Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peanuts, and other examples of the Golden Rule

Today, on Momlogic, I read an article that got my dander up. I've linked it here:

Dander raising article

In summary, it's an article about a group of parents in a school in Volusia County School District, who want a child removed from a first grade classroom and homeschooled instead.

Why? Because she has a peanut allergy, and her allergy requires her classmates to take certain precautions with her health. The parents feel these precautions are too much for their first graders to bear, and so, the child in question must be gotten rid of.

Before I begin my rant on the subject, let me make a couple caveats:

I read just the ONE article on the subject, and didn't do any fact checking. I don't know where the county or the school are, and I don't know the date of the Reuters article that is quoted in the blog. I have not been reading Momlogic long, and won't vouch for them.

In short, for all I, and presumably, YOU, know: One parent suggested to a reporter that the child be removed from school, and this is not the feeling of the rest of the class parents. Out of context, the suggestion sounds horrible. In context, it could have been an offhand remark, a bit of unrecognized sarcasm, or the opinion of one person without the authority to speak for the group.

I point all of this out in a Devils Advocate sort of way, in hopes that I might inspire people to THINK about what they read online. Hope springs eternal.

Now, on to the subject at hand:

According to the article, the children of the classroom are being asked to take the following steps to help ensure her safety:

1) Wash their hands after arriving at school and after lunch.

2) Rinse their mouths out after eating.


Oh, the horror.

What they are NOT asking the kids to do, or the parents to do:

Stop eating peanuts or peanut butter.
Stop bringing peanuts or peanut butter to school.
Alter their little lives in anyway other than washing their hands and rinsing their mouths with tapwater.

Now, we're going to disregard a few things here. Things like my supposition that at least 50% of the peanut butter being consumed by these kids is of the Skippy, Peter Pan variety, and not actually fit for human consumption. That's another rant for another time.

We're also going to disregard: If being made to wash their hands is the biggest issue in these childrens lives, I'm moving my whole family to this town.

In many schools and afterschool programs ( I taught in one.) peanuts are entirely verboten. Not allowed. At all. So many children are being diagnosed with allergies to peanuts now.. and the allergies are not of the 'runny nose and hives' type. They are of the 'dead in minutes' type. These parents have no idea, apparently, how good they've got it. The little girl with the allergy is going to have to eat her lunch in seclusion, but their kids can still have their PB & Js. They should be thanking the school board, really.

Let's look at what these parents are teaching their children with their 'remove the offending child' rhetoric:

"Your friend has an illness! Don't be friends with her!"
"Your classmate is different! Make her go away!"
"Your playmate could keel over dead at any moment! Be afraid, be afraid!"

Now, I haven't been to church in 20 years. But I do remember the Golden Rule.
'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'

(I know, I know, Old English! With all these peanut allergic sick kids, who has time for learning that?! Here's a translation: "Treat people the way you would want to be treated.")

One father of two is quoted:
"If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life," said Chris Burr, a father of two students at the school.

Ahem. *coughbullshitcough*

If your daughter had a problem, like say, Juvenile Diabetes.. YOU WOULD WISH FOR A FUCKING PEANUT ALLERGY. you moron. And you would absolutely expect the other children in the class to A) Not make fun of her. B) Learn from her disease, to not be afraid of needles, how the body works, nutrition, and a bunch of other things. and C) You would bring a lawsuit the size of which no one has SEEN if the school suggested she leave.

Trust me. I know whereof I speak.

I know it's unlikely that I'll be believed, but I do understand where these parents are coming from. It's SCARY to have a sick kid in your childs class. Especially 1st grade, where so many parents are learning the educational ropes for the first time. I imagine that these parents are wondering what will happen to their child if this little girl DOES fall ill, and have a reaction in the classroom. Will their children be traumatized by the epi-pen, which will be injected as her throat closes and she's having a seizure? What if it's THEIR kids fault? If Tommy forgets to wash his hands, and Sally dies as a result.. how's that gonna play out?

These folks are doing the normal thing, and looking at the situation from their, and their kids, perspective.

Let's look at it from the Allergic Girls perspective.

She's 6 years old. She didn't ask to be born with this allergy. She just wants to fit in. She wants to have friends, and go on field trips, and be normal. No one will let her, and now there's all this attention being put on her allergy, and Tommy isn't allowed to play tag with her at recess.

Is that how you would want your kid to be treated? yeah, I didn't either.

I'm sure that in a few weeks, if I go looking (because happy endings are NEVER publicized.) I'll find that the school board met, the parents got educated, a few were still grumpy, and life went on. The girls not going to get kicked out of school. Nor, realisticly, is she going to die from peanut poisoning. The other children will probably be healthier than the rest of the school, because they have to wash their hands so often. With luck, they will remember this someday in the future, and use it as a lesson in being nice to people who are different.

Hope springs eternal.


ChefSara said...

I agree 100%. I know peanuts aren't allowed at Sean's preschool or the child care center at the gym we go to. From my perspective, it's not a big deal.

Poker Chick said...

I loved this post. Thank you for writing it.