4.15.2011

TRYING

I was planning on giving our Landon-Boy some press, and I'm still going to. There's a lot going on in his almost nine year old life. I want to post all about it. Last night he and I went out to dinner after baseball practice - Just The Two of Us... and I LOVED it. I really, really enjoyed him. Lately, it seems that every time he wants to "talk" one of his little siblings is interrupting with some kind of urgent need. I was feeling a bit distant from him and our little dinner together was the perfect way to reconnect, no distractions, just listening to all the funny things that go on in his head.
But today is just not the day to tell you all about him because I have some other thoughts that are crowding out my happy thoughts. I gotta get them out so I can focus.

So for NOW, I am TRYING *to be more positive in my thoughts and words *to take nothing for granted *to live in the moment and plan for the future *to help the elementary school come up with an allergy action plan that is suitable for Austin *to figure out a way to help Austin be a "normal" kid

I have had three meetings with the principle, over the past couple of months, regarding Austin's food allergies - focusing on the Peanut Allergy, because that is the one that is LIFE THREATENING. Here's what I'm asking for:

-Staff Training: recognizing signs of anaphalaxis and knowing what to do and how to use the epi-pen {as of my last meeting, only ONE person in the school knew how to use the epi-pen. That is unacceptable to me - what if she isn't there? what if they can't find her? what if... I think ALL staff should be trained to use the epi-pen, the sooner he gets the shot the less likely he will die or suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen}

-Ban of Peanut Products in the Classroom: this is a touchy subject. In Florida parents are picketting to remove a 1st grader from school. They are saying some MEAN things that rock me to my core. This website has a video from CNN that talks about this case. It also lists some of the things people are saying based on this case, two examples:

"Really? I shouldn't have access to a peanut product anywhere "in public" because of your kid's problem? Man, you make me want to scatter peanuts everyplace I go. Sounds like a gene pool that needs to be drained."

"You do everything you can, but at some point you've just got to let some kids die. Are we at that point with banning peanut butter? I don't know. But the survival of any species can't continue when the weakest are allowed to pass along their sickly genes."

Comments such as these, help me realize that I am the minority, and there are STRONG opinions out there. I can not understand how people can be so callous and just plain mean. But that's beside the point. I'm not going to win, trying to change those kinds of opinions. But there's gotta be some kind of compromise and balance. I get that people have the right to eat whatever we want. We also have the "right to bear arms". Yet, guns are banned in schools, as they should be. A peanut for Austin is just as dangerous as a loaded gun. I am asking the school to ban peanuts in the classrooms. Students can eat it in the cafeteria where it can be controlled. Which brings me to my next point in the action plan.

-Providing a CLEAN nut-free table in the cafeteria (if I had my way, I would ban nuts from the entire school, but apparently, there are children "that will ONLY eat peanut butter and we can't force them to eat something else." Furthermore, this is such a TEENY-TINY town that the principal is VERY concerned about backlash from parents...really concerned. And I too, want them for me not against me - or Austin)

-Asking kids to wash their hands as they enter the room after lunch: there is concern with this taking away from the students educational time. I can understand that, as well. However, hand washing will benefit all children for general health and wellness reasons. And with sinks in the classroom, it can be done quickly and efficiently.

-Decreasing the amount of nuts in school, in general: I've asked the school cafeteria to come up with a substitute for Uncrustables, which are served everyday. It's proving to be a lot more difficult than expected, because of financial reasons, and the need for the cooks to "make" the peanut-free sandwiches themselves instead of just opening a box of pre-made ones.

I feel like maybe I'm too close to this issue to assess if fully, because I'm sitting here trying to figure out what the big deal is? Why is it so hard to just reduce the amount of peanut butter from the school (by keeping what people bring from home in a controlled space and not serving it from the hot lunch line). And why is it such a big deal to assign a table in the cafeteria to be peanut free?

I've been in two other school districts that were "peanut free" and didn't think twice about it (even before I realized the severity of Austin's allergy). In fact, Ada County (Boise school districts - within an hours drive) have all adopted a peanut-free allergy protocol, according to our allergist. So, I'm left to wonder, can't we just copy that protocol and put it into affect next year?

As I write this, I am aware that it might sound as if the school isn't working with me. The principal, actually, has been quite sympathetic and has put many phone calls in to others in the "know". She is willing to do what needs to be done but she also has lots of pressure from, not only other parents, but even staff within the school that just can't fathom the thought of not being able to eat nuts at school. So that's where we're at. My options: keep working with the school, drive Austin to Boise everyday, Homeschooling, a private school with (according to people that attend) very supportive staff and less parents to deal with. What I want to do is just let him keep going to school, SAFELY. I'd like your opinion, am I being unreasonable?

6 comments:

runningfan said...

I admire you for being such a strong advocate! I am more than happy to comply with peanut-free rules at our school to keep other kids safe.

Our district emailed this notice to parents on April 14:

"NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which airs at 5:30 p.m. in Colorado Springs, is scheduled to broadcast a segment tonight, April 14, about how Academy District 20 supports students in our schools with food allergies. The segment was filmed last week at Air Academy High School and Mountain View Elementary School and features two students and their parents. The segment highlights how our district cooperates with families to keep students with severe food allergies safe at school."

I didn't watch it, but I wonder if you could look it up online. Maybe showing the principal what other schools are doing to protect children would help him be more understanding. Good luck!

Bradeigh said...

You are NOT being unreasonable. I am shocked that the school isn't already complying with your requests. Isaac's preschool is entirely peanut-free and just today at his kindergarten orientation I noticed that his future classroom is nut-free (which is good because if he has cashews or pistachios he will vomit and feel awful for the next few hours--GI type allergy, luckily not anaphylaxis). Those quotes you posted make me want to throw up! I have been following your blog for a while and you are doing a great job advocating for your boy. Keep up the good fight! Any good mom would do the same thing.

Steph said...

Ok, fisrt of all: "mean" is not even close to what these people are. I think it's safe to say that evil is the more correct term. How can they even live with themselves for saying, let alone thinking such evil things?! I am seriously so mad right now I just want to find them all and punch them in the gut. And then let them meet Austin and I guarantee they wouldn't be saying stuff like that anymore. I just want to scream right now! I can't even imagine how you must feel right now. I also can't believe that the school doesn't seem to understand the severity of this either. Seriously! Which leads me to my second of all. You are definitely not being unreasonable at ALL! This is your son's life we're talking about. Kendra I am so sorry you have to go through all of this right now. We will continue to keep you guys in our prayers every day. I wish there was more I could do besides that. Give your family all a big hug and tell Austin that he's the coolest kid ever. We love you guys so much! I'll call you soon!

Alissa Maxwell said...

Hey, you are NOT in the minority to be doing everything you can to keep your child safe. Those hateful people are the minority - I think most parents just don't understand how deadly this issue is for your son. Keep talking - keep explaining it to other parents. The more they know Austin and understand, the more people you will have advocating FOR you and WITH you.

Personally, reading one of your earlier posts really opened my eyes. If being nut free saves a child's life, isn't that a no-brainer? My son eats PB&J every day for lunch, but if our preschool needs to be nut free, we will find an alternative IN AN INSTANT. It shouldn't be this hard for you. And, seriously, Uncrustables in the school-provided lunch? Unacceptable in so many ways. Schools need to be providing healthy, well rounded meals. The kids that will only eat uncrustables now will pick something else if that's no longer an option.

Keep fighting!

Colleen said...

Those comments just make me sick to my stomach! I can't believe someone who is a parent would actually say something like that. Be tough, stay strong, you are amazing and doing what is best for Austin by fighting this. I can't imagine someone having a problem with some of these things the principal is worried about, I mean, washing hands? COME ON! You just need to move back to Colorado Springs where people care about other people's kids. And I think you should take Heidi's suggestion, I didn't get to watch it that night either, but it is such an important cause!

Andrea said...

I don't think you are being unreasonable. Honestly, if someone in Evan's class had a peanut allergy, and I was asked to stop using it at home because the allergy was that severe- I would in a heartbeat.

You are such a good advocate for him, and I am sad for you that you would even have to worry about backlash from other parents. How would they not want to help protect Austin? I just don't get it.

((hugs))