I once watched a full-on Facebook fight go down between two otherwise, seemingly normal moms. Insults were hurled, replies were buried 10-deep in the comment box, and things got so intense that strangers started popping the popcorn emoji just to watch.
The source of all this tension?
A birthday cupcake in the classroom.
It sounds crazy, but somehow the discussion of what kids can eat at school versus what needs to stay at home due to food allergies is still a debate that rages on. Last year, one mom argued on The Huffington Post:
“It makes sense to ban certain items when children are too young to ask and avoid foods that they might have sensitivities toward. But once we cross a threshold, personal responsibility and parental education need to come into play. I agree that a teacher should let all parents know about any life-threatening allergies in a classroom. However, my kid shouldn’t have to forego his birthday cake because yours can’t eat it.”
Look, I get it. We all want our kids to feel like the world’s most special snowflake and that includes special celebrations at school. But I just don’t understand parents who take extreme offense to the thought that as a whole, schools should cater to the individual needs of one student with food allergies.
Take, for example, the much-debated PB&J. Although I admit that it is a stretch of my already-challenged culinary skills to move beyond a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day of my kid’s life, let’s be real: it is worth the extra time on my end to not put a child’s life in danger.
Besides the fact that there are national and local guidelines that we need to pay attention to, how about some decent common sense and empathy?
When you really think about it, cupcakes aren’t even all that delicious, am I right? It’s like one bite of cake and then fifteen layers of frosting. Cupcakes are pretty to look at, but not practical to eat, and that’s the truth. OK, fine, perhaps we could agree to disagree on that one. But when it comes to whether or not cupcakes, birthday treats, or PB&J sandwiches belong in a classroom, the issue is actually a non-issue.
Because it’s just not that big of a deal.
My thought process about allergies and food goes a little something like this: “OK, we may have to get more creative than before because another child could have a life-threating reaction? Done.” There are more important things in life than sugary treats, and there is more to life than what happens between the walls of a school.
Your kid wants a cupcake for his birthday? That’s great! Here’s one he can have — after dinner.
Your daughter wants to bring in a treat for the class? Awesome! Stickers can’t hurt someone.
You want to make your child’s birthday an exciting, all-day affair to make her feel loved beyond all measure? Perfect! May I suggest some allergy-friendly options?
Kids have enough to deal with at school without wondering if their BFF’s cupcake is going to harm them. So yes, I will gladly sacrifice my kid’s cupcake for your kid’s life. It’s a no-brainer.