Monday, January 31, 2011

Walking on Eggshells

We realize the posting's been a bit heavy on the topic of food allergies lately but bear with us.  There will be funnier stuff soon.

This is important because we wanted to write about an incident which is a good example of the type of unpredictable scenario kids with food allergies face every day.

A letter went out to all the kindergarten parents.  They've been studying recycling for a while and have now moved on to composting.  It talked about all the fun kids had bringing in things from home to make the compost, including eggshells.  Now mini, the anti-dirt city girl, is not going anywhere near the compost even if they promised her cake every day.  But still, it's raw egg.  In the classroom.

So we emailed the teachers.  Would they mind excluding the egg from the compost, if it wasn't too much too ask?

Here's where it's important to pay attention.

This type of scenario comes up ALL the time, a random non-food time when food allergies are a concern where you'd least expect it.  For non-food allergy parents, you'd be surprised how often stuff like this is an issue.  You can never foresee every possible scenario, which is additional reason why the teachers need to know what to do when this stuff comes up, not if.  And what they need to do in case of emergency.  Because you can minimize the risk of exposure, but as this incident shows, you can never eliminate it.  Random stuff like this will always come up. 

At this point, the teachers had two options.  Lose the egg, or turn it into a whole thing.  And seriously, is there any reason to fight FOR the egg?  Who cares?  Just lose it, the compost will be fine.  And this is exactly what they did.   They apologized profusely for not catching it and said no big deal - it was thrown out and forgotten.

DONE! Was that hard?  NO!

So Poker Chick has to ask - why why WHY is it the case where in so many other schools, the scenario would have played out differently?  What's so important about fighting for the eggs in that compost?  What are we missing?  Seriously, can anyone tell us?

Poker Chick will never understand why parents often get so much pushback in these types of situations.  But if more people followed the example of these teachers, this debate would simply be over. 

NYC schools have used examples like this as rationale for not going nut free.  They're worried about the liability.  They claim that since they can't guarantee all foods are safe they could never guarantee a nut-free environment.  As such, they serve peanut butter and jelly in the cafeteria.  Every day.  Can anyone follow this logic?  We can't.  Of course you can't guarantee a nut free environment.  As this incident shows, despite best intentions, you can never guarantee no exposure.  But if you can significantly reduce exposure, why the hell wouldn't you? 

So a few lessons here:

1) Education.  For those of you who don't deal with food allergies every day, we hope this will further help you understand what life is like when you have to deal with this.  Perhaps if more people will read it they will be more empathetic and open to learning about what to do.

2) A wake-up call.  For those managing food allergies, you can never be complacent.  There will always be some risk of exposure you can never predict.  That's why it's important to always have an emergency plan - in case.  That's much more important than trying to predict every possible hypothetical.

3) A role model.  This little scenario was no big deal.  In fact, it would probably have been forgotten had we not decided to write about it.  The interaction was easy, stress-free for all sides, and the child was protected.  Hopefully this will remind people that when talking with people managing food allergies you have a choice.  You can make it into a big deal or you can take on a minor inconvenience to protect someone and forget about it.

Think about it.  In the meantime, we'll be busy writing thank you letters to our wonderfully supportive school.  And, of course, updating our school allergy plans to specify "no eggshells in compost".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's like having a second full-time job.