My Kid Doesn't Need Peanut Butter For Lunch. And Neither Does Yours.

I think that there are qualities that we can all, as parents, agree that we hope to instill in our children. We hope that they will grow up to be independent and confident. We hope that they will be self-motivated and resilient. And I think we all hope that we are raising children who will be kind and compassionate adults.

So it truly blows my mind when I see adults - adults who consider themselves to be kind, compassionate people, adults who I generally consider to be kind, compassionate people - throwing temper tantrums about not being able to pack their kid a peanut butter sandwich in their school lunch.

This issue makes its way across my social media feeds way more often than I would like and I am somehow freshly horrified each time. I recently saw a Facebook post from someone that I generally like and respect asking why the kids with peanut butter allergies can't just eat lunch in a closet.

Yeah. You read that right. Why they can't eat lunch in a closet.

I didn't comment on it because I generally try not to engage in social media battles but I am fairly certain that this person, who is a parent of two small children, would not want their son or daughter to have to eat lunch in a closet. I mean, for goodness sake, do I even really need to spend time explaining everything that is wrong with that?

One of the comments that I see most frequently about this is, "Why should my kid have to suffer because one of the kids in his class is allergic to peanuts?"

Let's get clear on something. Your child is not suffering because they have to eat something other than PB&J for lunch.

You know who is suffering? The kid in Uganda who doesn't have access to clean drinking water. The kid in Syria who is growing up in a literal war zone.

You know who else is suffering? The kid going into anaphylactic shock because you decided to send a peanut butter sandwich to school, even though you know that there is a policy against it.

But your kid is not suffering because they need to eat their second favorite thing for lunch. Sorry. (Not sorry.)

This may be a good time to mention that neither one of my children has food allergies. I have no personal stake in the peanut free policies other than that I don't want to see any child in danger and I also don't want to see any child unnecessarily excluded or singled out. And I certainly don't want to see any child have to eat lunch in a closet so that my kid can have a peanut butter sandwich.

Imagine for one moment that your child is being forced to eat lunch alone or is in potential danger because of another child's lunch. It's easy to say that you wouldn't expect other parents to accommodate your child but I think you would hope that they would, because it's the decent thing to do.

Listen, I get that some kids are picky eaters. I have two of them myself. And, for awhile, PB&J was one of the only foods that they would both eat. But if they have classmates who could potentially get very sick or even die if they are in the same room with peanut butter, then my kids are going to have to suck it up and eat something else. It takes about 5 seconds of research on Pinterest to find peanut free lunch ideas for even the pickiest kids. And if they decide to go on a hunger strike because it's not what they preferred, so be it. They'll get over it. They won't starve themselves. And, in the process, they will learn that life isn't always all about them and what they prefer. Sometimes, they need to consider what is best for other people.

And if sending my kid in with a peanut free lunch means that another mom can get through her day without worrying that her baby has had a potentially fatal allergic reaction, then I can do that. In fact, I'm happy to do that.

Compassion and kindness. They are two of the most important things that we can hope for our children to be. And teaching them can be as simple as what we put in their lunchboxes.

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