I don’t know why my first impulse, when it comes to peanut allergy discussions, is to roll my eyes. I also have a real Tea Party kind of reaction when it comes to designated peanut-free zones: I’ve got my rights! You can’t tell me how to feed my child!
My reactions confuse me, because I’m typically very much one who is for taking care of others, doing my part, etc. and so forth. I think communities are only as strong as their weakest members so, you know, it behooves us all to pitch in and make adjustments and accommodate others. Anyway, I’d rather not have my son watch a friend get carted away on a stretcher during snacktime, so, I guess I can make a bigger effort to wipe his face clean in the morning (peanut butter toast junkie that he is).
Still, I read Lisa Conquet’s piece up on Babble today with a familiar irritation — and not one in the back of my throat due to a swollen, allergy-stricken tongue. It was the same irritation I feel anytime there’s talk of how a little sandwich is wrecking other people’s lives.
Why? Why am I so protective of peanut butter?
Conquet writes about what she deals with every day in trying to keep her daughter from being exposed to not just peanuts and peanut butter, but the oil that remains even after hands have been washed and tables have been wiped. There’s a constant risk of exposure — at the park, playdates and parties. The nut oils could be lurking anywhere (even her own pantry, as she found out). My family’s dependence on peanut butter and nuts make family’s like her miserable.
Even those trying to accommodate her daughter, as one mom did at a birthday party, aren’t doing enough. There’s almost always something there that forces Conquet to pack up and leave. All of which is really sad, but … still. I wasn’t feeling it.
Then Coquet writes that her daughter survived babyhood and preschool (which was nut-free) and is now navigating the PB&J-smeared wilds of public school. And that’s where my cold and peanut butter-filled heart broke a little. At lunch, her daughter sits at a regular desk that is pushed up at the head of table where her classmates sit. That works now, I guess. But I’m already cringing for the girl during the more self-conscious 2nd-grade year and beyond.
Coquet says a ban on peanuts in public places — much like smoking bans — would make her and her daughter’s life much, much easier. And healthier and safer, too. Bans on smoking? Oh, I love those! Let’s have even more of those! A ban on peanut butter, though? Actually, that desk makes me a little more willing to consider one.
Go on … how do you really feel about peanut allergies? Hype? Self-pity? Do you live in a peanut-free world?
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