The Mum Network

Why the parents of allergy kids have become fun spoilers……


*This post comes with a disclaimer – *I HAVE AN ALLERGY KID and secondly  *MOST ALLERGY PARENTS I KNOW ARE NICE NORMAL PEOPLE WHO GET IT BUT THE ONES WHO DON’T ARE SPOLIING IT FOR EVERYONE.

Once upon a time in a land far far away……..four pretty epic allergy stories happened.

  1. A child came home from school pretty upset about Pancake Day at school. Most other classes were allowed to have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday but his class were not allowed because the teacher felt bad that the allergy kids couldn’t eat the Pancakes. His siblings got pancakes but he didn’t. His mother told him to toughen up and deal with it. So he did.  It’s a pity the allergy kids couldn’t do the same.
  2. A mother went on an excursion and was given bags of lollies for the 6 year olds she was charged with. She had two types of lollies, one for the non allergy kids and some type of all natural, no sugar, no glucose lollies for one allergy kid.

    When she went to give the lollies out, the allergy kid held her hand out for a normal lolly.  With PLENTY of hands in the circle, the mother didn’t think the 6 year old would put her hand out for a normal lolly because the little child KNEW there were special lollies for her BUT SHE DID AND THE MUM DIDN’T SEE HER HAND TAKE ONE AND THE KID ATE THE NORMAL FRIGGING LOLLY.

    The excursion mother nearly had a heart attack but it turns out the kid wasn’t allergic at all, her mother was simply a health nut who feared her child would turn into a jelly baby if she ate one. The neurotic mother had everyone convinced that the kid was allergic. The kid was so controlled that Mum wasn’t even letting her eat a harmless lolly on a school excursion (yes, judging).

  3. The third thing that happened (in this land FAR FAR FAR away) were 30 little kids who were studying Thailand as a subject at school. As part of this topic, the school did an annual walk down to the local Thai restaurant. With many kids having older siblings they ALL looked forward to this excursion. The year these kids were heading off, ONE mother called up and complained that her child was allergic to peanuts and therefore it was unfair that he wouldn’t be able to eat anything. The excursion was cancelled forevermore.
  4. The last incident started in 1982 when a mother realized it was a frighteningly hot day at her daughter’s local school athletics carnival. She turned up with 300 ice blocks for every student in the school. 31 years later her daughter remembered how cool it was that Mum did that and she called her children’s school to see if she could do the same on what was a 45+ degree  day. The answer was no. Why? Allergy kids.

I will say first and foremost that I totally understand and respect the no peanut policy across all schools and pre-schools. I have been in my own house and seen what peanuts did to my little cousin who is severely allergic. It’s FRIGHTENING and it can kill in minutes. If we didn’t have an epi pen in the house, God only knows what would have happened. The question is, however, will it stop at a peanut ban or are we already at a point where egg, banana, dairy, wheat and other things will be banned too?

After consulting Dr Google, the reasons why we have more allergy kids than ever before are because:

1: We’re too hygienic

2: The Western Diet (additives and pesticides used in fresh and packages foods)

3: Genetically modified foods (mostly in packaged foods)

4: New Milk proteins

5: Chemical cleaners

6: Food avoidance – building no resistance

7: C-Sections (Yep, a study of 40,000 families showed that babies born via c-section were five times more likely to have allergies)

Whatever the reasons, we cannot be intolerant of kids with allergies. It sucks and it’s NOT their fault, shit happens and it’s not fair that shit happened to them.

 My gripe is not with allergy kids, it’s with their over bearing helicopter parents who have become fun spoilers for everyone.  Why does an entire class have to miss an excursion because little Jonny can’t eat peanuts or an entire school miss an ice block because Jack is allergic to emulsifiers?  When do the parents teach the children that their condition means the kid may miss out?

My 3 year old is allergic to almost ALL emulsifiers and most dairy products.  That means no cakes (birthday cakes are a no go) and very few packaged goods. He’s slowly but surely worked out that the tingle on his tongue, swelling of his throat and impending asthma attack simply aren’t worth a few short seconds of chocolate pleasure. He’s never been the easiest child to raise but when it comes to what he can and can’t eat, he just gets it and we have been very consistent ALL THE TIME. He understands that he misses out on cake and he is fine with it.

Rather than teaching their children from a young age what they can and can’t eat, kids are arriving at school with NO LIFE skills whatsoever and are never exposed to foods they may one day have to say no to. These parents are ON THE PHONE TO SCHOOLS all the time complaining that Little Jonny may be exposed to an egg on pancake day and they’re not giving their kids ANY sense of responsibility to take care of their own allergy.

So the solution? Teach the children to deal with their allergy, its causes, symptoms and treatment. Give them REAL SKILLS on how to cope in the REAL WORLD because school is only a short time and high schools are WAY less allergy friendly than primary schools.

If food can’t be opened or eaten in the classrooms due to allergies, then let the kids out onto the playground and make the pancakes there and Jonny can stay inside.

If we have to cancel all school activities because some kids may miss out then I really think we need to consider:

  • Cancelling all swimming carnivals because some kids may drown because they can’t swim.
  • Cancelling all athletics carnivals because some kids may have asthma attacks and stop breathing.
  • Cancelling all academic awards because all the sports kids may feel dumb and get depressed that someone is smarter than them.

You get the idea, where does it stop?

This lies with the parents. Start being sensible and stop being fun spoilers for others. When my 3 year old gets to school I’m not going to try to ban birthday cakes because he can’t eat them.

Rant over.

 

8 comments

  1. Here-here! It’s getting ridiculous. There are also so many parents self-diagnosing allergies in their children that it’s getting harder for us in the education sector to take allergies seriously and determine which ones are life threateningly fatal and which are a result of some helicopter parent who’s spent too much time Google-ing.
    And again, don’t get me wrong, My brother grew up with the very life-threatening (and at the time, very new to us) anaphylaxis allergy to peanuts (such as that which was discussed in this blog entry)… but there’s a way of dealing with this that isn’t so dramatic. WE don’t need to be so precious about it. There are so many ways around addressing caring for children with severe allergies without depriving those around them.
    And let’s start with official diagnosis. Every second person thinks they’re allergic to something- but most of them aren’t. They may be intolerant, or they may be disillusion, either way, this can’t be confused with an allergy…. feeling bloated and not being able to breathe are too very different things… there’s also a big difference in needing to be given a does of anti-histamine and needing to have a giant needle of adrenalin pumped into your thigh… so let’s be real people.

    It was brave of you to write this, and I’m with you. the cotton-wooling thing has been going on long enough; when children with allergies grow up and enter the ‘real world’ it’s not going to be so kind and understanding. The time to build the foundations for living proactively with an allergy, is while they’re growing up… or what’s going to happen on their first date? first day of work? first overseas holiday????
    Funnily enough, my brother (now 24) has lived a very fulfilled life and handles his allergy maturely, with grace and good humour. Most people that know him are aware of his allergy and to be honest, act with caution… but it doesn’t define him…and he makes choices every day that are based on his situation… because he learned how to….
    End Rant #2

  2. Preachy

    What I don’t get (as the mother of children who do not have severe allergies, they DO have intolerances which are painful and nasty, no teen needs sudden explosive diarrhoea in public, but they are not fatal), is why it has to be suck it up if a child misses a treat for the greater good- there is more than one way to skin a proverbial kitty, after all. If my son misses baking, he still comes out beaming because a TA has taken him aside to read a favourite book; on Thai day couldn’t school have negotiated a suitable alternative, either a day off (actually enforced at my kid’s old school- you don;t join in then go home, not our job. Harsh when they include kids whose parents cannot pay for trips in that but I digress), or something similar. I know teacher / TA resources are scarce but there’s usually a parent or two willing to release a checked staff member for such things, and these days often enough allergy kids to warrant it.

    And there are very few things that can’t be done safely. Maybe not the Thai trip, but pancakes can be made gluten, dairy or egg free; Most things can, especially in this day and age of searchable recipe databases. But it takes willingness and flexibility, across the team.

    Can I also add that it’s not always parents? My son can’t have milk and due to his autism won’t drink any replacement except coconut milk. the allergy child wasn’t allergic to that, but as the word nut is in coconut it was forbidden anyway.

  3. A

    My father great up with a severe nut allergy. As did his brother (yes, I know nut allergies don’t often run In families). They both did so long before the idea of their problem leading to their friends and classmates having to miss out on peanut butter in their lunches. This was not a problem.

    My uncle, as an adult, died of his nut allergy (in a time before epi-pens).

    My father ended up as the superintendent in a school board who consistently voted AGAINST banning nuts from schools, believing that it is up to the parents to teach their kids the necessary life skills to survive, and and it is up to the kids to have to learn to self regulate and ask questions before they eat unfamiliar things.

    He could stand up, as I can, and look a worried parent in the face and say, even though the worst has happened to our family, I still believe that living in a bubble and depriving all those around is not logical.

    I fully agree. You can’t live in a bubble forever, so learn to deal with it as early as possible.

  4. It’s funny that it just seems to be the story of our society. Instead of addressing the problem in a way that we can easily control (i.e. teach your kids the skills to deal with their allergies on their own), we want to control all of society and prevent the situation all together.
    These parents are not helping their kids. These poor children need to learn how to deal with their allergies on their own so that they know what to do if a situation arises. Mom and Dad cannot be there ALL THE TIME to hold their hand.
    The other kids can also learn from this, and depriving them is not the way to do it. If Little Johnny’s classmates know that he has allergies, maybe they can help him out instead of being “punished” for something that is our of their hands.
    Anyway, great post!

  5. Adele

    I fully agree with you. My son was praying that this would be the year he could take peanut butter sandwiches to school. He hasn’t been able to since kindy. Thankfully we are nut allergy free this year, but now he can’t take strawberries (including strawberry jam) to school. So that’s a bit disappointing, but thankfully there are lots of other jam varieties out there…

    Anyway, I agree that the parents could make this allergy journey alot easier for all concerned. We don’t need the Fun Police presiding over all events. Just take responsibility for your own child, work with them, educate the child and manage it.

    A friend of mine had her child’s friend over for a party. One invited child turned out to be Vegan. no warning, no advance notice. My friend was stuck for options and felt very ill-informed. As the parent of that child would you not think you would give people a “heads-up”. We are not all Vegan-savvy.

    Anyway, thanks for writing the article.

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