The school my kids go to is totally nut-free — no peanuts, treenuts, almonds, cashews etc allowed on school property. For a family who has no nut allergy and a daughter who is obsessed with peanut butter, this may be an inconvenience for us.
It’s not though — I can understand a bit the world of food allergies and trying our best to protect our kids. While mine don’t have food allergies, Raru has inherited celiac disease thanks to me and she has to navigate the world worrying about coming in to contact (direct or cross-contamination) with gluten and all the variations of it. I worry for her — she reacts to quite a little bit and she is young and still learning to ask all the questions.
It’s not as immediately dangerous as an anaphylactic peanut allergy so I can understand why schools will never be required to be gluten-free, though I am thankful (for the moms and kids who have to deal with an anaphylactic allergy) the schools here take their student’s safety seriously. There is a lot of misunderstanding and lack of compassion from parents who don’t have to worry about food and their children and a very real possibility of harm coming to them simply from a cookie.
Click through to read 6 things parents of food allergy kids want you to know about them:
We Want Them to be Included 1 of 6We don't want our kids to have to sit in a separate room for lunch. We don't want them to be alienated, singled out and left out. If your child's school is not yet a nut-free zone, consider packing allergen-free lunches for your kids to take to school anyway, so our children don't need to be segregated from everyone else.
Photo credit: Tetra Pak on Flickr
We Want Them to be Safe 2 of 6It may be more convenient for you to bring the store-bought cupcakes in for the class or to send your kid to school with a peanut butter sandwich, but that puts our kids in danger. We understand we can't protect our kids forever and don't intend to, but when they're young and still learning what can hurt them - we want it as safe as possible. Please keep them in mind when bringing in treats for school or playdates maybe opting for safer items like fruits and veggies (like apples, carrots) that are not typically allergens.
Photo credit: Clarkston SCAMP on Flickr
We Want Them to be Taken Seriously 3 of 6Their allergy/intolerance/food-related disease is not made up. We are not being dramatic or over-blowing things when we tell you how serious it is. We are advocating and protecting just as any parent would. Have a conversation with your kids about allergies and explain that some kids get them. Encourage them to ask questions to reduce any bullying or alienating.
Photo credit: subewl on Flickr
We Want Them to Have Safe Food 4 of 6If you are with our kids, we want you to help them stay safe. Don't confuse them by suggesting they can have just a little bit of this or that. Ask ahead if you're hosting a birthday party or play-date if anyone has food allergies, and see if you can accommodate. If not, don't offer the child food outside what their parents probably packed for them.
Photo credit: iotae on Flickr
We Want Them to Celebrate Too 5 of 6In our world we all seem to celebrate the big things surrounded by food. Birthday cakes, gatherings, special treats. At school instead of bringing in cookies, why not bring stickers, pencils or other non-food related treats to share with the class? It would allow all of our kids to celebrate without worry for anyone getting sick or feeling left out.
Photo credit: Jessicizer on Flickr
We Want Them to be Respected 6 of 6When you talk about our kids, they can hear you. There is nothing wrong with them — they don't want to be an inconvenience and we don't want you to treat them as if they are. If you have any questions about food allergies, intolerance or food-related disease — ask the child or the parents instead of making snark remarks behind their back.
Photo credit: rabble on Flickr
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Photo credit: Tetra Pak on Flickr