With school starting back up all over the US, the topic of peanut allergy comes up alot. It's everywhere and it's often deadly. Schools often have to make concessions and keep a school peanut free. Completely peanut free. Now as a mom with three children who are anaphylactic to touching dairy, I applaud any school that takes steps to protect children with this issue. But as someone pointed out the other day, what about the kids who are so poor that PB&J is the only lunch their parents can send???
One of the reasons we originally started homeschooling was because of the extremity of the food allergies in the kids. The kids could not be kept safe in school. I knew this because the military daycare I used to work at was SUPER crazy clean and strict in their safety measures, yet even there, under my very nose, Tony was constantly going into anaphylactic shock. Overloaded classrooms with overworked teachers cannot be expected to do better.
A friend who runs a local private school let my kids attend for two weeks during some very extreme illness on my part a few years ago, while Daddy was overseas. While the school did splendidly and my children enjoyed their time there, I also saw the difficulty it caused the teachers. The constant hand washing, surface washing and vigilance required to keep my kids safe was taxing for them. But we were only part time students with no expectations that everyone change policy for us. And the staff and students saw it as a ministry to help a struggling mom and were happy to sacrifice for a time. God bless them for bringing a stressed out mommy some peace!
We are very blessed because Daddy can support us on his paycheck alone. While I do work, it's very part time and my check pays for homeschool supplies, not daily living. AND Daddy takes off work when I travel so he can watch the kids without looking to the school system for help. So we are not part of the equation. But I couldn't help but think about all this. I was shocked beyond words the other day when a mom railed at me about how poor children with PB&J lunches should not have to suffer for my childs allergies.
But what if I couldn't stay home? What if I had to go to work and make a school system change their rules for our survival? (Not convenience mind you, but SURVIVAL) But then, what about the parents who can afford nothing but PB&J for their child for lunch? What about that child?? Who should sacrifice? The parents of the child who can't survive in a peanut atmosphere? Or the parents of the child who can't afford anything more costly than PB? Does the parent who uses PB&J every day just need more education on other affordable alternatives? Are there more affordable alternatives to a cheap jar of PB?? I mean there really are people who work themselves to peices and still can only afford the cheapest of food options. Does the parent of the peanut allergic child just need to find another schooling option? What option? Homeschooling is great but not an option for a single mom who works 50 hours a week with no child support to help pay bills. Sometimes not even an option for married people who both work full time and are squeaking out a living trying to pay regular bills plus a small fortune in groceries because their childs health demands it. So what is that parent to do with their child?
And if there are other cheap food options, why don't people know about it? Why do they think PB&J is all there is? Why can't someone whose child lives off PB&J (because it's all they can afford) get financial assistance so they can afford real food? How can a school system charge that parent for that childs lunch, knowing full well they can't pay for it? How can a parent send their child to school with nothing to eat and hope they find someone willing to share a little something? How does a parent send their child to school hungry, knowing they're going to be that way all day because of another child.
My mommy heart say the child who is anaphylactic to food should be catered too. Of course I think that, it's life and death for goodness sake. And I live it --- my view is decidedly skewed. But I don't want a child to go hungry every day because her parents can't afford anything more than PB&J. Really I don't. I don't think I could stand knowing my child caused another child to go hungry day after day. And while that child wouldn't die from missing one meal a day, she sure wouldn't thrive or be able to focus and do her work in school while her little belly rumbles away.
Sheesh, it's just not right, no matter how you look at it.
One time, very long ago, my boss (x-boss) told me I just needed to put Tony in a bubble. She thought that was funny and didn't intend to be offensive and insensitive, but she was. It hurts every time people act like my children should just get out of the way and let life carry on for everyone else. My kids want to be part of the fun too!! But on the other hand, I don't expect people to stop eating around my kids ALL the time; just sometimes. Just often enough so that they get to do kid things and be around other kids without fear of touching someone while playing. Some people are willing to make that sacrifice but most are not. Kids tend to be much more tolerant of this situation than adults. We often find the children of our friends being more concientious of our needs because they don't want to hurt their friends. And I thank GOD we do not have to deal with an unsafe school situation. I do not know how parents of these severely allergic children do it!
I am very grateful for our church. They make special concessions for us. If we want to participate in a certain kids activity, we let them know and they (often times) save us a special table marked with "don't put food here", they hand out wipes or give instructions for others to wash hands because of our allergies. Daddy & I stand around like hawks with our epipens attached to our pants, ready at a seconds notice. Kids come up and ask if they can play with our kids, we remind them to wash up and then play. And sometimes we just sit certain activities out because it's really not possible to be safe -- like at an ice cream social. But MOST places are not like this. People with touch or inhalation allergies are left out because others cannot socialize without food in their hands.
The whole situation makes me sad and angry. Children all over the place are ill. Chronically ill. And there is not enough education or financial help to rectify the situation. We pay a fortune for our radical allergy treatments --- and we're getting a discount! Parents who work themselves to death and have no money for good food are not given options; are not given access to cheap healthy foods... because healthy food isn't cheap.
Many parents have told me that they would absolutely send their children to school peanut free if there was a deadly allergy. I love these parents! God bless their thoughtfullness and understanding. But still, I can't get that picture out of my head. The picture of a little girl hungry with nothing in her lunchbox, no money for school lunch, and a mom with a broken heart.
Medical experts say it's not possible to recover autism. We have living proof in the form of three children, that it IS possible. In my blog you will find recovery stories, along with information regarding health that I have learned over the years. And sometimes just snippets of life to give hope that yes, life can be normal after the hard work is done.
Sit back, enjoy, and be hopeful! RECOVERY HAPPENS!
**Kids names have been changed to protect the innocent and naughty alike. ;)
**Kids names have been changed to protect the innocent and naughty alike. ;)