Food allergies are really real (see also: believe the hype)

A mom in Canada wants the oak trees near her kids’ schools cut down because of peanut allergies. Here’s the takeaway if you don’t have the time to read a story about Stupid:

“The acorns are not only presenting a risk to the tree-nut-allergic students, but it is also becoming a great cause of anxiety among all students with nut allergies.” Donna Giustizia also said, according to The Star,   that “acorns can also be used to bully and torment children.”

1. Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re a legume. Acorns? Those are actually nuts.

2. Peanut plants and oak trees are not in the same family.

3. The protein structure of acorns and peanuts are not remotely similar.

4. Who the hell eats acorns?

5. I can almost see the point about acorns being used to “bully and torment children”…except the trees are on school grounds so one would assume an actual grown-up authority figure is around to stop the little heathens from pelting each other with acorns.

Side note: Our oak trees are evil bastards that harass all who pass by dropping their nuts right on your head. It hurts. Sometimes Mr. G wears an honest-to-god hard-hat while he’s raking the yard so he doesn’t get a concussion. TRUE STORY. That’s just the front yard acorns. They’re teeny and little. The acorns in the backyard are the size of golf balls and could knock you out if the wind was blowing just so. Stupid trees.

I digress.

Thanks to people like Donna Giustizia I once again feel compelled to defend my daughter’s allergies from people who take the bullshit acorn claim to foster their idea food allergies are hype.

The comments I read from a Facebook thread:

Bubble Boy. Fucking hysterical.

Hyperbolic snail comment. Yes. That’s exactly what a mom like me wants. NO NUTS FOR ANYONE. Guess what? No more peanuts means my mom won’t be able to make peanut butter fudge at Christmastime and that would just really suck. My kid may be allergic to peanuts but the rest of our family likes peanut butter. So…you know…bite me, unfunny dude. And? NO PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE FOR YOU!

But, really, the it’s the Panda’s comment that freaks me out and pisses me off.

My daughter’s allergies are real. They are real and they are scary and they are not hype.

Were SG to ingest a peanut (or cashew…or pistachio- you get the picture) she could actually die.

I promise she’s not holding her breath or being overly dramatic, her airway is really closing. Her body is really shutting down.

She can’t magically make the splotchy red hives, swollen eyes and lips, and horrific itching come and go at will. She’s REALLY having a reaction to something she’s REALLY allergic to.

I’ve watched it happen. I’ve literally watched her body become covered with hives, her face swell, her little hands itch at her skin so hard it draws blood.

I wish her allergy was hype. I wish I didn’t worry that some little shit at school is going to flick peanut butter on her because they want to see what will happen. I wish I didn’t have to worry that some asshole adult would disregard her allergy and try to slip her something she shouldn’t eat (to prove SG’s not really allergic) because they thought food allergies were bunk. I wish I didn’t have to write a dissertation and spend a couple hundred dollars on medication to have on hand just in case at the beginning of every school year. I can think of at least 200 ways I would rather spend $200 and none of those ways would include prednisone, Benadryl, or an EpiPen.

I love, really love, that her school, her friends, her teachers, and other parents have been so accommodating. She has a couple of buddies who stopped bringing peanut butter for lunch because they didn’t want to make SG sick. The paras in the cafeteria wipe down her table with a clean cloth as a precaution. Other parents ask, “Can SG eat _____.” just in case. Last year her teacher called me more than a few times to double-check that the snack they were having that day was okay, “She says she’s had it before, I just want to make sure.”

Am I some sort of anti-allergy tyrant mother? No. Hardly. In SG’s backpack is a safe snack. I send her with her own lunch that is contained (re: doesn’t touch the cafeteria table just in case). I’ve assured the school that I don’t want her isolated at lunch, so she sits at the end of the lunch table and the child across from her and next to her don’t have nuts in their lunch. Her classroom is nut free and the other parents know it’s because of SG. I’ve also told them that if they have any questions or concerns to please call or email me. SG doesn’t remember her life before allergies so she knows what she can and can’t eat. She will ask. She is responsible. I am responsible.

I know there are parents out there (I’m looking at you Canadian Acorn Mom) who think the world needs to turn upside down and inside out because of their child’s allergies- you can’t expect that. You can’t. You educate the people in your kid’s life, you educate and empower your child and teach them how to be responsible for themselves. You teach them how to stay safe in a world that is full of people who don’t always wash their hands or wipe down surfaces after eating. You answer questions like, “What can she eat?” with a smile and patience even though it makes you want to pull out your hair. People who don’t live with food allergies find the subject mind-boggling (which it is. it SO is.). You cannot ask a city to cut down trees, pave over all the grass, or prevent gardeners from growing a tomato or strawberry. You cannot ask other parents to not let their kids eat peanuts ever. It creates an environment of resentment and puts children with allergies in the position of being the pariah. It paints parents of kids with allergies as controlling, demanding, and unreasonable which ultimately makes our kids unsafe because it fosters resentment.

And if you’re dead set on believing that food allergies are hype? Fine. Believe it. Just stay the hell away from my little girl.


2 thoughts on “Food allergies are really real (see also: believe the hype)

  1. My daughter was diagnosed with her peanut allergy 12 years ago. Her pediatrician gave me the advice I live by daily, “You will want to wrap her in bubble wrap and protect her. You mustn’t do that. Your job is to help her manage her allergy so she knows how to live with it.” And that’s what I have done. Even when we moved to an elementary school where the principal didn’t take it seriously when other kids threatened her with peanut butter, and I had to eat lunch with her daily for the last month of school. Short of transferring her for four weeks of school, that was my best option, and I was blessed to be home with kids at the time so I could do it. Food allergies are no joke, and the people who don’t get them are assholes.

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