Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shame on you

I have never completely understood homeschooling. I get it in Junior High, but in elementary? There is a family in our ward with 4 kids and they homeschool -3 of them have peanut allergy's and NOW I get it. I just wanted to snatch my little Caleb up and run away as fast as I could at lunch today.

Last year I was told that there was one girl who would eat her lunch in the office on that 1 day a month when they serve PB & J. I was good with that. I called to verify the day before school started - do I just tell him to go to the office on that day? I was told children don't eat in the office. Why cant he just eat in the cafeteria because that's what all the other kids with allergies do (Insert super snotty full of their own importance secretary voice there) There are 18 kids at his school that have allergies to nuts. They have no place for them when they serve nuts to the majority of the kids.

I called about 18 different people in the school district (there is a longer post about why that I might write someday - but the lack of accommodation for children with medical needs was only one of the reasons). The nurse called me and said they were instituting a "Peanut Free" table. I told her, I'm not looking or a special place for him everyday - JUST the day they serve PB & J and other peanut products. Near 2/3 - 3/4 of the cafeteria would be eating Peanut butter on that day and that's a lot for a 6 year old to be careful of. I told them not to worry about accommodating us - Caleb will be going out to eat on that day!

They said they probably should start a Peanut free table anyway. Hmmm, ya think!? I was told that Caleb would be allowed to pick one friend to sit with him as long as their lunch was peanut free. The school nurse makes lots of good plans like that, but she is not on site and the school does not follow through. I knew exactly what would happen. Caleb would go in and they would tell him that was where he HAD to sit. Which is not the case. Caleb is careful. I know a lot of parents pack PB & J and he knows he cant eat what is in other kids lunch. All I had asked in my call was where the kids with nut allergies ate when the school serves PB. Seems logical that they would have a safe place set aside for those kids to me.

When we got to his class this morning I introduced him and myself to his teachers and talked with them about his allergies and they said they knew there was a table that was only for kids with peanut allergies. I reminded them that IF Caleb wanted to sit there he was allowed to take 1 friend with a peanut free lunch. "Okay great" was their response. I said goodbye to my boy and went to meet the lunch lady. She assured me the only lunch day with nuts is the one PB & J sandwich and not to worry because they now had a table for the kids with nut allergies to sit at and no one else is allowed to sit there. I reminded her: He is allowed to bring one friend with a peanut free lunch. "Oh that's great" she responded. I'm starting to wonder if they think he is allergic to kids without allergies or nuts? Its unclear.

As I left this morning and saw the chaos and the inability of the staff at his school do anything simple like order and organization (ie:you cant drop your kid off at their classroom until you know their bus number and yet there is no list posted and the office has no idea what number the buses are - this happened last year too you can read about it here)
I knew I had to come for lunch!

I was in the back of the cafeteria and sure enough I saw his teacher point and tell him that was "his" table. I went over and sat down and he said Cicely was going to come sit with him. But she was put at a different table. A couple of boys with school lunches came and sat down and I let them sit there since their lunches were - peanut free -seems that it should not be a problem for them to sit at the peanut free table! Then I saw other kids with peanut free lunches turned away and told they had to sit somewhere else. Every single table in the cafeteria was overflowing with kids and then there was the Peanut free table where there were 3 kids and 1 mom. Had I not been there - Caleb would have been the only one at that table.

Imagine how that would feel to a 6 year old?

Looking around at a cafeteria full of overflowing, happy, talking, laughing kids and him sitting by himself at an empty table.

Seriously think about that - How would that make you feel? How would that make you feel to see your child in that situation?

That is when I almost picked him up and ran for the door, my heart was so sad. Really why cant this school follow simple directions from the nurse? Where is their compassion and caring for a child? Where was the friend he was told he could have? He is 6 years old! Who is watching out for him!?! Caleb was so excited to have a fruit roll up in his lunch he didn't notice. Sweet, sweet boy! Today it made him feel special because he had a special table.
How long will that last?

We had fun and he waved constantly to the stream of friends that passed by when they were done. Then I had to introduce him to Jewel the lunch lady and she asked what would happen if he did eat a nut. I told her he would throw up and that his blood pressure drops so quickly that he cant stay awake. In my head I saw it. Caleb getting up from the table and going into the bathroom where he would puke and then fall asleep on the bathroom floor.

No one to pick him up and hold him.
No one to make him chew a benadryl to stop the reaction.
How long would he be there?
Would they even know what to do when they found him?
Would the reaction get worse the longer he laid there?

Jewel told me that she was glad there was a peanut free table. She said last year there was a girl who would plug her nose and eat her lunch fast because even inhaling peanut smells in the air could make her sick. Did no one think that this girl deserved a little more dignity and safety?

I have heard so many people (sadly including people in my own family) say that "parents like me" cant expect everyone to bend over backwards for just one kid. Really, is that what you think? That I'm ranting, raving, and complaining because I want everyone to accommodate just my child out of convenience? What about advocating to save his life?

What about 18 childrens lives?

When are there enough to get rid of 1 PB & J sandwich a month? Its one sandwich! I'm not asking that kids from home be banned from PB, but does the school have to feed the majority of kids one PB & J sandwich a month?

After lunch I went to the office where I dropped off benadryl and got the same "okay, great, sure" responses I had been getting to everything I said all day. Yet the next minute they have no idea what the program is. How can I trust that they will know when to give benadryl and when to give the epi-pen. "If Caleb goes missing please have someone check all the bathroom stalls." Did that just come out of my mouth? Am I prepared to take chances like that. We don't know what would happen if he doesn't get Benadryl because someone has always been right there when he has had every reaction. Is his life at risk? According to the allergist - yes.

I found his teacher and explained for the 3rd time that he is allowed a friend at the table and that he does not have to sit there on days when the majority of kids have peanut free lunches. "Oh, okay great." The same response tumbled out so easily. I looked her in the eye and said "please be sure he has a friend to sit with, I don't want him sitting by himself." I spun on my heels as my voice broke and the tears started pouring from my eyes. I made it through the front doors before the first sob wracked my body. I didn't stop for 10 minutes.

I so get why people home school.
It looks so easy all of a sudden.

For all you out there that think that "parents like me" cant expect everyone to bend over backwards for just my kid. Remember the image of a small child sitting alone by himself in a packed cafeteria and realize what you are asking him to give up so your child can eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Remember the possibility I'm living with: my precious son might be lying in his vomit on the cold floor of a school bathroom all alone while his body attacks itself.

Is a PB & J sandwich worth that to you?
Which of us is the selfish and self centered parent?
Shame on Coral Canyon Elementary.
Shame on you.


Lawther family said...

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to home school, but I agree that a peanut free school is the safest way. Kainoa's school is peanut free and there are so many kids here with allergies that it is good. Even if a kid comes with home lunch that is peanut, a red flag is put on that table and is completely sanitized when they are done eating their peanut lunch. If only people were more aware! I hope you and the other 17 parents can change the rules of the school for the better. Good luck.

Lawther family said...

I say that I wouldn't home school because I myself was home schooled and it was an awful experience, not that it has to be...

Grandma Caroline said...

Honey, I don't know what to say, I fought with the schools back in my day, and I just used prayer and silent time to listen to the Holy Ghost to show me the way to go. Try that, it really can and does work.

Abbie said...

Oh Lisa, my heart is so sad to hear of what happened today. REALLY??? Do they not understand what can happen to a child who has allergies? It sounds as if you kept it together well, I'm not sure I would have been quite so nice. It's sad. Your title is so perfect..."shame on you". I hope they are able to get it together and follow through. Otherwise, I think if I were you, I would continue to stand back and just "watch" at lunch time for a few days. Good luck.

Mae said...

I remember having a little girl in my class at Kindercare that was allergic to soy and milk. The one day that week that I was gone they fed her mac and cheese. The next day, she threw up all over me and I asked them, "What did you feed her for lunch yesterday?" (It would build up in her system and manifest itself the next day) They told me and I said, "Hello! Milk! Cheese!" They claimed it was powdered so it wasn't milk, right?

Do you have a PTA that you can start an allergen free group with? We can't ban everything that everyone is allergic to, but we sure can make stations that account for everyone's allergies. It's as simple as assigning a kid to a desk at school.

Take heart, mothers have been fighting against deaf and closed minded school organizations since they began, probably. I know mine did!

Raelyn said...

I wanted to cry right then with you! That makes me angry! My kids don't have allergies so I can only empathize...but I do! You need to stay on it! Fight for him! There is NO reason there should be a PBJ day! For the love of God...we are more aware these days. Our school district has NO peanuts served. Ever. Kids can still bring it from home...but we now are asked NOT to bring nut snacks for in-class snack time.
How hard is that?
You need to go to the school board. Skip the school...they DO NOT know what they are doing anyway. If it isn't passed with the school board nothing big will change ever. PTA/PTO is a good choice they have a voice in the school board...Maybe BOTH!
As mommies, our most important job IN THE WORLD is to fight for our kids that don't know how to fight for themselves yet!
You fight my friend!

For the record...Tyler would eat with him everyday! :)


Megan said...

Let me know what I can do to help. If we need to start a petition or call the school to get something done, I will be willing to do that. I know so many of the people we know that kids go to Coral Canyon will do the same thing. You have the right to protect your kid. It's not like Caleb just doesn't like peanuts, he could have serious consequences for eating them.

SoCal Rogers said...

Lisa- Caleb has rights, and I would take this to the school board. People who say, "Why does everyone have to bend over backward for one child?" Why do we install handicap ramps or bathroom stalls? Why do we post Braille signs for the blind? Why do schools hire speech therapist for child with speech disorders? Why do schools conduct vision and hearing tests? As a society we have to be as accommodating as possible, however it should be done WITHOUT singling people out. Caleb has a life threatening allergy. I would do some research on "Children with Disabilities in Education" Act as ammunition when you talk to the school board. PB and J sandwiches should not be served on a mass level. I would remind the school that it is a HUGE liability and that if ANYTHING should happen to Caleb that you would sue them in a very public way. When children go to school they need to be protected.

AWWWW.... this gets me so mad!