Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Peanut Gallery

You know that show about that redneck guy named Earl?  You know how he learns about the idea of karmic retribution and he makes that list of all the wrongs that he sets out to right?  If, in fact, karmic retribution is real and true, my advice to you would be this:  Do not roll your eyes at the "no peanuts allowed" sign.  Ever.  Here's why.

In September of 2004, my older child began his pre-school experience.  As we entered the class for the first time, I saw the sign on the door.  "This is a peanut-free classroom".  And I rolled my eyes. At that point in time, my finicky son pretty much existed on peanut butter sandwiches alone (crusts cut off, please).  So after a year of plain crackers for lunch, I was hopeful the following school year would involve peanuts.

September of 2005 - I had my fingers crossed as we entered the new classroom and there was that pesky sign again!  And again.  And again...  And each time, I rolled my eyes.  Sometimes,  I even let out an exasperated sigh.

Fast forward to the arrival of our second child.  Sometime around her 18th month, we decided to introduce her to Daddy's other girl - Little Debbie.  A Nutty Bar, to be exact.  Our daughter eagerly accepted the peanut buttery wafer and held it in her mouth for a moment.  One short moment.  Then she whined a bit and refunded the offering.  Huh.   "Maybe it's the texture", I offered.  "Peanut butter is a bit pasty, you know".  We gave her a single piece of peanut butter crunch cereal.  Same reaction.  Huh.  Nutter Butter cookie?  Out it went.  Double huh.  We figured she just wasn't ready for such a sophisticated foodstuff.  Perhaps it's an acquired taste.

A few months down the road, we revisited the nutty experiment.  A Reeses piece, a peanut butter chip, and a peanut butter granola bite.  No, no and no.  She just wasn't having it.  It was then that I wondered about a peanut allergy, although she hadn't reacted with any of the things I associated with peanut allergies.  No rash, vomiting, or anaphylactic shock.  I wanted to believe she just didn't care for peanut butter the way our older child didn't care for brussel sprouts.  

So on my daughter's first day of pre-school, when the teacher asked us to list any food or drug allergies, I wrote "Possibly peanut.  Not sure though.  Maybe not.  But maybe yes.  SO...just in case - maybe no peanuts?"  And up went that sign.  And yes  -  I caught a couple of eyerolls.  Karmic retribution, indeed.

NOTE:  Shortly after beginning pre-school, my daughter had food allergy testing and was found to be severely allergic to peanuts.  This is a very scary situation and it's wise to take the following precautions:

1) Alert any caretakers, classmates and their parents, friends, neighbors, relatives, teachers, and school staff about the allergy. 

2)  Carry an epi-pen at all times - or two, since it can sometimes take two doses to treat an attack.

3)  Have an extra pair of epi-pens for school, day care, Grandma's house, etc...

4)  Have your child wear a medical bracelet (or badge, sticker, temporary tattoo)

5)  Read labels very very carefully.

6)  Carry your own snacks and do not allow your child to swap or share snacks.

7)  Talk to the child about their allergy.  Of course, you don't want to overdo it.  My daughter is hesitant to eat donuts because it has the word "nut" in it.  But maybe this is a good thing.

8)  Have your child re-tested periodically to see if there is any change.  Some children do outgrow peanut allergies.

9)  Read all about it.  I found this to be one of the best websites on the topic.

10)  Be careful when dining out.  Many ethnic foods regularly use peanut ingredients without it being obvious.

11)  Watch out for cross contamination - both in foods and on surfaces.  People think I am OCD because I carry an obscene amount of purell and wet wipes to use in eating establishments.

11)  Ignore people who roll their eyes about it.  They'll get theirs.  Totally kidding!  I don't really believe my daughter has peanut allergies due to karmic retribution.  I just try to use humor to soften things a bit.  No hate mail, please.