I must admit something, I avoid birthday parties when it comes to Silas. When people invite him the first thing I think about is the peanut allergy….I usually go so far as to rudely ignore the RSVP and just say nothing. It’s hard to be honest about this one because I feel extremely shameful about it. I do this because:
1. I don’t trust the parent to REALLY understand and keep things peanut free (unless I know them well)
2. I don’t want to put a big damper on their party planning. It’s stressful enough!!
3. It’s a lot of frickin effort dammit.
So I thought I’d write this blog for parents who have no idea about peanut allergies. When your kids go to school you WILL be faced with this, it’s best to have knowledge about it beforehand…and a good attitude.
The other day, after hearing about Silas’ allergy, a mom told me she was annoyed by the no peanut rule at the school.
“It’s the only protein my daughter will eat!”
Taken aback I said to her, ” well I’d rather your daughter go without protein than my son die, she has plenty of time to eat peanut butter at home”.
She shut up.
Now for some facts. When a parent gets scared about traces of peanuts, they have good reason to. Many of us have seen our children break out in hives for no apparent reason. Traces of peanuts are our worst enemy. A small amount of peanut oil or a tinnnny crumb of peanut can kill a person. DO NOT take it lightly.
Silas once got hives from someone who ate a snickers bar four hours prior to kissing him on the cheek. This is no funny business.
Preparing a peanut free meal/snack/party.
- Do not use anything from the bulk department. That’s a cross contamination NIGHTMARE. Traces everywhere
- Always read the label. Even if it’s been peanut free before, read it every time. Products will change manufacturers and will change their allergy warning. I was in despair when Mini Eggs did this :(.
- The label must say NOTHING about nuts OR say “processed in a peanut/nut free environment” or something along those lines. Anything that says “may contain” any sort of nuts is not ok. The problem is, a lot of nuts may contain peanuts. So it cannot contain any nuts. It there’s no nuts in the ingredient listing and no nut/peanut allergy warning then it is safe to eat!
- Hand sanitizer is not an acceptable form of cleaner when it comes to peanuts. Peanut oils are not germs. You cannot sanitize them away.
- Wash your counters down with good old soap and water with a clean from the cupboard cloth. Only soap can cut peanut oils.
- Try to abstain from peanuts a day or two before the event. This will just ensure more safety for the child.
- If the party is at your home, make sure you wipe down the table and chairs and anywhere else peanuts are consumed. SOAP AND WATER!
- If the parent leaves the child, make sure they don’t leave without handing you the epipen, Benadryl and a list of instructions as to what to do if something happens. Some parents are actually kind of dumb and like to take chances with the life of their child (I mentally bitch slap them every time I come across one). REFUSE to keep them in your home without an epipen, it could save you and the parent a life-time of guilt…oh yes, and a life too.
- Remember the goodie bags. It’s SO SAD for a child to get a goodie bag only to have half or all of the contents thrown out…when it happens to Silas he is upset all day and is mad at his allergy. It’s really emotional for a child to be left out.
You can follow those rules for playdates as well.
Peanut Allergies in the Classroom
I must say, the parent meeting that happened the day before Kindergarten started got a little tense when the parents found out about the allergy. A lot of parents were open to it but some were a little scared. “WTF do I feel my child then?”.
Unfortunately peanut butter is a childhood staple.
They have all come around and the kids are SO intent on keeping Silas safe that they don’t let their parents get away with any shortcuts. They’ve been known to start crying if they forgot and cut a corner. They are totally open to keeping their friend safe and if there is a peanut allergic child in your child’s classroom then you should be too.
I’m not going to poison your kids, don’t poison mine.
The biggest thing is: just wash their hands and faces before they come to school if they’ve had peanuts. A GOOD, soapy wash.
A lot of the parents make their kids shower and brush their teeth after. I have instilled the fear. I am a peanut allergy fear monger and proud of it.
Also, follow the instructions above when it comes to reading labels. I honestly do not care if the other kids have “may contains” as long as there’s no actual peanuts in the classroom. Other parents might have a different idea about that. Respect that.
Teach your child NEVER to share their food with other kids.
When sending in baking for the class, it’s super nice if you attach something peanut free. Bear Paws are awesome because they feel like baking. I won’t trust your home baking but I will trust an attached Bear Paw with a big peanut free symbol on the bag. I keep a box of these in Silas’ classroom in case there’s a treat sent without a peanut free alternative.
Sunbutter is an EXCELLENT peanut butter alternative and it has the same effect as peanut does when eaten by the spoonful. It’s the most delicious alternative.
In closing, please have an open mind when it comes to allergies amongst your children’s peers. I know it might be a bit scary, an inconvenience. Kids don’t choose this, it isn’t a result of bad parenting, it’s something we all would wish away if we could. We’ve cried over it and we stress about it every single day. If a parent is nuts (no pun intended) about the safety of their child (as I am), praise them for the love and dedication they have for their child.
Some people have BAD attitudes about them…if they complain to you…try and set them straight. I don’t get this obsession with food. It’s just peanut butter. It’s not life, it’s not even close to being important in the grand scheme of things. It’s just an object you can live without.
There ya go!! Have fun and keep it peanut free!!!!
That was very imformotive for me Leah. With Ashley starting kindergarten in September it really helps to know what I can do if their happens to be a child with a peanut allergy in her class. 🙂
You had mentioned your blog at school having a peanut-free thing, so I managed to find it. I know I am careful not to put any nuts in things I send to school, use peanut-free products and clean everything carefully before I cook, but it still makes me feel scared to even suggest it’d be safe because “what if?”. We use peanuts in our home. I’ve seen dishes come out of the dishwasher with leftover gunk, which leaves me thinking, “what about the oils and stuff I can’t see?”. I’d hate to think I’d been careful and something still happened. It must be so hard having to be careful and concerned every day, especially when you’re not with him at school and stuff. I think I’ll stick to sending a “peanut free” treat when I send treats on Katie’s birthday…just to be safe…
Thanky you, thank you, thank you for writing this out in such an eloquent manner. I just confirmed with the skin prick test last week that my daughter has peanut allergy so I’ve been doing a lot of research on the matter. I’m surprised how many people feel inconvenienced taking peanuts out of their kids lunches! It’s been since last June since we suspected the PA (took that long to get in to confirm with the allergist) and we have easily transitioned into no peanuts at our house, even though hubby took a PB sandwhich to work every day.
The way I see it is if I saw someone’s child start to run out in the street, I would stop them and not feel inconvenienced in any way. Why wouldn’t someone do the same for me in our peanut allergy situation?
ya, people can be terrible. It’s not like your kid is immune to some poison so you should be able to put it in his lunch if he feels like eating it…