So we went to church...

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 12:20pm
ahensley's picture
Joined: 08/23/2005 - 09:00

on Easter Eve (we go to a big church so they have lots of different services) and this is what happened. I know for the big holiday services there will be a substitute teacher in my DS's Sunday School class - I arrive extra early to make sure I have plenty of time to discuss DS's food allergy, how to use Epi-pen and go over the snack (which I provide for the whole class so I don't have to worry about him eating something else on accident).

Well, about 3 hours after church... the cough "the cough" started... so I ask DS (who is 4 1/2 years old) if he ate anything else besides the DARE cookies I sent. He said "yes"... What... he said yes...arrggh! I asked him what he ate and who he got it from, he said it was pink candy and his teacher gave it to him. So now I start to freak out a little, give him some Benadryl and call the Sunday School coordinator at 9:30 pm to ask what candy he could have been given.

Now this Sunday School Coordinator is really great, she is helping me prepare a food allergy cabinet for the church, assisting me in training new teachers on Epi-pen use etc.. Well, before DS came in the class she told me she handed out candy to the teachers to give to the kids as an Easter treat. She said she gave out Sixlets and Willy Wonka Big Candy Bag from Coscto... so after 30 min of showing DS pictures of candy online, we figured out it was a box of Nerds. Well, it should be safe.. "should be..."

After I got off the phone with the coordinator, I just cried - because I was so scared... what if it had been peanut M-n-Ms.. my DS just ate it without questioning it at all. He didn't tell me he ate anything besides the snack - I had to ask him and even then he didn't know what type of candy it was. It could happen so easily, someone gives him something unknowingly... I feel like I can't take him back to church, even though we have been going there for years. I feel like I want to go to a super small church where every one knows not to feed him anything... or should I just put huge orange stickers on him that say "Don't feed me"

I am thankful it was only Nerds, but I have trouble stopping the what ifs... I just wanted to share my story. I spoke with my son and explained again how he cannot take food unless mommy reads the label first - with tears in my eyes - I asked him, "What if that had peanuts?" He got scared and I don't want to scare him, but how do I get a 4 yo ornery little boy understand he can't take candy...not even from the nice Sunday School teacher...

I am so sad. I was so scared. I feel like I can't trust anybody - its not their child, they won't get it. All this happened after a wonderful week at Disneyland where we ate out almost every meal and it was such a safe environment. What a shock back to the reality of the real world.. I hope the 9:30 pm phone call of a frantic mother helps put perspective of the seriousness of food allergies. I know it was not the coordinators fault, but what else can I do to make a church of 10,000 get it? That's why I feel like it would be easier just to go to a small church, but I guess it could happen anywhere.


Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 3:32pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

i'm sure you are relieved it was a candy that was safe but this was a good lesson for your child that he must not eat without checking with mom first from now on. this has happened to us so many times (in fact, so many that we no longer attend church or other similar activities...that's not the only reason we don't attend church but it was one of the reasons initially). there were just too many variables every time we went. my kids have learned over time that they are not to eat or handle foods given to them by others unless they have recieved the okay from me. of course now that they are older, 11 and 8, they can read labels for themselves and occasionally have something without checking with me first - but only if it's packaged and they 've read the label themselves. usually they will only eat things they have eaten safely before (and even then they read the label just to be certain nothing has changed).

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 10:42pm
notnutty's picture
Joined: 03/15/2004 - 09:00

I am sorry you had to go through such a scary thing, especially around Easter. We have recently began going to a new church (after about 8 months of searching). I think that putting your trust in someone is very difficult, whether in a church or school setting. Perhaps you should only bring him to the Sunday school class when the regular teacher is present. Maybe that would help mistakes from happening. Would they let you hang posters around the room reminding them there could be a child with food allergies and to make sure they don't feed the children anything except for the food provided?
It will probably take you awhile to trust these people again.

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 10:43pm
Ree's picture
Joined: 12/31/2004 - 09:00

Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry! I've gone through this with my 5 yr old with speech. I've been thinking about making stickers that have "ok'ed by mom", like the size of a penny. Put them on everything you let him eat outside of the house. Tell him he can only eat the ones with the stickers. I know there's pitfalls to this, like if the sticker comes off, but what else can you do? I'm not sure. My fear is someone giving him a PB oreo and he thinks it's plain... ugh.
Here's some comments I received that might make you feel better:
- It worked out ok, b/c the candy was safe...use this as a learning opportunity. Thank God it happened so you can teach him the right thing to do! Maybe this was a sign that you dodged something bad down the road!
- All kids are taught not to go to strangers, right? Do you know that 95% of the time they go to strangers! Don't feel bad about your child taking the candy. Work with him to try to avoid it and pray that they will say no, but don't put that on your child or yourself. Until they're 9 or 10, it shouldn't be their responsibility.. They're only a child. It's the adults responsibility.
Again, I'm so sorry! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 11:12pm
lalow's picture
Joined: 03/24/2004 - 09:00

this is difficult. my ds is 4 and he too has eaten things that people give him like popcorn or cookies when i havnt been there to check it. i will find out afterward. i keep trying to stress to him that he can not do this but it is difficult for them to understand i think. we go to church often and everytime we go i go over with the teacher exactly what they can have in front of son but like in your situation they still sometimes give out other stuff. i dont have any answers but know how you feel.
James 5 yrs, NKA
Ben 4 yrs, PA and MA

Posted on: Tue, 04/10/2007 - 12:26am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

joeybeth said it. Start teaching your son to never eat anything that another person hands him. Give him ways to refuse politely. And have him check with you. If you are not there he just plain ordinary can't eat it. Practice this with him by role playing.
We teach our kids that molesters say "your mother told me to pick you up" and to not go with them. So our kids also have to learn that no matter what another person says the food they are handing you is not safe. Unless he sees the box of safe food you provided and sees his treat coming out of that box.
Or maybe (and this is tough) he can learn NO treats anywhere, just from mom or home. You reward him later for refusing a treat.
It is tough learning for a little guy especially when that pink piece of candy is waving in his face but it's necessary.
Reward him when he does this right. Or even when he tells you he did it and you were not there. Little toy or something. It's all part of what he has to learn. It's not easy.
Good luck.

Posted on: Tue, 04/10/2007 - 2:49am
AuntAmanda's picture
Joined: 01/20/2007 - 09:00

Wow, that's so scary. I'm so sorry that that happened to you. [img][/img] Big hugs sending your way.
I just released from my church's nursery and tried raising awareness of FA in my church as well. It was like pulling teeth!
I know that another poster mentioned that she puts pictures on all her child's snacks so that he/she can recognize that the snack/food is for them. Perhaps this might be something you could try for your little one? Have you thought of having a course to train each of the teachers about FA? Perhaps show a video?
The cabinet sounds like a great idea! Good luck to you! And I'm glad to hear the little guy is alright! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 04/10/2007 - 3:08am
gvmom's picture
Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

[b]I am so sad. I was so scared.[/b]
I believe it! I am sorry that this happened to you & your little guy.
[b]I feel like I can't trust anybody - its not their child, they won't get it.[/b]
I don't mean this in a bad way, but you should remember this sentence of yours. Remember it as a statement of fact, and the starting point for how you decide when you leave your child in the care of others, and who those individuals are. Your child is 4. While he should know, he is 4, and it is up to the adults in charge to be his caretaker. Assess their ability first. If it isn't there, don't leave your child with them.
[b]All this happened after a wonderful week at Disneyland where we ate out almost every meal and it was such a safe environment.[/b]
Part of what made it safe was that you were there. You said, "[b]WE[/b] ate out almost every meal..." The "WE" is the key word. You were there to be the filter for your son. I know that at Disneyland there are nuts everywhere. It is that you were there to help be your son's advocate.
Had you been at that classroom with your son, in a "WE" scenario, he wouldn't have gotten something that you didn't look at first right?
I don't mean this as an indictment on you either. I just want you to see that the part of the equation that made Disneyland more safe was the factor of you being there.
[b]What a shock back to the reality of the real world.[/b]
Had the same person that handed your child candy at church, been the person who took your child to Disneyland, they probably would have handed him something prohibited there as well -- and he probably would have eaten it.
You have to remove elevating people to trustworthy, or more so, or even in part, just because they are in certain places that one thinks denotes a higher standard --- like church, schools, family gatherings, etc. They are still people. Plain and simple. The same standard should apply no matter where your son is, and it should be applied to the adults...... not to your son.
Would you have trusted the person at the church to take care of your son at Disneyland?

Posted on: Tue, 04/10/2007 - 3:37am
ahensley's picture
Joined: 08/23/2005 - 09:00

Wow, and thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I am definetly going to do roleplaying with him (and the stranger one too!). GVMOM - thank you for helping me to read between my own lines. This person as church, as sweet as she was, was a stranger and why would I trust my child to a stranger that doesn't fully understand how serious food allergies can be. Of course I would have not trusted her with my child at Disneyland and that makes a lot of sense that my child was safe at Disney because I verified all of his food with the chef preparing the food. I have mixed emotions about going back to church - I love my church and the message my children and I get there - but is it irresponsible of me to leave my child with someone who doesn't get it - I guess so. His regular teachers are more aware, but one time when I forgot the Epi-pen at home, I sent my husband home (6 min drive) to get Epi-pen and I stayed in the classroom with him until Epi-pen arrived - during this his regular Sunday School teacher asked "Does he really need it with him all the time? He can't be without it for an hour?" I went on to explain that he could die etc. I thought I had already been very clear about that.
I guess the good news about my church is that even before this happened - we are making signs to hang up in every classroom some very basic first aid and s/s of anaphylaxis and how to use an Epi-pen. I am writing the allergy part of it. Awareness is happening - and hopefully this small step will make somewhat of a difference to the well-being of our children with food allergies. I am motivated to help make the necessary changes, but also overwhelmed with the amount of continual new Sunday School teachers and the teachre meetings are only voluntary (since they are all volunteers anyway).
Thank you all for the great suggestions. They made a great deal of sense.

Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2007 - 3:23am
4 my girl's picture
Joined: 11/02/2001 - 09:00

I think this was a good learning lesson for all. My daughter is 9 and still learning. I always remind myself that noone else needs to be obsessed like I am. Our church has been trying hard to be peanut free for 7 years (for my daughter) and still mistakes happen. In fact a sunday school friend had a birthday party, and I failed to remind her mom about the allergy thing (why nag I thought, she knows, her daughter knows, my daughter knows how to take care of checking) Well we learned the hard way that reminding is never bad. One scoop of ice cream later (Bunny tracks with peanuts)the party was ruined and the girls traumatized, my daughter held to the ground, shot in the leg, left in an ambulance. I felt terrible but it was a lesson none of us will soon forget. And honestly the very fact that she lived through it gave me a sense of relief. I wish you strength and peace.

Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2007 - 9:57am
smudgesgarden's picture
Joined: 02/26/2006 - 09:00

not to sound sarcastic or anything like that at all..
this is exactly why im the sunday school teacher, and when my son gos to the nursery every sunday i tell jill ( nursery lady) no food that hasnt come from his back pack.
for easter the sunday school co-ordnator called us and asked what safe candy she could put into baskets, we told her a few and told her where to read on the lables and to please give us the packages , she did and there was some brands i didnt know so we tossed the candy even tho it was "safe"..
what you went thru is my nightmare. truley.
i wish i had good advice, i wish this didnt hapen because it makes you start to think about all the what ifs and your "safe" world begins to crumble around the edges...
dont go crazy with the what ifs, and like every one else said, teach im to say no to people offering him food. just have him say no thanks, i have a food allergy and i need to check with my mom first. thats what we are teaching our son. thoe he dosnt say it 100% of the time but hes starting to get it.
best of luck


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