The Start of School…and our peanut-allergic kidlet

August 13, 2006 at 9:19 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Products, social issues, Websites)

Well, while many families are doing “back to school,” at our house it is “The Start of School.”

We’d always thought we would homeschool, but after a year+ of Steve being a SAHD and me working outside the home, he said “NO WAY!” and we found a public Montessori school that seems to hold to better child-centered ethics than we can reasonably pull off ourselves at home…deciding that our kids would be educationally better served in an environment as purportedly kind and patient as Montessori, we hope that public Montessori education is going to be great for our oldest, who starts Kindergarten in a few days.

Prior to this decision, of course we read quite a bit about Montessori, and we consulted several available online guides to starting school. We’ve found that there are quite a few adversarial situations throughout the US and a few in other parts of the world (but not nearly as many problems, seemingly, outside the US and within), resulting in myriad guides to get parents in whatever position they need to be to take care of their kids medical needs.

Why is that, I wonder?

Why would anyone fight to have the right to expose a child to something known to kill?

Why would anyone fight for the right to bring rat poison to class, or to eat a loaded gun, or to wear a poisonous snake as jewelry?

Who would see the removal or safe handling of these things as unreasonable?

Teachers, principals, cafeteria workers, school nurses, teacher’s aids…all these people purport to love children, and surely they do…but the administration of life-saving epinephrine has been looked up on as a liability issue by so many that some states have had to pass laws to protect children. Why?

Who would prefer to be liable for causing the death of a child through negligence over the liability of saving a life?

We are fortunate that our child’s teachers are open-minded, compassionate, capable, caring people. The schol administration, though busy and not particularly quick to return emails, have been as helpful as they can be. Our child’s health may not be their top priority, but given the philosophy of the school, the start of a new school year, the new school building, etc., etc., it is hard if not outright impossible to predict what sort of to-do list the administration has to go through, and where Sam’s particular needs fall into that list.

They won’t purposefully hurt him. We’ll be around to remind, advise, educate, etc. I believe they will keep him safe to the best of their ability and that they understand the gravity of the situation. Just because they haven’t returned phone calls or emails with the speed that I would prefer doesn’t mean they don’t care–it might simply be that there are only so many hours in the day, and there could be, for all I know, far squeakier wheels.

I don’t want to go into this thinking that they’re slackers who don’t care. I’ve had that attitude in the past about situations and I’ve regretted it.

Steve is far more patient than I am in dealing with these issues. We both feel confident in this situation, but cautiously optimistic, as well. It will realistically be a few weeks before I feel 100% about it, you know? I can’t help that–I’m the MAMA.

Sam has half day Kindergarten, and there is another child in the same class, in the other portion of the day, who has peanut allergy, as well. I think this classroom is going to be fine for him.

With all my heart I pray that he will be okay. I believe we have done the best we can do, with the meetings and the action plans and the epi-pen training, and today I feel confident that Sam will have a great year in Kindergarten…but we won’t stop checking in, we won’t withdraw our participation and take for granted that everything is okay.

Eventually I hope to have more time to help out at the school. Right now I’m working on a deal to take my Allergy News – All the News that Itches podcast to the local airwaves as well as the internet world-wide audience (iTunes link) it currently reaches. I feel like I have a responsibility to be more available for my kids as they enter school, and with the younger ones, to be there for more interaction before they reach school. It’s my hope that as my husband grows his business and I grow the Allergyware.com store and Allergy News show, that I can devote more time to my family’s needs, many of which revolve around the management of allergies.

I want to be there for my family, with my family, part of my family, in a role that functions as a loving guide more so than the Allergy Police, you know?

Today I plan on taping both a video about how to use the Epi-pen (and hopefully I can include Sam in this), as well as record the audio for another edition of All The News That Itches. I want to try to make this episode a little more polished than past episodes. You know I’ve been doing this podcast casually since December of 2005? Time flies.

It’s going to be a gorgeous day here today and we’ve got a lot more to do at our house than podcasting, so I better cut this short here. I hope you have an incredible, allergy-free week, and I hope to hear from you on your thoughts about school, back to school, food allergies, epinephrine, whatever crossed your mind while reading this post.

I truly do treasure your comments and feedback.

Leslea

P.S. If you haven’t done one of these yet, please see this document, and discuss it with your doctor and your child’s teacher! Food Allergy Action Plan (for school, in PDF)

P.P.S.  I hope to be able to do more REAL blog entries like this one from time-to-time, as time allows in the future.  I know the recall notices are helpful, but I miss writing about these issues as they come to mind.  Writing about them really helps me organize my own thoughts, and I enjoy hearing from y’all about how my blogging helps you and your families.  Right now clubmom.com has me doing Q&A about toddler parenting more so than allergies, but you can still check there for articles and thoughts on allergy-managment, from time-to-time.  They’re getting to release a new feature that I think I am allowed to hint about (as I just did here), and at some point in the future we Go-To Moms will go back to writing our articles, but for the time being we’re doing little blurby, practical application type-writing.  If you EVER have a question, please do not hestitate to contact me either by comment here or directy by email (allergyware@gmail.com) or via toll-free # (1.888.65.GCAST, enter CALL.LESLEA., enter “1111#), and I promise I will do my best to address your questions, comments, debates, requests, etc. 

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3 Comments

  1. Greg said,

    Thanks for the thought you put into this blog. We struggle with the same issues. I hope one day they come up with a cure. Peanut allergies are very frightening. I hate that I get resentful of people who treat the peanut issue like it’s merely an inconvenience. We need to educate as many people as we can about the dangers associated with these allergies.
    Good luck.

  2. Donna said,

    I agree the public schools need to protect kids from dangerous situations, and be able to use the appropriate first aid in any predictable situation, especially when the numbers of people with allergies are on the rise, and there is no controlling when a bee will appear or a cookie might have undeclared peanut in it. I feel so badly for the poor kid who gets sick because someone 3 tables away started eating a peanut butter sandwich.

    However, the argument “Why would anyone fight for the right to bring rat poison to class, or to eat a loaded gun, or to wear a poisonous snake as jewelry?” is unfair and disingenuous. One child’s allergy should not dictate the menu options for every other child, as is starting to be the case. The public schools are full of kids whose parents are low-income, and peanut butter isn’t rat poison, it is an important staple and protein source for a lot of kids whose parents cannot regularly afford more expensive foods. The vast majority of schoolchildren are not allergic to it and for an entire school to be prohibited from bringing lunches containing any item on the allergy list would have the entire school trying to jump through an impossible hoop. If you take away peanuts, nuts, eggs, shrimp, milk, soy, wheat, corn, pretty soon there’s nothing left that everyone else CAN pack in their kids’ lunches. Some parents will not be able to afford the daily halibut filet and Yanomamo taro lunches that won’t set off anyone’s allergy.

    Perhaps the parents of the allergic child in public school need to implement early, vigorous allergy-awareness training to teach their allergic child to avoid any potentially dangerous foods, plus inform the teacher about the allergy in a way that leaves no doubt about the seriousness, so that whenever any foods are being served, the teacher can be vigilant to prevent food sharing of suspect items. Your child can be taught not to eat anyone else’s food including the birthday cupcakes someone brought. Yes, this is sad, but you can turn it around and make it an extra-lucky thing to miss out on a treat by making up for it after school with some even more coveted treat or fun activity. This works and even my four-year-old was able to resist pink cupcakes with sprinkles by thinking about what lovely treat she would be asking me for that afternoon.

    I am against other parents bringing birthday food into the class anyway, and also against the kids sharing food with each other. I am definitely in favor of teacher training in epi-pen use along with the CPR they should all have in the first place. Some kids are so sensitive you never know when their allergy will strike. For some it is best to find another environment because an entire school shouldn’t be forced to kowtow to one allergy, even though it would be nice if they would try out of compassion, and how can you protect your child from every possible situation? My fifth grader had a rotten year being unable to eat a lot of foods and restricted from bringing the ones she can eat because of someone else’s allergy or because her allowed foods were offensive to everyone else so that she was constantly harassed about it. The only thing she could eat that didn’t offend people was plain rice, and if she could have brought peanut products to school it would have been so much easier to feed her that year.

  3. Donna said,

    By the way, you are doing a fantastic job with this site and helping a lot of people with a very important and serious matter in their lives. Thank you for your time and effort which I know are widely appreciated.

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