Having a child with food allergies guarantees one thing: CONFLICT. For the safety of your child, you are asking others to change their eating habits in some situations. Before your child eats food his teacher has made, you are asking probing questions about her food prep methods. Of course there will be conflict!
The hardest situations I have had to handle seem to come out of nowhere. For example, my dear daughter came home from school one day saying her class was throwing peanuts at kids on the school playground. What? Yes, and her allergic brother was on the playground at the same time with his class at recess.
My first thought was to call the principal and start yelling. But thankfully dear daughter is very good at details. So my questions for her were:
- Were they targeting her brother?
- Was brother hit by any peanuts?
- How many classes were involved?
- Why were they throwing peanuts?
It turned out that some preteen boys and girls were flirting with each other in dear daughter’s class. They were not targeting our son and he was not hit by any flying peanuts. Only her class was involved.
I emailed my concern over this behavior to her teacher only. She was surprised by the kids’ behavior and understood my concerns. The next day the teacher had a serious talk with my daughter’s class. According to my daughter, her teacher covered these points:
- Food is not allowed on the playground.
- It is disrespectful to throw food at someone.
- Kids with food allergies are put at risk when food is thrown.
That was the end of the whole situation. Here are the things that did not happen:
- No new rules were needed.
- The principal was not involved.
- Kids throwing peanuts were corrected by their teacher without being embarrassed.
- Other parents did not have to be notified.
- Dear son’s name was not mentioned.
- My relationship with my daughter’s teacher not damaged.
- No social media platforms were used in the situation.
I know I was lucky in this incident. If my daughter’s teacher had not understood my email, I would have needed to follow up with the principal. If the principal was not supportive, then I would have needed the school nurse, or the cluster superintendent, or an outside advocate like FAAN to step in. If the kids had been bullying my son, then completely different measures would have been called for.
What would you have done? Comments welcome.