I don't want to misquote anyone here. It is hard to remember a conversation word for word but this is the way I recall it. We were back to the subject of food allergies (honestly I need to figure out how to NOT talk about food allergies to others all the time). One of the women in the group runs an at home preschool. Someone asked her how she handled food allergies and she said, "Oh, I just weed them out." Meaning she just doesn't take kids with food allergies. She went on to say how hard it was and what a "nightmare" one of the first kids she had was, what with the hand washing and avoidance and all. She threw in an "oh, the drama." and mentioned how the mom hadn't wanted her child to always eat alone because it would make her feel "sad." She also said "No offense to Max." (maybe she should have just said "No offense to you" because I was the one feeling my blood pressure rise). I said something like "I guess I won't be sending Owen to you."
It is hard for me not to take that personally. Today I feel hurt and a little confused and disappointed. I want to make friends and yet sometimes feel like my kids food allergies even put me on the outside of things.
But to address a few points of view:
1. Screening kids for entry to her preschool is perfectly legal. She can take or not take anyone she wants.
2. A child being ostracized because of food IS sad. The day I walked into my own son's preschool and saw him sitting alone in the corner while the other children were gathered around tables eating cheese pizza, I felt sad. I fear the social implications of my kids' food allergies almost as much as I fear anaphalaxis. In the end of course I want them alive but at the same time how do I keep them from being alone, on the outside, always different from the other kids?
3. Handwashing. Children can have extreme reactions to food residue. Max remained contact reactive to milk until he was about three and still I'm sure would have a skin reaction to any of his other allergens.
4. Oh, the drama. Honestly, I hate people who create drama and I try to go through my life creating as little drama as possible. Yes, I worry about how my kids food allergies impact others. I worry people won't understand. I worry they will resent my child. I worry that they will choose to ignore that my child has life threatening food allergies. And for thoses reasons I try to make it as easy as I can for his preschool teachers and other parents. I don't ask that all foods in the room be completely safe. I do ask that you let me know you are bringing cupcakes to celebrate your child's birthday so I can provide something for Max.
My son's allergies like millions (yes, millions 2.2 million school-age children) are life-threatening. Food allergies are the leading cause of anaphalaxis causing 30,000 ER visits and 150-200 deaths every year. http://www.foodallergy.org/downloads/FoodAllergyBasics.pdf
So to me drama would be if my son had a reaction in front of your child, if the teacher had to give him the Epi-Pen in front of the students she is teaching, if the EMT's had to rush my son from the classroom to the hospital, if my son died in front of you. That is drama.