I have so many reactions to this article I read today in Huffington Post called, “Why Do Your Kid’s Allergies Mean My Kid Can’t Have a Birthday?” By Carina Hoskisson. I’m going to limit myself to 6 points.
1) I love to read a fully thought out explanation of the other side of this great debate. It can be hard to really get at the heart of why some people are against classroom food limitations when all they do is defend their “right to eat whatever they want” without showing any understanding of the real issue. This mom seems to at least understand what the issue is and she addresses it.
2) I will never hold others responsible for providing my child with a safe alternative. That’s my job and I’m equipped for it. You tell me when the treats are coming and I will make sure my child has a safe alternative.
3) The assertion that allergy free=unhealthy is ignorant. Period.
4) The comparison of a child being left out of a celebration because they are allergic to the treat to her child choosing not to eat a treat because he doesn’t like it is a ridiculous one. One is a life threatening condition that deprives children of treats they wish they could have which others are enjoying around them. The other is a preference and a choice not to eat something that has been offered and you could safely accept. Seriously????
5) The idea that you cannot have a celebration at school without cupcakes/cookies/brownies is part of why we’re facing a childhood obesity epidemic. Every celebration does not have to revolve around junk food or food at all. There are so many wonderful alternatives. One blogger, Cooking For Stella, suggests a book donation on her Facebook post where I originally saw this article posted. Yep, bring a guest reader from home to read a new book and donate it to your classroom library. Fantastic!
6) You are right about one thing. You absolutely have a right not to show compassion and understanding. Just because a child who is born with a life threatening illness that causes them to be excluded from life’s little celebrations daily does not mean you have to show any consideration for their feelings or well-being whatsoever. Kindness cannot be demanded. It is optional. All I know is, we have been shown great kindness and understanding anyway from so many people around us. It’s a choice and those who choose love and compassion are touching lives. They are also teaching their children by example how to do the same.
By the way, if you choose to exercise your right to withhold compassion, you might be interested in the tutorial How To Crush A Food Allergy Mom.
I just want to add that my daughter came home from her Valentine’s Day celebration at school this week and we began the usual examination of her bag to remove all of the treats for label reading and inspection. The class had not been specifically told what to send, although they are all aware of her allergies. EVERY SINGLE VALENTINE was safe for her, with the exception of one sneaky cross contamination label. (Yes, I just teared up writing that sentence.) How many people think the other kids felt deprived or slighted because the candy was allergy safe? I’m guessing zero. We are so lucky to be surrounded by a group of loving human beings who choose compassion.