Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Rant (mainly) About a Cupcake

I'm sure you could look at this situation from the other mom's point of view but this is my blog and I'll rant if I want to.

Before school started Max's teacher and I talked about food allergies and birthday celebrations and she decided it would be best to just encourage parents to bring in fresh fruit for a celebration snack. I think this is great on many levels. Besides cutting down on the food allergy worries it keeps kids from loading up on sugar before lunch which is when birthday celebrations are scheduled. Just personally, I also don't know why food must always be the center of any celebration. Montessori does a lovely ceremony, involving the child walking around a lit candle the number of years he has been on earth to symbolize the sun going around the earth while the teacher talks about each year of the child's life. The child gets to be the center of attention and made to feel very special. Why add food to this?

So when on Friday, Max's teacher said another mom wanted to bring in cupcakes for her son's celebration (he was having a party on Sunday) I felt a little worried. Max's teacher gave her a recipe and strict instructions on which products and cross contamination. I still felt worried and called her Sunday.

Her son wasn't feeling well on Monday so the celebration was pushed to Tuesday. I finally got in contact with the mom Monday night. She was exasperated with the recipe. Here are some of her exasperations:

"The recipe looks so hard!"

"I don't have all the right ingredients."

"I'm not much of a baker."

"I'm sure every pan and bowl we have has had egg in it at some point."

"I didn't know someone could be allergic to eggs!"

"What do you feed him?" (When I told her he was also allergic to milk, peanuts and tree nuts)

(And my favorite) "My son just doesn't like fruit. Really. He just doesn't like it."

So I listened patiently and then did what she was really asking for. I let her off the hook. I told her to make whatever her son wanted and I would send something safe for Max. At which point she offered to make my son a fruit kabob! Come on, my kid is pretty good about his allergies but if everyone around him is eating cupcakes he's not going to be happy with a fruit kabob.

She gave the obligatory "I just don't want him to feel left out." which in return I gave the obligatory "Don't worry, this is our life and he is used to it. He hasn't known anything different." Blah, blah, blah. Why do I have to make other people feel good about my son's allergies when they want to go against the class rules and bring cupcakes because their son doesn't like fruit?

And another thing: When buying the usual (and only kind which were safe for us) chocolate chip cookies at Whole Foods today, I noticed the labeling was different. It now says they contain milk (even though I couldn't find milk in the ingredient list) AND it said it CONTAINED (not even MAY contain) trace amounts of peanut, tree nut and egg. Followed by good manufacturing practices used, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is completely different from previous labeling and it pissed me off.

AND ANOTHER THING! The person hosting our usual weekly afternoon playgroup sent out directions and indicated that she would be serving goldfish crackers and brownies as a snack. I emailed back that we wouldn't be coming. Somedays even I get tired of dealing with our allergies. And do we really need goldfish and brownies right before dinner?

Okay, done ranting.


allergicmom said...

I'm totally with you on this rant. I'm glad that my preschool is totally friendly for my son's allergies, but I'm not looking forward to next year when he's in kindergarten, and things will get harder for us.

My mantra is, "whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." And right now, he's becoming so much stronger, personality-wise, because of his allergies and restrictions.

emma said...

my house can be allergy friendly - just tell me when you want to come over :)(most afternoons we're good)

Ariel said...

When I visited LANK a few weeks ago, they told me that they try to get parents to bring in popsicles for birthday treats. This seemed like a great option to me, since they are a special-occasion treat and are pretty hypo-allergenic.

Livin' Life said...

I came across your blog from a friend of mines. I really appreciate your honesty. Our school has various allergy issues and I have had to adapt things for my sons class because of this. I have never gone against another moms wishes about allergy issues but your post makes me now realize my need to be understanding really try to help. I like the popsicle comment too. That is a great idea. Thank you again.

Durham Famiy said...

I just came across your blog as it was included in my daily "Google Alerts" for food allergies.

My 5 year old is also analphylactic to milk, beef and all the permutations of it. He outgrew corn, wheat & eggs early on but milk is still going strong.

I read several of your posts and know EXACTLY what you are going through. It is such a struggle that so very few understand and it takes a team... it truly does. I've even gotten out of the habit of using the word "allergy" and replaced with with "anaphylactic" since it carry's more weight.

Good luck and stop by my blog: www.durhamfamily.blogdrive.com

sarah said...

I could have written your blog today. My son, who is extremely allergic to peanuts and eggs, was preparing to go to a birthday party at his preschool.

We recently received news that his tests indicate that his peanut allergy is worsening, and I was explaining to the moms waiting at pickup that the class was going to start using handwashing at the beginning of the day to make sure the kids were not bringing in peanut protein.

I truly understand that many kids LOVE peanut butter, and that it is a staple of many kids' diets. I love it, too. But for the sake of my child's health, I was asking them to be extra careful about handwashing and bringing in peanut-free cupcakes for celebrations. One mother's response: "you just don't understand how frustrating this can be when you have a picky eater that will only eat peanut butter. What am I supposed to feed him?"

I wanted to kill her, but I refrained. Instead, I brought her a jar of Sunbutter (sold at Whole Foods, and the closest to real peanut butter in taste that I have found) to let her kids try. I figure that educating others is one of the most important ways I can handle this type of reaction.

On another, more positive note, if you need a cupcake mix for yourself or for another parent who wants to bring in allergy-free cupcakes, try Cherrybrook Kitchen's Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix.

This mix is peanut, tree nut, dairy and egg free, and the muffins/cupcakes are delicious. Sometimes I add a can of pureed pumpkin to the mix and feed them to the kids (and myself) for breakfast. It is one of their new products, and I purchase it at Whole Foods.