OK, I'm gonna be honest, when I first read your post on the Huff Post Blog titled, Why Do Your Kid's Allergies Mean My Kid Can't Have a Birthday? I wanted to jump through my computer screen and find you so that I could shake you by the shoulders and yell.
My wits and senses were scattered throughout my living room while I processed the stance you laid out in your post. Eventually I calmed down and gathered them all up. But my poor husband is still reeling from my nonstop explaining to him all the things I wanted to say to you. So now that I have calmed down, I want to tell you something.
Your stance is every allergy parent's worst nightmare.
Let's just look at your message on the persecution you feel because your child's school does not allow homemade baked goods due to the allergies of the kids in the classroom. Here you describe how you are sensitive to the issue of allergies because you yourself have an egg white allergy. That's nice. But then you go on to basically say, and I'm paraphrasing, of course, "Tough titty, other kids! My kidlet deserves to enjoy a birthday celebration with homemade cupcakes at school. Allergy kids are not more important than my angel!" You can see how this makes you seem a bit....awful, right?
Moving forward, I have so much to say to you so let's do this. Your words are in brown. My responses are in black. Here we go.
"All over the country parents are being asked to accommodate the specialized needs of other people's children thanks to the skyrocketing number of food allergies and food intolerances. (They both have similar symptoms, but intolerances are generally considered less serious and not life-threatening.) We can't bring in homemade cookies or snacks; we're asked to buy commercially prepared goods. Even if you agree to bring in commercially prepared snacks, you're asked to make sure they're "gluten, nut, and egg-free" or some other combination of scary food exorcism [Sounds like a pain in the butt].
To a certain extent, I get it [Yay!] . When I was in high school, a girl in my town died from eating a few bites of a Twix bar that happened to contain traces of peanuts. Many allergies can be deadly, even in tiny increments. If a child in the same homeroom as my son could go into anaphylactic shock and die due to allergies, I think we have a communal responsibility to keep him or her safe [Excellent! You understand!] . I would never endanger the life of a child over a peanut butter cookie; that would be ridiculous [Wonderful] .
However, I am rapidly reaching the end of my rope as I try to accommodate what feels like every child in the universe. Schools ask parents to bring items, to provide snacks and to help with class parties and celebrate birthdays. My children's school requires that we only provide store-bought treats because some children have allergies or dietary restrictions. One mom told me there were so many allergies in her children's classes last year that all she could bring was gummy bears and juice boxes [ True story: Kids LOVE juice boxes and gummy bears!].
"Let me get this straight: I'm supposed to feed my kids processed, preservative-laden food because your kid has a wheat allergy? No. I don't want to. [Cool! No one told you that you had to! They are just asking you to not endanger other children.] I want my kid to have the made-from-scratch cupcakes, the ones made with fresh butter, sugar and yes, real flour with real gluten in it, and not a commercially prepared cupcake that has an ingredient list a mile long. [Awesome! Your kid is lucky to have those cupcakes! Why do they need to be at school though? Do you not celebrate your child's birthday at home too?] How could that possibly be better? Not to mention that commercially prepared items are expensive [ They sure are! Here is a list of other things you could bring: Fresh fruit with marshmallow dip, suckers, stickers, temporary tattoos, jelly beans, glow sticks are always fun, Jello cups, Skittles, Laffy Taffy, Twizzlers, Blow Pops, Starburts, fruit snacks, Swedish Fish, Smarties, Ring pops, fruit leather or roll-ups. ]
I understand the problem with allergies because I have allergies; I'm allergic to egg whites [ So is my daughter. Does your throat close when you eat them? Hers does. It sucks.] . The difference is I don't demand egg-free items when I go to parties or to work events [And also that you are a grown woman, not a child at school but whatever] I don't always get to eat what people are serving, but I certainly don't demand that my friend make me a separate cake for me on her birthday ["Demand" is the word you are using. No one else is using it. Just you. Also, does your friend celebrate her birthday by coming to where you HAVE to be and eating her egg saturated cake in front of you? That would be rude of your friend.]
It makes sense to ban certain items when children are too young to ask and avoid foods that they might have sensitivities toward. But once we cross a threshold, personal responsibility and parental education need to come into play [ I agree. You have crossed that threshold. You need some education on this issue] . I agree that a teacher should let all parents know about any life-threatening allergies in a classroom. However, my kid shouldn't have to forgo his birthday cake because yours can't eat it [ uh, I agree? Just make it at home and enjoy it there!]
Some schools have even gone the route of banning all classroom birthdays and celebrations, which is ridiculous. The fear of one shouldn't outweigh the rest [ Its not just a fear, Carina. It is a very real and potentially deadly food]. We don't always get to eat things we want to eat [Truth. Sometimes we don't get to eat cupcakes at school. You are not being oppressed here] . Sometimes I have to say no to your tasty, egg-laden brownies [Here's an excellent egg-free brownierecipe] . Sometimes my kid doesn't eat something because it has nuts, and he simply doesn't like them. Sometimes your kid with allergies can't eat my kid's birthday cake [ Do I need to point out the difference between not liking something and it being a deadly ingredient? Does that actually need pointed out? Like for real?]
Let's stop the allergy insanity, and let the rest of them eat cake [at home!] -- the lovely, homemade, buttery, gluten-stuffed cake. [That sounds delicious. Can I come over to your house and have some? I promise to leave my food allergic child at home so that she doesn't annoy you with her sadness as she watches us eat those awesome cupcakes you made.] "
(all quoted italicized text is from here)
In short, Carina, I want to thank you for your honest and loud voice. Because it reminded me that I don't get to stop being on guard for my daughter. It reminds me that you are out there judging the severity of my child's allergies without ever having met her or me or her allergist. You remind me that I have work to do in preparing her and her school for her going to Kindergarten.
Sadly, you also remind me that I am still considering homeschooling her for the first few years because of attitudes like yours. You know, just for the first few years while she is still so young and could make a deadly mistake at school. Then when she's old enough, I'll send her on to public school knowing she can keep herself safe. Then the only thing I have to worry about is toughening her up so she doesn't come home crying because all the other kids at school got to enjoy your super special buttery and homemade cupcakes while she sat and watched.
So yeah, thanks for that.
PS: You seem to think that anaphalctic shock is the only result worthy of making concessions so I thought I'd show you this. This is what happens to my daughter's body when one of her allergens touches her skin. Her throat doesn't close with this particular one. She just gets incredibly uncomfortable and claws at her skin until it bleeds. Not life threatening, just painful and awful. And guess what? Those cupcakes you want to bring? I would bet a million bucks that they include the ingredient that does this to her. So come on, just have your awesome cupcakes at home and send your kid to school with a safer option. Please?