Friday, October 17, 2008

Judgmental mom rears her ugly head

There are very few times you'll hear me say I'm a better parent than anyone else. You know, besides parents who smack their kids around. I'm better than them. Or parents who lock their kids in closets. I'm better than them, too. Oh, and parents who spend all their money on drugs and alcohol instead of food or clothes. I do better than that. Oh, I guess you will often hear I'm a better parent than other people. Look at me, all judgmental-y.

To be serious, though, within reason, I almost never think I'm a better parent than anyone else. We all have different parenting styles, different strengths and weaknesses, different aspects we are better at. That doesn't make us good or bad parents, just parents.

But today, I'm stating for the record I'm a better parent than an entire group of people. And do you know who those people are? The parents who ignore food bans in the schools, getting all annoyed that, god forbid, their child can't eat peanut butter for lunch.

This has always been an issue for me, long before I had a child with food allergies. When I was student teaching, I saw many parents with this attitude. It was just too much trouble to tell their precious little children that they'd have to eat something else, so they would just flout the school rules.

And now I have a child with food allergies. Luckily, it's just peanuts and tree nuts. We got off pretty easy in terms of food allergies. It's not that hard to avoid nuts for the most part, and it doesn't require huge diet changes. And nut allergies are shockingly common these days, so it's not that unknown.

Double luckily, we're not the only family with food allergies in my kids' preschool class. There is someone else in the class with egg and milk allergies. So that means the approved snack list is fairly small, but who cares? It's easy enough to follow, even if we don't have a lot of variability in our snack choices. Most days I send my kids with cut up fruit, or maybe pretzels.

But earlier this week, N-man desperately wanted a cheese stick for a snack. He begged, he pleaded, he cried, he threw a patented three-and-a-half-year-old-temper-tantrum. You know what? TOUGH. How hard was it for me to say no? Not that hard! Was it worth sending a food that could make another child potentially sick just so I didn't have to deal with a tantrum? I'm sorry, but that's bad parenting. When a parent gives in to a child; tells them that their fleeting happiness of having the desired snack/lunch is more important than the well-being of another child, well, frankly, that makes them a bad parent. Yes, I said it. So what if I'm being's true. Is that really the message to send to our children? To be completely without compassion for another child all in the name of eating a peanut butter sandwich (or a cheese stick or whatever it is)?

"Oh, but my little precious darling won't eat ANYTHING but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches". Well, I'm sorry to say, but that is bad parenting as well. Oh yes, I said it again. Is there a doctor's note about the child's feeding issues? If so, well, sorry, then it's not bad parenting. But most of the time, it's not that the kids *won't* eat anything else, it's that the parent doesn't want to have to say no to their child. Bad parenting! Everyone has food preferences. Heck, I'd like to eat pizza and chocolate cake every day. B-man would like mac and cheese 3 times a day. N-man would like chips and hot dogs. I understand that lots of kids love PB&J. But if your school has a nut ban, please follow it. Please remember that by failing to follow it, your child could potentially kill another child.

Yes, I'm being dramatic. Food allergies aren't often fatal, though they certainly can be. Mostly, they just require a shot of adrenaline followed up with a ride in the ambulance to the emergency room. That sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?

I'm not going to get into whether a food ban is an effective means of protecting children, or if it's an equitable solution, or if it's a good idea at all. But when there is a food ban, the school has fewer other policies in place. There's no nut-free table if the whole school is supposed to be nut-free. If a parent is SOOOO annoyed at a food ban, then work within the system to try to change the policy, but don't just ignore the existing policy. It's not fair to the children with food allergies. It's not fair to the teachers/lunch monitors/administrators who have to deal with the non-compliant family. But mostly, it's not fair to the child who is given the message that their own minor happiness is more important than the health of another child; that they are above the rules of the school; that they don't need to have any compassion or empathy for their fellow students. These are not the right messages to send to our children.

Okay, off my high horse. Allergies have been high on my mind recently. B-man has his 1 year follow-up retesting next week. I don't expect him to have outgrown his allergies, though it would be insanely exciting if he had. I'm also in a funk about Halloween. I just don't know what to do. There are very, very few Halloween snacks that are nut-safe. Dum-dum lollipops, mostly. Even those Snyder Halloween packaged pretzels aren't nut-safe (I know! What's up with that??). I certainly don't expect any of our neighbors to have stocked up on nut-safe snacks. I bet this year I can probably get away with doing a presto-chango quick switch for safe snacks, but maybe not. B-man is pretty observant. What would you do for trick or treating if your child was allergic to all the treats? I know I've got a few readers with children with food allergies: what do you do?


Nancy said...

Okay. I have to admit...I'm a PB&J grumbler. (but only softly, I swear!) I grew up on PB&J at school and it just seems sad to me that this quick/easy/won't-go-bad-in-your-bag meal isn't going to be available to my kids.

However, I would *never* send my kids to school with anything they aren't supposed to have - no matter how much they tantrumed (did I just make that word up??) And you know what? They'd get over it...that kid with the allergy may not.

Danielle said...

We use Halloween as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for food allergies. My daughter has been collecting for FAAN every Halloween (she is now 9yrs old). At first people didn't get it, now neighbors have the money ready when she arrives, as well as safe Halloween treats for her like Halloween theme pencils,cards etc.)

We also order chocolate in advance ( Nestle Peanut/Nut Free Candy) from Canada....with the peanut/nut free yellow lable ( Smarties, Aero, Kit Kat bars)

We also order theme chocolate from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.

So really, she ends up with awesome treats, and raises money and awareness for her allergy at the same time!

Happy Nut Free Halloween!!

Anonymous said...

I used to love Halloween. It's not nearly as fun with food allergies though. I have a bag of safe treats that I switch out. We go through my son's bag and pull out the tootsie pops, dum dums, skittles, and any other safe items (no label= not safe) and then I give him his bag of safe goodies. Vermont Nut Free marshmallows on a stick are a huge hit!


ChupieandJ'smama said...

Thanks for being honest about the whole thing. Most people are really too PC to say what the real deal is. I'm not necessarily for food bans but if they are in place, you need to follow the rules!!
We let my guy go trick or treating then he swaps out his unsafe candy for safe candy when he gets home. So far this has worked out well for him.

Melodie said...

My kids have no allergies, but I'm not big on candy for them either, so we limit what they are allowed to have. I guess if my children were allergic, I'd remove anything they couldn't consume, and then replace it with something safe. And of course, the quantities would be limited, too.

WheresMyAngels said...

I work in a medically fragile home for people with disabilities. I have one lady whom is allergic to all dairy products. It is horrible trying to find good things she can eat. She loves sweets, most are made with eggs, not all though. I have alot of problems getting people to read labels and understand them. Someone bought "I can't believe it's not butter" thinking it was dairy free. Most breads have dairy, but not all thankfully. It isn't fun to try and find things that will work and taste good.

I think the pencil idea was a good one. My kids love the treats that aren't made of sugar.

maggie said...

Here's my only issue with food bans in school: where does it end? I'm on board with the peanut thing - it affects lots of kids. But I have 2 friends who have severe wheat allergies. Will we ban bread in case some other kid eats your non peanut butter sandwich? Clearly I'd follow the rules, whatever they are, as to not endanger other kids (esp when they are in PS or elementary grades and the kids aren't aware of the consequences or dangers). But at some point, I think it needs to be resolved within your family and not become a whole school issue. And yeah, I know that sucks for the kids, but hey - who said life was fair? I couldn't eat fat for 5 years lest I vomit my brains out and have excruciating gallbladder pain. You deal.

epicure said...

My daughter who is 21 months old is pretty young to be eating candies (I think, and my opinion!) so I'm thinking other parents who have young children think the same as me. So I'm giving halloween party favors and little bit of candy to her friends and other kids who stops by instead of just all candies! Because what kid doesn't like a toy? I can't really say no to trick or treating either and have control of what others would give her so I've deviced a plan for her "first" halloween and I'm thinking it might work for you too. Last easter, some friends of ours gave her some candies, I told her it wasn't good for her but I'll give her 5 cents per candy instead to add to her piggy bank so she can get a toy when the piggy bank is full. So I've decided to buy every piece of candy she collects that night in exchange. Of course, I cannot completely deny her of candies so I'll give her some, and you can pick the ones that are good for him then the rest can go towards a toy. In the end I think candy or toy, they'd still enjoy it!

Anna Lefler said...

If it weren't for being judgmental, I'd have nothing to do Monday - Friday from 1:00 - 4:00. (I have to schedule it in, but I do make the time for it.) :^)

Loved your post and thanks for stopping by on blogathon day! Hope to see you again soon...

Take care -

:^) Anna

Anonymous said...

I AGREE! Okay, sorry for shouting. But even before we knew that my B had allergies, we always were understanding and respected the food bans at their daycare. And since B has had a nut allergy, someone actually told me that it was my fault that the school was nut free and their kid couldn't eat peanut butter. Excuse me?? Grumble, grumble. That is my rant.

My plan is to trade his stuff for safe treats. We actually have it pretty easy since he doesn't like chocolate, so that won't be an issue but if it were I would buy some chocolates from VT Nut free chocolates to trade him. He loves pretzels so it stinks that those aren't safe. What about the brand that Cost-co sells? They also LOVE stickers and temporary tattos so I want to stock up on those.

Good luck and have a happy nut free Halloween!

Natalie said...

Hmmmm...maybe have a super special halloween themed bag of the good stuff at home that your child knows about with some fun but inexpensive extra little toys from the $1 store mixed in to make it super special and attractive...that your little one would actually prefer! And if your little one is able to understand about kids who don't get taken trick or treating because they don't have anyone to take them...and maybe wouldn't mind sharing the nutty stuff w/ those little kids who would be soooo happy because they have none? (grasping at straws but it might work? :) )

Giovanna Diaries said...

I'm so behind in blog post readings! But I say to you....Amen! You know I'm so on your side and agree w/everything you said. Uhhh, you can tell I have a peanut allergy kid?

Ronnica said...

Hey, I'm behind in reading your posts (and many others' posts) too! Glad to know that I'm not the only one.

This is a great post. The parent shouldn't be caving to the child's every whim, anyway. He isn't king.