Imagine your five-year-old child is sitting at a table eating lunch with some classmates when, all of a sudden, another child playfully sneaks up behind and puts their hands on your child’s face, trying to initiate a game of “Guess who?” Now imagine that child has just eaten a peanut butter sandwich and your child has an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.
Does the one teacher who is supervising the classroom of 30 students notice your child, who has by now fallen to the ground in shock? As your child’s throat quickly swells and closes, causing a loss of consciousness, is the supervising adult able to rush to an EpiPen and treat your child before the allergic reaction takes their life?
Fortunately for those parents who have children with serious nut allergies, most schools across Canada have banned nuts in classrooms. For one parent, however, this ban poses what she believes to be a serious problem.
A mother based in Waterloo, Ont. is challenging the school board to overturn the ban on nuts in school because her picky eater will only eat peanut butter sandwiches. Through a public online petition,the mother hopes to recruit other parents, like herself, who detest the district-wide nut ban, favouring easier lunch options for their fussy children.
She hopes to receive 50,000 signatures. To no surprise, she has not yet met her goal, with only 514 signatures from supporters listed on the site.
In the introduction to her petition, the mother shares, “I am a single mom with three kids under six, being told that my children do not have a right to attend public school because I pack nuts in their lunch. The children allergic to nuts are not deserving of more protection than any other allergic student.”
Many allergies do exist, but peanut allergies in particular are the most common cause of food-induced anaphylaxis - a life-threatening medical emergency that requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, Twinject) and a trip to the emergency room, so in my opinion, it’s a great place to start.
She ends her statement wildly with, “Should we kill all the bees because people are allergic to them?”
Be sure to grab a barf bag before you read the comments that are shared by the supportive signees, found at the end of the petition.
One commenter shares,“I'm so tired of society having to cede to people who feel their needs outweigh everyone else's. My children were also prevented from enjoying their favourite foods at school.”
Other commenters agree with this notion, saying things like, “Children that are not allergic shouldn’t be punished.”
The ban is not about inconveniencing busy parents by forcing them to choose a new ingredient to squash between two slices of bread. The nut-free school rule was put in place to save the lives of those children who could die from exposure.
I, too, am a busy working mother of three with very picky eaters, but when it comes to packing lunches, I play the role of parent, not peon. There are tons of other healthy lunch options available, and my children fully understand the risks to their friends when bringing nuts into the school. If you can’t look past the PB&Js that your kids love to eat, in order to save a life, then you’re the one who is nuts, not the school bans.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.