I have 5 children. Ages 8, 7, 4, 4 and 2.
Although I homeschool my older two, we also attend a co-op where my 8 and 7 year old attend classes from 8:30-2:30pm. My two 4 year olds (not twins–but 8 months apart) will go to preschool this year a few days a week–and my 2 year old…newly home from China…will be glued to my hip. Next week my older two will start school. In a few weeks, my middle two will start preschool. Getting them all dressed, out the door in time, lunches packed, etc–IT FEELS CRAZY. So every year–when I find out we do not have a peanut allergy in our class…I often take a deep breath of relief–EVEN THOUGH my kids HATE peanut butter…if you read labels–you know it’s in everything.
I confess. I take a deep breath and wipe my brow. Hearing that news at open house–well, it feels like it’s going to be an easier year.
I also must confess–although none of my children have a peanut allergy–I have a niece who does. And after reading a very eye-opening scary article about a precious little girl who accidentally ate something with a trace of peanut butter in it at camp this summer–I thought about what a stick in the mud I have been even feeling a sigh of relief in the past when I find out we can bring in whatever snack we like.
After reading that story–I was so afraid. Afraid–what if some mom accidentally packs something with peanut butter in it for my niece this year? What if some mom in a hurry on party day–brings something in and she accentually tries it? What if Benadryl or the EpiPen does NOT work in time? And for several nights–I laid in bed…for hours–unable to sleep as I thought about this. I sent my sister the article–not to scare her…but to remind her that even though there have been no close calls–we can’t get lazy. She thanked me and forwarded on to the nurse at her school too.
A week or two passed. I forgot about the article. And I…well, I get to forget about my niece’s allergy. I don’t have to read labels (unless she’s at my house which is only now and then). I don’t have to read every label on every trip to the grocery. I don’t have to make a bring cupcakes to birthdays–just to be safe. I don’t have to walk in the first open house EVERY YEAR and watch moms and dads point to the agenda as they read “PLEASE DO NOT PACK ANY THING IN YOUR CHILD’S LUNCH THAT HAS PEANUTS OR TRACES OF PEANUTS–WE HAVE A CHILD WITH A SEVERE PEANUT ALLERGY IN OUR CLASS”…and pretend I didn’t see them roll their eyes or give a “GREAT:(!” smile. I don’t have to always have children to my house instead of friends homes…or break a sweat at every holiday party when the bowl of peanuts is spotted—or casually hide it…or even make up a silly reason why we have to leave.
At the very most, when there is a child in my child’s class with this allergy–I have to use a little more of the brain the good Lord gave me–and simply read labels. For ONE meal out of the day–packing a lunch–I have to pack things omitting one little ingredient…no losing sleep, no worrying every where my child goes, no feeling like I need to tag along or always be there…just in case. This…this is the very least–I can do.
But really. I think I should and can do more.