Son Upset with Peanut Free Table in Lunchroom

Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 12:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It was my understanding that there was a "peanut free" table set-up in the regular lunchroom where all of the PA children ate. I explained this concept to Jesse.

Turns out that the "peanut free" table isn't a table, it's a bench set up over heaters in chairs are placed against the bench for the children to sit on to eat their lunch. But it isn't in the lunchroom with the other children in the elementary part of the school, it's with the middle grades, grades 6, 7, 8.

Even then, the children in those grades are sitting at regular lunchroom tables, by grade and able to sit with who they want.

Jesse came home yesterday and he told his Father that the peanut free table was okay. He later told me that he didn't care for the peanut free table because his friends (or even his sister if she so desired) isn't allowed to join him at the peanut free table. Only the PA children can sit there and they can't bring any buddies.

So, this morning on the way to school I asked Jesse if he would feel okay about asking his teacher if his friend had a peanut free lunch if it would be okay if the other child joined Jess at the peanut free table. No, it wasn't.

To-day he said that there were a couple more kids at the table and he had made one friend (oh, there was the comment there yesterday that one child had PA but he couldn't die from his PA).

He comes out tonight after he's gone to bed (and I guess he's whirls like I do) and asks if I can come in to have lunch with him tomorrow. Apparently, if I can go in and have lunch with him, then he can eat in the regular lunchroom.

I wanted his Father to know that Jesse was having a problem with the peanut free table so I asked him to go and talk to his Father about it. His Father brought up a very good point that Jesse probably isn't going to want his Mother in eating lunch with him.

I had asked Jess if he could wait out the week, see how the week goes at the peanut free table.

DH spoke with the lunch monitor of the school to-day (he's our building superintendent) and apparently the PA children are NEVER allowed to eat in the other lunchroom. They have to eat at the peanut free table that's set-up.

The literature I got from the school yesterday (first day) was quite extensive with regard to PA and to me, they're running a "peanut free" school or at least "reduce the risk".

But here's the thing I think and Jesse's Dad thought as well. He's only in the lunchroom, segregated eating for a small period of time (not clear how long it is, will have to check) and then they go out for reason. So, perhaps better to be "safe than sorry"? I don't know.

Or, with a "reduce the risk" school, is it even necessary to have a "peanut free" table or if one PA child chooses to not sit there, what happens? Can the child choose not to (I'm thinking liability and thinking no, they have to sit where they've been asked to).

I just felt SO bad tonight because Jesse was crying. Now, he has made some friends at the "peanut free" table, but he also has friends in the regular (if you will) school population that he'd like to be able to eat lunch with.

This morning I had said something about perhaps I would speak with the school about it (to get a better explanation and also to explain how Jesse is feeling) and I got such a horribly negative response from DH (I can't even post what he said here because I am still upset about it [img][/img] ) that I'm not clear if I should say anything.

At any rate, I've asked Jess to go the week and see what happens and if he's still feeling not okay by the week-end, we'll sit down and discuss it and I'll set-up a meeting with the school.

It is social isolation because it's not a table set-up at the end of the other tables, it's a completely different set-up in a completely different age group. But he does have other PA children at the table.

What do you think?

Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]


Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 12:37pm
momma2boys's picture
Joined: 03/14/2003 - 09:00

Cindy, wow, I'm not sure what to tell you. On the one hand, it is a new school and you want them to understand how serious it is and they sound like they are really trying to make it safe. So you hate to go in and say anything to make them think it is less serious than it is.
On the other hand, you don't want to see your child miserable everyday either.
One thing I would like to point out, because I know Jesse has had problems with this before. Last year my ds started out eating at the end of the regular table and all of a sudden he wasn't eating, saying his stomach hurt and he wanted to eat in the classroom with his aide. What we finally found out is he was terrified of eating in there with kids eating peanut butter.
So, since he does have some friends at that table you may want to discuss with him whether or not he would be comfortable being around pb and other may contains, etc. He may not really be thinking of that right now. Better to find out now, before you ask if he can sit in there and it doesn't work out and they think you are crazy when you ask for him to go back where he was.
I hope it goes better the rest of the week. Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 1:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

momma2boys, thank-you. [img][/img]
It's late and I've had a long day for a variety of reasons (like the toothache that isn't a toothache [img][/img] ) and I want to get to bed.
I'll post both the letter that went home to every parent in the school yesterday along with a separate bulletin in the newsletter. To me, it read as a "reduce the risk" school.
So, if the school is "reduce the risk", which, to me, means that few students will be bringing peanut products and will be reminded to refrain from doing so (and also, Jesse's class is "peanut free" regardless so his classmates are not able to bring peanut products), why the need for a segregated peanut free table?
In fact, why the need for a peanut free table at all except for closer supervision (it is also in a room right across from the office)?
I shouldn't be bi*ching because this is almost to the other "extreme" (if you will - I don't care for that word right now), but I have never seen a school that has gone this far to ensure my son's safety.
Okay, so I'm not personally bi*ching.
I just don't want Jesse to feel socially isolated at a new school.
Or then, as I posted even in my first post, do I? I mean, he's only at the table for how long? But then lunch would be your real social time at school, certainly not during school hours.
I will use the points that you made to speak with Jesse when he tells me how he feels on the week-end.
And the other thing is, do I meet him for lunch one day just so he can sit with the other kids in the lunchroom?
I just feel sad tonight, those big brown eyes, great eyelashes all wet, that I can finally see because I got his hair cut tonight (I had thought he was going to grow his hair long again but no, he changed his mind when we were in the salon and this stylist took the longest anyone has ever taken for a hair cut, it was great and inexpensive), crying. [img][/img]
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 2:15pm
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

Oh boy. [img][/img] I do not like the fact that he is so isolated at lunch. It seems wrong that he can only sit with other pa kids. Segregated and wrong.
I do think you should go in and talk to the school. I think that in a very nice way you can let them know that so very much appreciate how careful they are about keeping Jesse safe. At the same time, you want him to be able to make friends and not be unduly isolated because of his pa.
Certainly he ought to be able to have friends with peanut free lunches sit with him. Also, how sad that he is actually out of the cafeteria where the kids his own age sit. [img][/img]
I don't like it at all.
I am so glad that Jesse is making friends. I hope you can get through this little hurdle and everything will be better.
Ignore dh. [img][/img]

Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 2:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

California Mom, thank-you, always the voice of reason tempered with a LOT of compassion and caring. [img][/img]
I know that there have been classes where all of the FA children were put in the same class (the one I keep posting about that katiee's non-PA child was in last year).
I began to comprehend, only because I had to, the concept of a "peanut free" table, but I honestly thought it would be a table at the end of all of the other tables (as I have even seen outlined in 504 Plans, and Yonit, if you're reading this, thank-you for your 504 Plan as well where it was wonderfully outlined), but at least it's still with their classmates and they're able to talk, but just be separate.
As far as I can tell, one other child in Jesse's class is PA and sits with him. The other children, it would appear (but I'll have to ask Jess) are older.
I've been very slow getting things in order at the school this week for a variety of reasons, but I think what I need to do, and gosh darn it, I'll drag DH with me, is go and check out the lunchroom set-up and how our one child is eating in a totally different situation than our other child.
My DH is GREAT about PA, but he's always let me deal with school issues. I once asked him what would happen should I suddenly drop dead and he said to just make sure that I have a member's e-mail address somewhere anywhere for him to find, that I trust, for him to get in touch with, for guidance re school issues.
I don't even think I'm going to post what he had to say to me this morning because it was SO wicked and so untrue and I think the real source of the comment was his Mother (my MIL, obviously).
I think the best thing for him is to come and see what's going on at lunch time with me and because he is home right now during the day, perhaps participate in school things with me that have to do with PA (or my medical concerns re Em - her migraines and how I want her teacher to know about her recent eye surgery) and have him see how I actually interact with the school.
He has seen it before, but it was when Jesse was going into Grade One when I was presented with the liability waiver for the first time and my adamant refusal not to sign it.
I also think he gets the impression that I deal with school personnel the way I deal with him and it is SO not true. I am quite passive in dealing with school personnel (except for the time after Jesse had the reaction at school and I had the meeting with the principal and his teacher and I totally lost it and SCREAMED at the teacher).
When I walked into that school last week and they were willing to run with my written plan, it was like wow, would you do this for my son? Wow! I am SO thankful.
We were going to try to get this space sorted tomorrow (how wonderful it is to have your bed in your living room [img][/img] ), but I think what I'll do is make sure that around lunchtime he's walking over to the school with me just to check things out.
Otherwise, yes, I have the tendency to ignore him when he's being a complete and utter a**hole (or I tell him to leave and go and stay at his Mother's - she's still away and she lives just down the block, so go stay there and get away from me before I hit you over the head with something! [img][/img] )
Thank-you so much for your post. I appreciate it.
I do think, dear woman, despite the differences in our ages, we are very much alike - perhaps twins separated at birth and by a few years? [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2004 - 10:53pm
e-mom's picture
Joined: 04/23/2000 - 09:00

Sorry Jesse is going through this. [img][/img] The school does sound like they are doing a good job of "reduce the risk" however, what harm would it be if you asked them if the table can be moved closer to his friends?
How much older are the other kids sitting at his table now?
What about just going in and checking out where he sits during lunch time. He doesn't have to know you are there. It would help to know this before actually discussing anything with the school, IMO.
Big hugs to Jesse! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2004 - 1:24am
Sarahfran's picture
Joined: 06/08/2000 - 09:00

This sounds a lot like our situation, only worse. We too were promised a peanut-free table and found out on the first day they ate lunch at school that the table wasn't in the lunchroom but out in the hall. I posted about it here, concerned like you that the set up would be socially isolating (a particular concern since my DD also has a social/pragmatic speech delay and *needs* as much social interaction as possible).
After meeting with the school I found out that there is another PA kindergartener who sits at that table and each child can bring a buddy (as long as their lunch is safe), so there will be four kids at the table (a nice number for my DD). Additionally, the speech therapist will join Claire for lunch once a week to help her in the unstructured social situation. It's still not ideal (hell, let's admit it, we want our kids to be normal, safe, and happy and sometimes we just can't have everything we want! I want her allergy and her speech delay problems to just go away) but I think it balances pretty well the need to keep her safe and the need for social interaction. She's o.k. with it as well, so I'm not going to pursue it further).
I think you could come to a similar compromise with the school. I think they should move the peanut free table (or add one) to the elementary lunchroom (young children eating with middle schoolers seems like a bad idea to me in general) and allow the allergic children to choose a friend to sit with them. Given that the school is trying to be peanut-free anyway, it seems really crazy to segregate these children so thoroughly.
Good luck!

Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2004 - 5:34am
b and c's picture
Joined: 09/03/2004 - 09:00

What?!!! I agree with California Mom. We are in the school all the time. My Wife is a fixture, the students know her on sight.
We have a table in the middle of the lunchroom, and our son gets to pick someone to sit with him ( as long as they don't have any nuts in their lunch).
Settle for nothing less! And when I say table, I don't mean a bench.
It sounds like they want to do the right thing, but you will have to guide them. The school will listen to your input, as long as you are calm. Thank them for their efforts on your son's behalf, but than offer your suggestion on how it might work out better.
That's enough from me.
[This message has been edited by b and c (edited September 09, 2004).]

Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2004 - 2:14pm
ALLERGYMOM's picture
Joined: 10/09/2003 - 09:00

Hi Cin
First give Jess a BIG HUG from us [img][/img]
DS has a peanut free table at Kinder and childcare BUT is allowed to have kids sit with him that dont have peanuts or anything in their lunch.
Good Luck [img][/img]
Have A Great Day

Posted on: Fri, 09/10/2004 - 12:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Well, Jesse finished the four days of school and I guess I'll speak with him this week-end about the "peanut free" table situation.
DH went into the school this morning and saw the set-up. There is a special monitor for the "peanut free" table. I believe he spoke with that woman and asked how long the children are even there eating their lunch out of the one hour lunch hour. She said 15 minutes max and if they finish sooner they are allowed to leave and go out and play.
There is another child from Jesse's class at the "peanut free" table.
Apparently, if he wanted to have a buddy sit with him, I would have to speak with the office and something official from the school would have to be sent to that child's parents asking them if it would be okay if their child sat at the peanut free table and acknowledging that their child's lunch is peanut free.
But what if he doesn't have the same buddy for the whole year? Why go through all of that rigomorale (?) ?
I think because there are other PA students at the table (bench), the school wouldn't feel that they are being socially isolated.
Also, there is the option for me to join Jesse for lunch and he can eat at the regular lunch table.
I would really say, for the amount of time that he spends eating, perhaps it is better to be "safe than sorry" and just leave things be unless he continues to be really upset about the situation.
He already has his sister, three cousins, and a couple of buddies at school and he is certainly making friends easier than he did last year.
I just don't know. [img][/img]
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Sat, 09/11/2004 - 2:49am
b and c's picture
Joined: 09/03/2004 - 09:00

If there is a monitor at the allergy table, can't that person check a friends lunch for nuts?
Did they provide a real table yet?
It is nice that there are other kids at the table with yours. Perhaps you can speak with one or two of the other parents, and lobby for a table in the regular lunch room.


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