Why can family be so stupid????

Posted on: Fri, 12/14/2007 - 3:34pm
SuziQ's picture
Joined: 12/14/2007 - 17:45

Sorry this is a long story but there is a question at the end.

We went to my brothers house 2 days ago after the funeral for my 94 year old grandmother for lunch with all the family and friends that attended. I was at his house the night before and checked some of the labels on food so I would know what my kids could eat the next day because my SIL makes it a point to make it difficult for me to check labels - she refuses to keep them!!!! I have had friends willingly root through the garbage to find labels for me! THere was a can of mixed nuts with peanuts in the stuff for the lunch. I spoke to my brother and asked him what I thought was a reasonable request to please not put the peanuts out for the lunch. He gave me a look like I asked him to rip out his spleen with his bare hands and he said "we always have nuts at our parties". I reminded him that his nephews with severe peanut allergies are going to be there could he please just not put out the peanuts, anything but peanuts. He said just tell them not to eat them. I pointed out that I have 2 year old who has no clue that he has allergies and a 5 year old that recently licked food off the floor at our church despite being told not too(fortunately it was just popcorn but I nearly killed him!!!)and it would just be safer not to have peanuts out. I watch my kids like a hawk when we are out but I have 4 and in a crowd there are lots of distractions and left over food setting everywhere. He pretty much dismissed me, so I asked my mother to talk to him (she paid for all the food anyway!) but I dont think she did she had other things on her mind, it was her mothers funeral after all.

So we go to the lunch and there are the peanuts out on the kitchen island with some spilled out onto the counter of course (not to mention the Reese Peanut Butter Bells on a coffee table where my kids can also reach. I was livid. My SIL and her family were nearby so I waited until they left the kitchen and took the dish of peanuts and dumped it in the trash. My SILs mother (who was present the night before when I talked to my brother) must have been watching me because she came out of nowhere screaming in my face at me about how dare I do such a thing. I do my best to stay calm but I lost it I. I yelled back at her that she had no idea what she was talking about and that just one nut could kill my kids. My brother then joins in. We are pretty quickly separated, SILs mother leaves the party and I stay on top of my kids for the remainder of the afternoon and dont talk to either my brother or SIL. The nut dish was quickly refilled by someone with almonds. Could they not have just put the almonds out in the first place??????? I felt like it was such a deliberate slap in my face to put the peanuts out when they had a safe alternative that they could have done, not to mention that nuts really are not essential to a party.

My parents were not at the house yet when this all happened but my brother and SIL meet them on the steps and told them heaven knows what about the whole thing, like they needed to know!

When we leave my brother follows me out to the car and starts yelling at me to apologize to his wife. I point that I spoke to him about this the night before and that strangers take better care with my kids allergies then their uncle and that our friends bend over backwards to make events safe for them. He said that I exaggerate their allergies (their 13 year old son has said to me at another occasion that I should give them a little peanut butter, its not that bad!!!! wonder where he gets that from!) Since the can of nuts was more important to him then the safety of my kids I told him we are never going back to their house.

My parents said I overreacted (what else was I suppose to do with the SILs mother yelling in my face???? I am only human!)I was not trying to cause a scene, I was only trying to safe guard my childrends lives...ooh wait thats being dramatic.

I am shaking with anger in relating this days later!!!!!! Sorry I just really needed to vent.

[b]Here is my question was dumping out the nuts wrong? [/b]In hindsight I should have sent my husband in first to determine if there were peanuts and then just never have gone in. I would have been really hurt to have been excluded from that aspect of fellowship in mourning my grandmother but as it was I am really hurt by the ignorance of my brother, who is actually an intelligent educated Commander in the Navy (their change in station in the spring cant come soon enough for me!!!)

Posted on: Fri, 12/14/2007 - 5:25pm
TJuliebeth's picture
Joined: 03/30/2005 - 09:00

I don't know that is was the right thing to do...but it's completely understandable...I think most people would have a hard time keeping their temper. I'd have lost mine at "We always have nuts at our parties." Your brother obviously doesn't understand what a peanut allergy is.
My daughter is extremely allergic to peanuts...When I find myself in situations where she could be exposed to peanuts, I have found it better to just leave. Sometimes this will shock a person into taking the allergy seriously...this is the case if they just don't understand the severity of the allergy...Other times, they don't care and you know that person doesn't have your best interest at heart...you may want to restrict that relationship.
Also, in family situations that you feel obligated to attend, you can call ahead to see if there's going to be peanut products there...if there will be, you can either not attend or leave the kids at home with your husband...(the good thing about this is you will be asked by all the other relatives where the kids are and you can pointedly say "We had to leave dear son at home because he's allergic peanuts here and it would be unsafe for him to be here." This will inevidently spark many conversations about the seriousness of a peanut allergy. At the very least this will educate some and maybe the next gathering will be peanut free.)
I don't know how close you are with your brother...but if you want a relationship with him and his family, maybe you could get a card (NOT to apologise...just to let him know he's important in your life) and send him information on what peanut allergy is. I used the video "It Only Takes One Bite" with all my family and babysitters and followed up with a demonstration of how the epipen works, stressing how huge the needle is and how awful it was to rush my daughter to ER, not knowing if she would make it.
Hope this helps...you're not alone...

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2007 - 12:44am
maphiemom's picture
Joined: 12/01/2005 - 09:00

It is so difficult to see families will not make concessions for children with these types of allergies, they doubt us, that is why I always tell the stories of those children lost to peanut/nut allergies, it is so important to show it can cause death , I am extreme to ensure my child doesn't have small reactions that bring her closer to that lethal exposure, people seem to understand bee allergies but really doubt nut allergies, why is that .
The first Christmas after my daughter reacted her Opa put out peanuts at her level, he was suprised to hear she could die if she ate one, and was more than happy to remove them , the entire family checks all things for nuts and peanuts before we arrive, after us making reminder calls well in advance, my brothers wife will not allow any consumption of peanut butter (a very popular treat at their house) for three weeks prior to family gatherings like Christmas. I find you really need to be careful with family, on a trip to visit my very ill Opa we stopped at a truck stop , where my mother and brother purchased huge cookies full of nuts, I said that they could not eat them in my car where my anaphylactic daughter sits daily , they had NO CLUE that that would pose a problem, I said in your car fine in my car no way , I keep nuts and peanut trace away from my child as much as I can after seeing two scary reactions due to trace. It drove me crazy why choose the cookie full of nuts.
This is why I say education is the key.
I totally understand why you dumped out the nuts, you knew if you put them away they would find their way back, I get it , you knew they don't get i t, you were protecting your children , what do they expect, try to educate them find Emily's story , it shows just how careful and prepared we all need to be.

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2007 - 3:52am
Christabelle's picture
Joined: 10/03/2004 - 09:00

I love that you dumped the nuts. They represented death to your child. I would end my relationship w/ brother and sil.

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2007 - 4:02am
ctmartin's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007 - 09:00

First of all, I am so sorry you had to go through this ... at a gathering for a funeral, no less! Isn't it sad that not only do we have to battle strangers about the severity of our children's food allergies and the importance of keeping them safe, but our own family members?!
I'm sorry, but your brother's behavior was simply unacceptable! Both above posts gave good advice, and I agree with the post that mentioned leaving the kids at home (if you can) so then you will have to explain why to everyone else (make your brother look like the insensitive fool he is acting). I don't know if dumping the peanuts was "wrong" but I would have done the same myself and a whole lot more!! The problem is that after the conversation the night before, I think you probably knew their feelings on the issue, but it seems you went ahead with your plans to attend HOPING (and why not??) that your brother would care about your kids' safety.
At this point, you have to step back and ask WHY your brother chose to serve peanuts. Was he under a tremendous amount of stress and didn't want to deal with changing his menu (however simple that would have been)? Is he simply not educated enough on the severity of food allergies??
If he is moving in the spring, then I'm sure your time together will be more limited, which is probably for the best. Until he is willing to ensure your children's safety, I would think it best not to be around him at all (at least in his house)

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2007 - 5:49am
rudysmom's picture
Joined: 07/23/2006 - 09:00

I wish I knew. We've been through something very similar with my brother and sister-in-law. We now just say that we will bring all food for Annie and ask that they not serve nuts. While the birthday party today was cancelled because of snow and ice, they seem to be making more of an effort, but it took a major blow up and several months of silence. Quite frankly, I actually felt like I was mourning the loss of a relationship with my brother because of this situation. I had come to terms with the potential loss, however, because my primary job is to keep my daughter safe and alive.

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2007 - 8:07am
bhcassidyjj's picture
Joined: 06/01/2007 - 09:00

I love it...you are my hero. I would have done the same thing. The only other thing I might of done different is after discussing it with him the night before and seeing how much he didn't care I would have organized my own gathering, inviting all of the same people and explaining why I was doing this instead of attending my brothers. Since he seemed to be more interested in entertaining it would have been interesting to see his reaction when some guests chose to go to your house instead, and even if no one came at least your children would be safe and you would have gotten your point across... But then again, I am a very spiteful person when it comes to people not taking my child's allergy seriously. Luckily I haven't had to suffer with as much ignorance as you seem to have to. I wish you all the best...

Posted on: Sun, 12/16/2007 - 8:28am
gatorgrrl's picture
Joined: 11/14/2007 - 09:21

You've gotten some great suggestions on what to do. For me, after the conversation the night before, I would also not have brought the kids and explained to all and sundry why. :-) If I had brought the kids with me, I would have left immediately, telling my brother that he's made it impossible for me to attend a family funeral because he will not for whatever reason keep peanuts away from my peanut-allergic children. It sounds like you're going to have to take a hard line with him which may risk the relationship. But if he's going to continually put your kids' at risk then it's better if they just know him through phone calls!

Posted on: Mon, 12/17/2007 - 5:17am
tampafamily's picture
Joined: 12/16/2007 - 15:33

no one understands the situation until it is their kid involved. We live 1200 miles away from our family and it is a real relief because everytime we are together there is a similar situation to the one you described.
I am a well known tyrant on telling my family to keep their home nut free while we are there, but I walk in their house and there is nuts in the salad.

Posted on: Tue, 12/18/2007 - 2:39am
sugar's picture
Joined: 10/18/2007 - 06:44

Was dumping the nuts wrong? Yes. You discussed the situation beforehand and got an unsatisfactory response. You decided to go anyway (and understandably so) even though you knew that they didn't understand and basically told you they would NOT respect your wishes. Throwing away someone's food would be wrong in ANY situation, alleriges or not.
I won't rehash the suggestions you got, since you got good ones above. But I do think you were wrong to react the way you did, especially given the history of how your family treats peanut allergies.
ETA: I just wanted to say I don't think you were wrong for being angry- you should have been. Good luck.

Posted on: Tue, 12/18/2007 - 7:14am
gw_mom3's picture
Joined: 02/14/2000 - 09:00

I probably would not have gone in the first place or not taken my kids (since there's no one I can trust with my kids, I probably would have stayed home). When ds was first born, dh's parents were having their 50th anniversary. I was still pregnant with ds when they were in the planning stages. At one point all 4 of us had the flu - both girls (age 3 and almost 2) had to go to the hospital to get shots because they had high fevers of about 105 and we couldn't get them to go down. DD1 had to go to the ER for it. DH was very sick and I was pretty sick too even though I had a flu shot (I wasn't nearly as sick as the rest of them but being 8 mos pregnant probably didn't help either). As a result we weren't able to go to the 'meetings' that they held at the time (didn't want to spread our colds/flu around) and dh's sister said since we didn't care to show up we must not care about what they serve. BTW they knew we were all sick.
So she and dh's older sister (also not understanding) went to sam's club with my other two SILs and bought a giant tin of mixed nuts. Both other SILs said it was a bad idea and that they shouldn't buy them. The others didn't care. When FIL found out he told them they were not putting out the nuts at all. SILs (two oldest ones) were so mad they didn't speak to us or their father for years. One is finally starting to talk to him (my ds is now 8 yrs old so it has been that long). I think the other one only speaks to him when she wants something. They barely speak to us still. I didn't end up going to the party anyway-ds was only about a month old at the time and dh is not too great about helping me watch the kids at gatherings like this and there was no way I could tend to my newborn plus watch both a 3 yo and a 2 yo to make sure some "well meaning" guest didn't slip them some unsafe food. DH went alone and no one was speaking to anyone anyway-all because they couldn't put out their stupid nuts.



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