Here we go again, Halloween Party

I’m frustrated today. This is the first party that either the teacher or I haven’t planned. I sent an email to the lady planning it two weeks ago reminding her that the party needed to be TREE NUT free, along with a list of over 200 acceptable snacks. She responded to me letting me know that she was, “well aware of Dorothy’s allergies.” Well, geez, lady. I’m glad you are AWARE of her allergies, but this didn’t answer my question, nor did it give me a warm and fuzzy vibe. Dorothy’s classroom is supposed to be tree nut free. She is supposed to feel safe in her classroom, this is why we have a 504 plan.

I get this email today:

Tara:

I am getting ready to get stuff for the Treat Bags and need some idea’s to make one for Dorothy. Could you please give me some ideas. Also, we will be having donuts from IGA. I know she can not eat these but when we had the Grandparents Breakfast I had gotten her the Hostess Muffins (Minis) is that still OK and which kind does she like best?

Thanks!

My response:

Is there a possiblity that her bag and snacks could not be different? The classroom is supposed to be the one *safe* place for her in the building that doesn’t contain any nuts, her 504 plan even limits what kind of lotion her teacher can use. Paul’s Doughnuts, down off of Elm near New Town, is tree nut free and is a safe doughnut for her to eat, in fact, I will volunteer right now to provide all of the doughnuts šŸ™‚ As for the treat bags, safe snacks are mini hershey bars, nerds, sprees, skittles, whoppers, fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, Hostess snacks (Ding Dongs, HoHo’s, Twinkies, unfortunately now all the mini muffins are no longer tree nut free), twizzlers, and smarties. For the bags for everyone, I have jelly bracelets, spiders and pencils…lmk if you want me to just send those in the day of or what. Did you want me to plan a game or two?

Thanks!

…and I’m not surprised, here is the response:

Game is taken care of. The kids were getting candy and I just wanted to make sure that I had Dorothy covered. Mrs. Gxxxx has sent in treat bags and pencils, if you would like to send in the bracelets that would be great. If you want to take care of the donuts that is fine also. I was not going to use the party money, just saving it for the Christmas party or Valentines Day party so if you need to be paid back let me know.

Okay, so apparently the candy is unsafe for Dorothy. Apparently the PLANNER lady failed to tell people about the need for the food to be tree nut free, and really doesn’t give a shit if she takes tree nuts into the classroom, but she wants Dorothy to be, “taken care of.” Well, taken care of means INCLUDING her in the damn party, INCLUDING her in the snack. It does not mean giving her something special. There is absolutely no reason that this should be an issue – none.

I just sent an email to the teacher asking how she plans to handle this, and an email to the planner lady asking if she will be asking for specific foods to be sent in from the list I provided. I know Dorothy will encounter nuts (the human variety – like this woman, and the kind from trees) but she is in 2nd grade, at this point I don’t think she is prepared emotionally for being singled out during a party. She already wants to stay home due to a certain amount of anxiety about nut-encounters, singling her out during a party will only succeed in exacerbating her anxiety.

Oh…and why didn’t I volunteer to plan this party? Well, I despise most of the women on the PTO, so I don’t go to the meetings, and the lady planning this party was the president last year, so she just automatically signed herself up.

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Another Food Oriented event

Sighs….Muffins with Mom was a disaster. Now it’s time for Doughnuts with Dad. I have tried to callĀ  the coordinator multiple times but she’s yet to respond. I can only assume that the doughnuts will be unsafe for Dorothy and that her teacher will need to insist on handwashing upon entry to the classroom tomorrow morning. John is going to take Dustin and Dorothy out to breakfast instead of playing the crap-shoot at the school. I wish that every blessed event at the school didn’t revolve around food. I just don’t understand why when childhood obesity is all over the magazines and news a school would have every single function based not just on food, but on fattening food.

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Last night we went out to dinner as a family. I put Dorothy in charge of carrying her own Epi-Pen Jr.’s. I think that I will be doing this more and more often as she is getting older. She seems to be ready for the next step in helping to manage her own tree nut allergies. This weekend I will also be training Dustin to recognize an anaphylactic reaction and how to use the Epi-Pens. I’m pretty sure there is something called a PAL program and I want Dustin to be Dorothy’s PAL.

Lessons learned…

When Dorothy started the day lolly-gagging along, I should have just decided to forego the Muffin’s with Mom, sponsored by PTO at the school. But no, I pressed on and forced the issue, prodding her to hurry up and get moving so we could get there right when it started. We raced out the door and made it to the school cafeteria before the rush.

We step up to the area where the server will fill our plates and filling the table are the giant muffins from Sam’s Club, notoriously known for not only having treeĀ nuts in the proper muffins, but for extreme cross contamination. I’ve bitten into the chocolate and blueberry muffins in the past and been greated with stray walnuts. Muffins are clearly not an option for Dorothy, and because we are eating with Dorothy, Dustin and I pass on these muffins as well. They show us some “sugar free” muffins from IGA and tell us that these wonderful muffins are either chocolate or blueberry. Perfect, we can eat bakery goods from our localĀ IGA without issue, Dustin and I take blueberry, Dorothy takes the chocolate. Add some fruit and off we go.

I bite into my muffin and OH MY GOD. It is a banana-nut muffin, chock full of walnuts. Crap. I remove Dorothy’s chocolate muffin from her plate cause god only knows what is in it. Dustin’s blueberry muffin is also a banana-nut muffin. Great. I give him Dorothy’s chocolate muffin and give Dorothy a banana. Dorothy was already a dramatic mess this morning, so the tears just start flowing. Now she’s afraid that someone will touch her and that she will be hurt. I assure her that I’ll call her teacher and that Mrs. Ivie will have everyone wash their hands before touching anything in the classroom.

We come home and I feed Dorothy breakfast before John takes the kids back to school. I called the teacher, she assured me that every child in the room would wash hands and that all hard surfaces would be wiped with Clorox wipes.

I recognize that we cannot keep Dorothy in a bubble and that she will be exposed to tree nuts. However, she should be able to attend school events without having to worry. She has, what I thought was,Ā a comprehensive 504 plan, but this is the second PTO sponsored event at the school where the presence of tree nuts on a grand scale was an issue, the first being the Fall Festival when the PTO specifically requested items with tree nuts to be brought in by Dorothy’s 1st grade for mass distribution at the event. When we revise her 504 plan for next year I will see what can be added to the planĀ so that she can safely participate in events such as Muffins with Mom and the Fall Festival.

Lessons learned:

1. Don’t ever assume that even though the same people are running the event as last year, and that you spoke to them at length last year about the nuts, that they will a)remember or b)care.

2. Don’t ever assume that an unpackaged food is what someone says it is because they probably don’t care enough to really know.

3. Don’t ever forget that you are your child’s best advocate and that they count on you to keep them safe.

4. It’s a big, bad world out there, full of nuts both literally and figuratively, both are equally dangerous.