I don’t get it: A kid has an allergy. He/she has to sit at a separate table with other kids who have food allergies and eat allergy safe foods. The rest of the kids will sit wherever they darn well please and eat non allergy safe foods, (greasy, oily, hard to clean, poisonous foods like peanut butter.)
So, the kids with the poison (the sticky, slimy, oily poison) can drip, leak, and smudge it all over every other table, seat, and floor in the cafeteria. While the kids with the safe foods are banished to an outcast table.
Has anybody ever watched a kid eat? Kids can walk around with red kool-aid ‘staches for days and not notice. They can have chunks of food on their faces, shirt, hands, hair… all over their body, really. These are the kids who get to sit wherever they want, eating potentially deadly poison and spreading it all over the cafeteria.
Then they go back to class, touching pens, pencils, books, folders, and everything else in the classroom with their poisonous, oily, chunky, peanut butter hands for everyone to come in contact with, food allergy or not.
I will never forget the first day I sent my adorable 3 year-old, peanut/tree nut allergic daughter to pre-school. It was 8:30-11:30, but since it was the first day in 3 years she had been away from me for a few hours, I decided to get to school early and take a peek at her on the playground. I spotted her instantly. She was holding hands and skipping with the most adorable little 3 year-old boy. My happiness turned to terror when I realized he could have had peanut butter toast for breakfast and a peanut butter cracker for snack and he was now holding my daughter’s hand!!! Her hand!! Her hand that goes in her mouth. Her hand that she uses to feed herself. Her hand that could rub her eye and get that poison in her body and cause her body to swell and her throat to close.
I knew that day would be the last day for her to attend a school that allowed nuts. It wasn’t worth the risk. The reality is that, even in a nut-free school, kids could still have peanut butter for breakfast and then walk into school with clumps of poison dangling from their bodies and touch my precious daughter, but getting rid of nuts during school is lowering the odds of her coming in contact with them, and that is what mattered.
I will also never forget the day my oldest son told me about the allergy table at his school. It took a few minutes to register what he was saying. There is a kid in his grade who has a nut allergy. This kid has a bunch of friends who don’t have allergies but sit with him at the allergy table for support. Sweet, right? It took another couple of minutes for me to process that he was saying these friends bring in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school everyday and eat them at the allergy table! Does this make sense? From an allergy parent’s perspective, this is terrifying. I have a sneaking suspicion it happens more frequently than we think.
I have four kids, three with food allergies. I would love to just make the world nut-free, but obviously that isn’t going to happen so, I have another idea.
Why not create a new allergy table? A table where kids can sit if they bring in the sticky, oily poison. A table where kids can sit down, eat their greasy peanut butter and then get up and wash their hands after. The table itself can be washed properly, the chairs and floor can also be scrubbed. It is so much less overwhelming and so much more manageable if all the nuts are kept to one area.
I know this article will anger a lot of people. How dare I call peanut butter poison? I know it is the only thing that some kids will eat. If they can’t have peanut butter for lunch the child won’t eat anything else! Yes, peanut butter is considered “healthy.” But for me, in my world, it is poison. It is a poison that could make my children unable to breathe and, therefore, I have no choice but to do everything in my power to keep it away.
I have never understood the allergy table. Don’t you think it’s time to try something new?