In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I present this guest post by Trent Goldhammer.
Oh, man, your school banned nuts? For the love of all things holy what were they thinking? Don’t they know that your kid is picky and that peanut butter is the one thing that he’ll eat three times a day? Do they want him to starve? Maybe you should start a change.org petition to reinstate nuts? Seriously, screw those allergy kids. Their parents should homeschool or something.
Except… I’m one of those dads with the wimpy allergic kid who asked the school to ban nuts in the first place, so, sorry about that. Sorry that packing a ham sandwich is not an acceptable substitution to a peanut butter sandwich. Sorry that your kid’s granola bar got confiscated because you didn’t read the label. Sorry that the Nutella you packed (for dipping carrots!) was returned with a stern note from the teacher informing you– for the first time ever– that it’s made out of nuts. How were you supposed to know that? You thought it was made out of chocolate, sugar, and magic.
I can totally relate to that inconvenience, if you’re up for me sharing a story with you: at one point in time my kid was so allergic to the air outside that breathing it caused her to have to go on antibiotics and steroids four times in one year. Just from breathing. Air. So we packed up and left our home, our jobs, and our families and moved to a city where childcare and housing are 100% more and salaries are 50% less so that we could live somewhere that breathing the air didn’t cause a raging infection in her body.
What I’m trying to say is that I hear you, friend. It sucks that your kid has to wait till 3pm to eat peanut butter so that my kid doesn’t die at school. Your struggle is real and I want to validate that for you. Nobody puts peanuts in a corner.
Peanut butter is your kid’s only source of protein, right? I get that, and here’s why: I had to EpiPen my kid 4 times in the last year to save her life and the ER bills alone are over ten grand. Oh wait, that’s not a very good example to relate to the strife you must be feeling over the nut ban. Let me try again: I live every single day of my life on edge, expecting the phone to ring, thinking I’m going to hear the school principal tell me that my little girl is in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. Does that at all touch on what you’re feeling over your kid’s school lunch?
Why don’t I keep my kid at home so that I can be in total control of her environment, you wonder? Because the law in the United States entitles all children, yes, even the disabled ones, to a public education, that’s why. I pay property taxes just like you do. There isn’t a disability in America that’s as socially acceptable to hate as the kid with food allergies, is there?
Do you know what the law does not entitle? It doesn’t entitle parents to send their kids to a school free of children with disabilities and it doesn’t entitle your kid to a peanut butter sandwich.
Sorry to be the bearer of all kinds of bad news today but hopefully you’re going to weather this storm, find some big kid underwear to put on, and pack a ham-freaking-sammich without crying about it from now on.
Good talk. Thanks for listening.