Peanut-free table for one, please
Big Guy's Mommy Day Care shuttle arrived at his school before he had finished lunch, so I sat down with him and waited for him to finish. It was me and one tiny 5-year-old at a vast expanse of grade-school cafeteria table, with only two laminated "peanut free zone" signs breaking up the white tile.
For some reason, a few older kids -- they looked to be fourth- or fifth-graders -- decided to think that was hilarious.
"Peanut free zone? You mean you don't have to pay?"
Perhaps the lack of a hyphen between "peanut" and "free" confused him. His loud wisecrack drew the attention of several buddies, who decided to join him in a round of pointing and uproarious laughter. Big Guy, thank heaven, was sitting with his back toward them and didn't notice.
I simply said, "Guys, he's allergic." They laughed some more and walked away.
I wanted to kill them.
I'm sure the solitary table is one of those things that bothers me far more than it does Big Guy. I hate seeing him sit alone every day, in part because he's never had to do it before. At his preschool, the teachers always managed to find a peanut-free, egg-free friend to sit with him. I can understand why the staff at his elementary school doesn't have time to do that with hundreds of kids to feed, but I fear he'll start feeling lonely once the novelty of kindergarten wears off.
I'm sure the sight of one kid sitting alone at a huge table surprised the older kids. For some reason, the position of his table has changed since he went back on track this week, and he is more noticeable now.
And I'm going to assume the older kids didn't mean to be cruel, but were merely commenting in an immature and rude way on a very obvious change in the cafeteria. I don't even blame them for being ignorant -- not enough people are aware that food allergies are real and dangerous things.
But I had to keep reminding myself that education, not ripping out their eyeballs, is the answer.
You see, kids, that's my baby sitting there all by himself day after day because touching the wrong kid who had the wrong lunch could make him very sick.
So lay off.
And if you don't, I'll talk to the principal about what we can do to raise allergy awareness.
Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.
- Kids and Allergies: Peanut butter and the field trip
- Why I won’t ask our school to pay for pricey cookies
- Nothing says love – or clueless – like a peanut butter cup
- Kids and Allergies: Peanut dog would solve three problems for me, if he didn’t cost so dang much
- Kids and Allergies: Girding for the fight at school that didn’t happen