lam, I had thought all of the details were ironed out before Jesse entered the school this year. Because the principal doesn't come into the school until the week before school starts, a meeting has to be set-up then. I met with the principal and went over Jesse's written school plan.
I do have to say that I didn't get a good feeling after leaving the meeting with the principal (and I probably posted about it here [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ).
She is new to the school this year and because a written school plan is so unusual in Canada, it was probably the first time that one was ever presented to her.
I did have the opportunity that week to also speak with Jesse's teacher, but it was extremely casual and during that time, when I think about it, she made a couple of remarks (i.e., substitute cashew butter for pb) that should have told me that she really didn't "get it".
This is only the second year that I have had a written school plan in place for Jesse. Last year, at the first school in the old town, I went over it with both the principal and the teacher. Then, when we moved in November month, I again went over the school plan with the principal and the teacher. Perhaps that's what went wrong this year? I only went over the written school plan with the principal. I *have* to go over it with the principal because that is the person in charge and I'm not clear why the teacher wasn't included at that meeting (perhaps not available?).
That might very well be where the problem started. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
Okay, so I ask for a new meeting.
The "may contains". I have to whittle that out.
The lunches are kept in the classroom on the children's hooks or in the cubby holes. Once they are brought into the classroom, the parent volunteer takes all of the lunches and goes through them looking for any "may contains", which, if it had been done since September, you wouldn't see that many of still coming into the classroom. However, as you know, they weren't checked for the first three months and all the mayhem that has ensued, so there are still children that daily bring "may contain" products into school.
I can set-up another meeting easily enough.
I think perhaps that's a good idea, especially because I was just thinking of e-mailing the principal and asking her advice on how to approach Jesse's teacher re the upcoming party without the teacher considering it *harrassment*. Maybe ALL of this needs to get ironed out again.
Somehow though, in all of that, I feel like BAD MOMMY somehow, as though it was ME that screwed this up for this year and yet, aside from the teacher not being at the meeting (and again, I'm not clear why), I really don't think that's the reason.
I honestly thought that by having a written school plan in place for Jesse it would lessen difficulties at the school because they have a written document to refer to. Yes, it did work well last year, so perhaps it did help to lessen difficulties.
He didn't have one for his youngest years away from me, JK and SK and he seemed to do fine, as did the parents in the community, the other children, and the teacher with the requirements, which also meant no "may contains". I just don't get it.
One thing that really sticks out in my mind about his JK/SK teacher. I found out that Pillsbury Slice and Bake cookies were "may contain" and they were not labeled as such in Canada at the time because they were imported from the U.S. (for anyone reading this thread now, Pillsbury Canada does appear to be safe again as does Pillsbury U.S.). I approached his teacher because I knew they would be something that would be sent in for the Valentine's Day party. I said that it would be okay for them to be in the class, even though they were "may contain" but just that Jesse couldn't have any.
She was more adamant about it than I was. No way was a "may contain" product coming into her classroom, even if it hadn't been labeled as such. She sent out a special note to parents telling them that the Slice and Bake cookies were not okay.
Who knows if the poor young woman didn't do it because she had admitted to me previously that she was "scared to death" to have a PA child in her class? I don't know. Or, after dealing with it for a year, did she really "get it"?
I remember seeing her now when they would go on field trips, patting her shoulder where she had Jesse's extra meds and really letting me know that it was okay as I stood to watch the bus pull away and then was there for the bus coming back. I trusted her implicitly with my wee guy.
His Grade 1 teacher in Stayner he only had for two months so I'm not clear how she would have been for the whole year.
But again, his Grade 1 teacher here, was absolutely fabulous. No "may contains" in the classroom. Tim Horton's Timbits were bought by a parent for after one of their skating excursions and she let the other children take them home. She wouldn't allow them in her classroom.
I appreciate your advice about another meeting. I will do that. I just need some more information or thought before I decide about the "may contain" clause.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 3:42am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

river: i share the same thoughts as you regarding the "may contains" in the classroom, i think. if i could be guaranteed that they would keep peanuts, peanut containing foods and high risk items out of my childrens' environment i would gladly accept the trade off that "may contains" could be in the school and classroom. my child knows not to eat or touch anyone else's food anyway. so far, we've never had a reaction to someone else's "may contain." however, i would want the school NOT to serve "may contain" items at lunch unless we had arranged in advance that i would always send her lunch (which i would be happy to do. again, the trade off would be worth it to me). i would just be happy to get rid of the very biggest risks and let my child learn to adjust to the very minor ones (as long as she knows how to do that). having said that, though, if another child in the school had a proven problem with "may contains" being in the environment, i feel that i would support that child's family in trying to eliminate them. so far, we haven't felt the need to do that though. i think i would get more cooperation from everyone in general if the "may contains" were not eliminated. we've learned to live without them in our household but i do think it might be hard to get other people to accept that. (especially when we've already asked them to give up their peanut butter, reeses, snickers, etc..) i hope that doesn't offend anyone at all. like i said, i'd be willing to support whatever as far as bans go, as long as the peanuts are definitely out of there. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] for the time being, i'd be satisfied with the known risks being removed. of course, known risks might be different for each child according to their sensitivity. joey

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 4:53am
Gail W's picture
Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

i'm just throwing out a couple quick thoughts as I'm running out the door:
1. Does your written plan stipulate when you will meet throughout the year? Because my school read that FAAN recommends to meet 3 (I think) times a year, they agreed to PRE-schedule 3 meetings during the year. Meetings traditionally have been scheduled for the week before school starts, early February (before Valentine's day), and toward the end of the year. These meetings are like "check ups" and we review/revise our IHP. (If we have any "big" issue, we ask for a separte meeting.)
These built-in meetings have been a huge help for me because I know I'll have a time to bring up issues or just points-of-information. (I was accussed of "harrassing" my dd's 1st grade teacher with frequent e-mails... so this allows me to delay bringing up non-essential issues until the meeting.) I keep a log of any PA activity and then decide at the meeting what I'll bring up...
2. Can your teacher from last year help you now? She sounds like she could be such a great role model. Yes? I went to my dd's former Kindergarten teacher when I had probelms with our 1st grade teacher and she actually offer to attend any meetings. That never happened, but the school nurse also came up with this same idea later on and now invites the teacher from the previous year to attend the pre-scheduled meeting in August.
My heart goes out to you. you are so loving/caring in your posts, and I wish I had more suggestions to offer you.

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 4:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

joeybeth, great post! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
I went in to see the principal on my way to run another errand this afternoon and asked to set up a meeting with her and Jesse's teacher to review his written school plan.
I also asked her about the party for Valentine's Day and how she thought I should approach the teacher about checking the snacks. She said that she would check with the teacher for me. In some ways, this is great, but on the other hand, I know it ticks the teacher off even more when she knows I've spoken with the principal about something before her, like going to her boss first instead of her. I can understand that. However. We'll see what happens.
When I had the thread running Pondering Stuff about School (or whatever [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) the major consensus was that I should remove the "may contain" clause from Jesse's written school plan. I did have a couple of members, however, that were quite adamant that they not be allowed in and they had very good reasoning as to why (I'll re-raise the thread).
I think what this really warrants, before I can make a decision, is a conversation with Jesse. Jesse is 7. He knows not to eat anyone else's food. Yesterday, he went to the child's next door for an hour to play with his sister. I told him before he left that he wasn't to eat anything because when the child comes over here she often stays for dinner. He said "I know" and not in a sad tone or anything, but just something that is a given.
Jesse is at the age where he can begin to take responsibility for his allergy and that would mean knowing that other children in his classroom are eating "may contains" and that he is simply not to share food.
So, after the advice in the previous thread, I was going to remove the "may contain" clause.
Then, Jesse had the anaphylactic reaction at school. I think it surprised him because I think he thought that he would know when he was having a PA reaction and he didn't know and then the school didn't deal with it well anyway.
He did stay home the following day from the breakfast program where we suspect the reaction originated and I simply came back home and took him to school a couple of minutes late. I could understand him not going right back the next day. However, on the Wednesday, he was right back in there and has continued to be with me every morning, except last week when he had the flu.
He sees me wash the table down each morning and he trusts that the food he is eating there is safe.
For example, this morning, I ran out of the bread we had been using. I looked in the freezer and there are a few donated loaves of bread, all from a bakery, which I, personally, would consider unsafe. I told Jesse that I would continue making toast for the other children in the program but he couldn't have any from those loaves and he understood why.
However, last night, when I was asking him about the Valentine's Day party and whether he could check the food rather than me, I could see the fear in his eyes.
I know it's there for me. If I happen to say a harsh word to him during the breakfast program, I make sure that I go to his class to wave good-bye to him. I just have this sickening feeling and have ever since the reaction. I know that he's probably going to be okay and I know I'm probably suffering some type of post traumatic stress syndrome because of the reaction.
So, what about Jess?
If he currently knows that his peanut free classroom is *supposed* to be as safe has his home, how will he feel if I suddenly say, no, we have to let the "may contains" in? He knows that children are going out in the hall or to the principal's office to eat their "may contain" snacks and I think he's okay with that. They're away from him.
If he hadn't had that reaction at school, I think it would be totally different. I think I could take out the "may contain" clause, especially since it wasn't adhered to for three months anyway. But what about Jesse and an increased stress level?
And again, I have to question, especially with your really well written, thought out post, joeybeth, how did we manage to do this for the first three years of school and do it successfully? What all of a sudden has it become problematic this year? I don't understand.
Personally, I think, simply because of Jesse's reaction this year, I should leave the "may contain" clause in for the remainder of the year and speak with Jesse over the next few months about how we will be changing his school plan for Grade 3.
I cannot even begin to imagine what a child thinks when they know they could go around the corner in their school hall, come across residue and end up having an anaphylactic reaction. How does he truly feel about having a designated keyboard at computer class? How does he feel in karate class when other children eat their lunches, some of which may contain pb (I'll have to ask that one again tonight)? And how does that add to his stress level?
If he hadn't had the reaction, again, totally different ballgame. Unfortunately, he did. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 4:58am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Gail W., we were posting at the same time! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Now, I have to dash across the street to get the munchkins.
Your post was really thought provoking and I would like to respond to it *properly* later.
Thank-you for your really kind words at the end. Very much appreciated to-day, another low feeling kinda day for me. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/07/2003 - 5:26am
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

Cindy, my heart goes out to you and to Jesse, yet again. I definitely agree that another meeting is in order. Preferably before Valentine's Day. I like Gail's idea of the three pre-scheduled meetings. I don't think Jesse should have the burden of checking the party food. Also, you are not "bad Mommy" at all. It is this teacher who has made your life into a living h**l. I think that in your meeting you should raise the very legitimate question "why did this plan work for three years but is not working now?" Good luck. My heart is with you. Miriam


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