“What about chickpeas?” I asked her.  “Are they allowed in school?”

            She sighed.  “Well, I don’t know how far the school wants to take the policy.”

            “I’m not asking the school,” I replied.  “I am asking you.  It’s your kid.  The school seems to think chickpeas are fine.”

            “Well, chickpeas are the closest relative of peanuts,” she responded.  “But, he’s not in your children’s class.”

            Our preschool, you see, is nut-free, but the administration seems a bit hazy on the exact parameters of that ban.  Clearly, no peanut butter is allowed, because if Zach went out to play in the yard with some on his fingers, he could leave it behind for another child to touch.  Ready-made anaphalactic shock.  But, when I asked about chickpeas, no one seemed to know the answer.

            My eldest is incredibly picky.  Peanut butter is his largest source of protein.  And not being able to pack it in his lunch is a giant pain in the ass.  Not, however, as much of a pain in the ass as it would be for this other child to end up unconscious or dead.  That would suck even more than my kid doing without peanut butter at lunch.

            So, despite the sensory issues and complicated eating, I support the nut-free policy.  In fact, I think all schools should go nut-free.  These kids cannot go on playdates, they cannot fly on airplanes, they often cannot eat in restaurants.  It seems that maybe the school should be a safe zone.

            To address my son’s need for protein, I have switched breakfast and lunch.  My kids eat peanut butter in the morning, then I pack little Mr. Finicky muffins in his lunch box.  I feed them their breakfast in their pajamas so none gets on their school clothes, then scrub their hands and faces and brush their teeth before taking them to school.  And all the while, we talk about why we must take these precautions.

            Zachary is well aware there is a boy in his school who is allergic to peanut butter, although he is mostly really concerned that the child is allergic to chocolate, which he classifies as a huge tragedy.  He knows that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep this child safe.  And he does not begrudge it.  So, why should I?

            Seems to me this is the perfect opportunity to teach about community responsibility for looking out for one another.

            In the end, we decided spinach with a chickpea base is OK, as long as I tell the teachers to carefully wash hands before the kids are allowed out in the play yard.  Together, we are coming up with the solutions, because I am pretty sure she cannot keep her kid safe all by herself.

12 responses to “Nutty

  1. it shouldn’t have to be such a burden to those families, that’s for sure. I cannot understand any other approach than what you describe, but I have known plenty of people who are not even the least bit interested in someone else’s problem, and who apparently don’t believe in karma. We switched to PB sandwiches for breakfast, too.

  2. It must be a nightmare to be a parent of a child with such a severe allergy to something that is part of most kids’ day! And to have a lot of other people just saying, “Tough, keep your kid at home then, cause we’re gonna eat peanutbutter!” I love peanutbutter, but I bet people love their kids to be alive even more!!! Good job at teaching your kids to care about other people’s allergies.

  3. Peanut allergies are awful. I can’t understand why so many kids seem to have them these days. Poor kids. And poor families.

  4. My husband’s high school is peanut free. But it only happened in response to one child who is allergic.

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. I guess I do feel it’s quite a burden to expect 1,000 people to never eat peanut butter or anything with peanut butter in it, for four years. And I think in the end, it’s futile. Because some kid is going to eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup eventually. Can it even be possible to shield a child from peanuts forever??

    I commend you and Zach for your approach to this. It is a great learning tool for him, and I suppose all of us, since my initial reaction would have been “Hell to the no, if you think I’m not feeding my kid peanut butter.”

  5. Switching breakfast and lunch is BRILLIANT! I’ll have to tell the parents in my class that. It is great!!!

  6. Because I’m weird, I just looked up the chickpea/peanut allergy connection. It looks like people with peanut allergies have the potential to be allergic to any other legume, also. (One site said a 50% chance) For what it’s worth.

    I know I experience frustration at some of the food rules at schools, but the severity of a peanut allergy is very frightening, and even with all the diligence of a school, parents (of a child with said allergy) are going to have to be even more prepared/diligent for their child’s entire life.

  7. I’ve been dealing with this nut free thing for 3 years now. At first it was hard to get used to, but I understood the need, and would hope moms would for me if my child were allergic. Wish I’d thought of PB for breakfast instead, though. My kids eat alot of it on the weekends, that’s for sure.

    To liven up lunches a bit I use a thermos and send soup, mac n cheese, spaghetti. Maybe thta will help with some easier ideas.

  8. You rock. Thank you on behalf of allergy moms everywhere.

    As for chickpeas, mini eats them all the time, but I’m not about to guess on another kid’s allergies. I also highly recommend soy nut butter as a PB substitute!

  9. You are a wonderful person, Emily.

  10. When I worked at the bookshop one of the sellers was allergic to nuts. His girlfriend had been eating peanuts before she gave him a kiss – that put him in hospital. It is one scary allergy. I agree it’s a real pain for the nut eaters, but by far and away the best idea to be very cautious.

  11. Forwarding to my sister for sure!

  12. Pingback: going nuts « collecting tokens