Party planning update…this is a doozy

Rather than paraphrase, I’ll just include the emails intact.

Room parent:

No the candy does not have tree nuts in it. I will not send a list home because I have everything I need now and the parents gave the party money, they don’t need to be nickeled and dimed to death. I will take care of it.

What about drinks is there something specific that Dorothy can not have?

My response:

Okay. I”m not trying to be a pain here, I promise. Our action plan provides that the snacks be coordinated with me, so that they are appropriate for Dorothy. The classroom is supposed to be tree nut free, and party time really presents additional issues. I have always planned the parties (and I”m definately glad someone else volunteered, though I must have missed the sign-up or I would have volunteered for at least one of them), so food was never an issue.

Parents ALWAYS send extra stuff in, even if they have been asked not to because they want to help, so I will work with Mrs. Wallut to find out how she wants to handle that if the snacks are not okay.

For drinks she is allergic to mango. There aren’t too many things that actually contain it, but some of the Tampico stuff does have it. Fruit punch, capri-suns, Koolaid, apple juice are perfect.

Thanks again.

Her reply…

You know what. I suggest next time you make sure to sign up for these parties. I know there where at least 2 forms that went out and a meeting was held last week. I am sorry that you have missed those but since you have I have signed up for the parties. I am again, not asking for anything and will not. If parents want to send something in that is there choice and it will be noted on my flyer. I know nothing of having to go through you for food issues, I know that I need to follow certain rules and I have. I have contact you, I have asked what Dorothy can and can’t have. Food as never been an issue, I have been asking you to make sure everything is covered. (Just like all of the breakfasts)

This is my party and I will work with Mrs. Wallut what I have planned. If there is something she does not like or something she wants changed I will do that. To many hands in the fire is too confusing for everyone. That is what a headroom parent is for.

Again, if you have problem with this I suggest you make sure you are headroom parent next year.

and finally my response

I shouldn’t have to volunteer to run a party to keep my daughter safe. I volunteered to assist with the party and a packet was sent home from Mrs. Schiffer. I don’t want to plan the party, I was discussing food with you as is outlined in our ADA 504 document, which is a legally binding document. The packet that was sent by the PTO said to talk to the teacher about allergies, which I assume you did. I don’t care how you plan the party, I volunteered to help. I had thought that all help would be welcomed.

Good luck, I hope that your party runs smoothly

At this point, the principal called my back. She assured me that I am not in the wrong here, that this room mom MUST COORDINATE SNACKS AND TREATS with me and that she would call the room mother. She also has spoken to the teacher to let her know to be more assertive, that it is her JOB to keep Dorothy safe and the classroom nut free.

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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.

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.

Nuts are not weapons

Sorry for the downer post

Nuts are not weapons, and we will not play war games using pretend nuts like hand grenades or M16s.

Yes, I actually had to say that last night to my boys because they were upsetting Dorothy. Dorothy suffers from anaphylactic allergies to all tree nuts, so everyone here knows that nuts are deadly. I know that Liam yelling from behind the recliner that he’s going to throw a nut at Dustin to *kill* him was not meant to upset his sister, or to tease her in any way, but it did upset her – a lot.

Dustin and Dorothy’s stepmom’s dad passed away this week, so perhaps that is why the nut grenade idea bothered her so much. I think that for most kids the finality of death isn’t something they think about often, but we have used the wordĀ “death” in talking about her allergies. I know some people just tell their kids that X food will make them sick, but that’s not the approach we have taken.

I don’t know, maybe I’m making the wrong choice by telling her how serious her allergies are. I just want her to understand.