What do I do?

Posted on: Wed, 06/11/2003 - 4:35pm
Riss's picture
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Joined: 05/21/2002 - 09:00

It seems that school picnics and festivals are a hot topic lately. I recently suggested to the Head of my sons school to include a little note in the weekly newsletter to remind parents that there are peanut allergic children at the school and to keep it in mind while preparing their food for the potluck picnic. My feeling that less PB/peanuts the better but not intending it to be PB/peanut free. I got a note back saying they couldn't possibly do that with a list of all the other allergies at the school and then saying that other parents of PA children are not asking others to modify there eating habits for the sake of their children. I must admit that sent me into tears for the rest of the day. She appologized to me for replying by email and asked me to come into talk to her. I did today and told her it wasn't that she said no but the way she said it. She appologized again, but will not do anything saying that she has talked to teachers and about it and they say there is no way to do it. One of the teachers has a child with a bee sting allergy and said that she wouldn't expect to have the area sprayed with pesticide. Other parents of PA kids also said that they wouldn't expect any changes. The Head of School also went on to draw a comparison from the picnic to the recent music recital (where no food was served). Asking what is the difference if people are coming from dinner to an event or if you are eating at a picnic with PB? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img] Although I am not feeling as upset as I was at the beginning I am still a little frustrated about the reaction and worried about future issues. Any ideas on how to deal with this lack of support/knowledge and especially with the, seemingly, lack of support of other parents of allergic children? I don't think they understand just reducing the risk helps.

We are skipping the picnic this year but next year will set up our own "safe" corner of the picnic with friends who "get it". This is probably what I should have done before hand but, alas, hindsight is always 20/20.

Posted on: Wed, 06/11/2003 - 11:39pm
river's picture
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Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

I'm so sorry that your principal is a complete idiot---okay that said....
There are things schools can do and do do to decrease the presence of bees around the school.
There are things schools can do and do do to decrease the prescence of peanut butter within the schools. The very least of these is to ask parents to try not to send it in lunches.
Perhaps the other parents of allergic children would also like to see changes but are told the same thing that you are.
You could keep trying to bombard the principal with printed information about such things as statistics regarding PA reactions in schools, recommendations by honest members of the medical community, information on the things other schools in your country are doing to deal with this new and growing problem. It doesn't sound like she's ever going to listen to a parent but she may take information from outside sources seriously.
You didn't ask for much at all, and it's a shame your principal reacted in that ignorant manner.

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 12:07am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I, too, am distressed to hear of the school head's reaction to your very simple request. First of all, I think she really doesn't "get it". Have you ever given her any written materials in the past? I wonder if she honestly does not understand the severity of pa and the pretty inconsequential (in terms of disruption to others) ways that the school community could work together to help keep pa kids safe.
I also think she was very unprofessional to discuss what a teacher said about her child's bee sting allergy. She really should be focusing on how she can try to help [b]your[/b] child's needs, IMHO.
I'm sure it is especially upsetting to feel so alone. I wonder if what River said may be true: maybe some of the other parents of fa kids [b]would[/b] like to see some changes made.
How are things for your child, otherwise, at the school? How do they help to keep him safe during the day? I would, quite honestly, have a very hard time having my child at a school with a principal who had such an unhelpful attitude.
One of the things that continues to amaze me is how some school communities rally around to help keep allergic children safe; while others act like "it's your problem" and won't do a thing.
Also, how can the school head fail to see that there is a world of difference between a school concert (without food!) and a school picnic?!
I wish you all the best at dealing with this sad issue. {{{hugs}}} Miriam

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 12:12am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I just saw, from your profile, that you are in Washington state. Now I am even more floored! Can you show the school head some information from the Spokane school district? I understand that they have come up with some very pro-active allergy policies after the most tragic death of Nathan Walters on a school field trip. Take care, Miriam

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 12:38am
Riss's picture
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Joined: 05/21/2002 - 09:00

Thanks for the kind thoughts. Ironically they keep my son very safe during the day. His class is peanut free and the teachers are great. They seem to have been open in the past [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img] It seems that some backtracking has been done and unfortunately I was so dumbfounded by some of the comparisons that she made that I couldn't make any sort of intelligent reply. I guess I feel kind of distressed because it was sort of put back on my parenting choices.... She worried about how much my son was going to miss out on activities because I wouldn't let him go to the picnic (it is a family thing so we would be there too and therefore we would be able to look out for him - he is almost 7). AND this is all after I have put in many, many volunteer hours at the school.
I love the school and the school community (we have some wonderful friends) so I would really like to get past this.

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 2:35am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

Ugh! My heart really goes out to you. I have two images now: the rug getting pulled out from under you and then getting punched in the stomach! Sorry for my cliches, but that is what comes to mind. Double ugh!
I'm glad that you have good friends there, though. I hope that somehow the school head will realize how unfair she is being to your son. The truth is that - depending on his level of sensitivity to exposure - he may very well end up missing out on a lot of things during his life. One thing he should not have to miss out on, though, are school events. How sad. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] Miriam

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 10:37am
Riss's picture
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Joined: 05/21/2002 - 09:00

THANKS!! It is nice to have support from other places (other than family and close friends) to know that I am not over-reacting. I feel much better now. Time to take a deep breath and put it aside for a debate another day.
Anybody ever thought of starting a thread of intelligent answers to stupid/hurtful statements made by people they are dealing with?? Then we could have a cheat sheet to carry around with us when we get shocked/dumbfounded/tongue tied.... [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
[This message has been edited by Riss (edited June 12, 2003).]

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 11:44am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm having a hard time getting past your first post. That comment about the bee stings is the [b]stupidest thing I ever heard[/b]. My son is allergic to insect bites/stings. His school bans peanuts.
We went on a field trip to a conservation park. I'm pretty sure they don't spray the area - it is a conservation park after all. And no, I didn't ask them to.
I did spray an insect repellent on my son. Does your principal happen to have a peanut/pb repellent for you to spray on your child? I didn't think so.
Sorry, about ranting about your problem. It just irks me that someone could be intelligent enough to be a principal, and stupid enough to make a comparison like that.
Also, sorry I can't offer any help.

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 4:19pm
tgab's picture
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Joined: 06/24/2000 - 09:00

I don't think asking parents to send other foods for that day is asking too much. It is only a request after all. They could send a letter to the bees, to please not attend, or to the parents, to please not let their kids bring bees to the picnic, but I'm not sure that it will work. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Unless the other food allergic children are at risk for anaphylaxis by touch, their arguments hold no water. They should be willing to send out the letter, since it doesn't hurt anything, and would mean a great deal to your family.

Posted on: Thu, 06/12/2003 - 11:57pm
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

tgab, I LOVE your comments about the bees. I, too, have been thinking how nonsensical the bee argument is. People are not going to be bringing bees to the picnic!
Riss, perhaps you may want to bring this up to the School Head when you do feel like banging your head against the wall, yet again.
Good luck, and remember that you have us all behind you.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Miriam

Posted on: Fri, 06/13/2003 - 12:56am
Riss's picture
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Joined: 05/21/2002 - 09:00

Thanks all, for your support!
It is the day of the picnic and it is raining [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] We are planning to do something special with our son and daughter (who incidentally has a dairy allergy, and has just grown out of her egg allergy) instead.
Next time we talk to the school I will be more prepared for a negative reaction and have my arguments ready. I honestly didn't think it was a big deal. I don't know if my son is contact sensitive but he has come home from school on several occasions with notes from the teacher saying that they gave him benadryl after he had hives. This was after he had been in a different part of the school - his class is peanut free. I did report these occasions to the Head.

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