By 9:00 am my five-year-old was already on his second peanut butter sandwich of the day. He went very few days this summer without peanut butter of some kind. Sandwiches. Banana “hot dogs”. Tortilla boats filled with peanut butter and banana. You name it. He is the pickiest eater on the planet, and to get some protein into him, I’ve had to get creative.
Why am I telling you this? Because when he went back to school in a nut-free environment, he had to give up his beloved peanut butter for 6.5 hours a day, and the world continued to spin. He has been told he cannot have it for breakfast or lunch. If he wants some after school, he is welcome to it. And he understands because he wants to keep his friends safe.
Every year, I see at least one parent complaining about their lack of rights to send peanut butter to school because it is “all their child eats.” I get it. But here’s the thing: our children’s food preferences are secondary to the seriousness of food allergies. I don’t care if my child needs to figure out some other things to eat or be hungry if it means that one or more of his classmates lives are not put at risk. I mean, priorities here.
I understand that there are some children for whom giving up nuts is harder, for example, children who are diabetic or children who are not neurotypical. This post isn’t aimed at you. Yes, there still needs to be some way to accommodate your child’s needs without compromising the safety of others, but I recognize it isn’t cut and dry for you.
This post is for the parents I see every year saying, often literally, “Your child’s allergies are not my problem, my kid is a picky eater.” No. Just no. Your kid can survive 6.5 hours without peanut butter. A child with a life-threatening allergy might not survive coming into contact with nut residue.
So at the risk of sounding rash, suck it up and leave the peanut butter at home, and don’t make the parents of kids with allergies feel bad about it. Just do it.
This post originally appeared on Facebook. It has been reprinted with permission.