I’m so sorry your son had to experience that:(. Both of my FA kids have been on the receiving end of similar comments and it breaks my heart as well but I’ve taught my kids how to handle the rude remarks and move on. Unfortunately it won’t be the first or last time we experience these situations. On a more positive Valentine note, I made your brownies today (heart shaped) for my sons 1st grade class and the kids RAVED about them….”best brownies ever” I heard by many. So, thank you from the bottom of this Mom’s heart for helping to make my son’s Valentines Day very special 🙂 . And I LOVE your new cookbook!! The chocolate waffles are a new favorite!!
February 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm
Amy Recob says:
Kelly – We too have experienced a lot of this recently in my daughter’s 4th grade class. (Must be the age group?!?!) It’s a hard lesson for kids to learn so early that some people are just cruel and insensitive. Thankfully, so many others are not! I’m so sorry to hear of your heartbreak… I know the feeling of just wanting to “give up”. I’m here to remind you not to!! You are a strong voice for so many parents and your letter to the school is perfectly written. Thank you for sharing and keep fighting the good fight. You are making a HUGE difference, even though at times it may not feel like it. 🙂
February 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm
Kelly, I completely understand. My daughter is also in 4th grade. We are in the process of revising a 504 Plan – we’re in the 3rd draft, if you can believe it, because the principal is having that hard of a time giving up exclusion of FA children. Knowing that she was being excluded on Friday for a Chinese New Year celebration, we ordered pricey a cake from the local allergy safe bakery as her “safe treat” to share with a friend while the others ate greasy Chinese take-out noodles. The very next school day, the teacher was on the phone with us telling us about the next celebration, this time for good behavior. Scared by the 504 process a little, she wanted to buy a treat for the entire class that our daughter could eat. She added, “Or I could get pencils or erasers.” I said, “You are ABSOLUTELY right! You COULD get pencils or erasers! That’s a GREAT idea! Yes, do that.” Ugh.
February 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm
Jennifer Jazayeri says:
Heartbreaking… I am absolutely dreading putting my son in school b/c of this very reason… he is only 2 1/2 now, but unfortunately, I don’t see much changing in the next 2-3 years. I intentionally sent my kindergarten aged daughter to school with tattoos attached to her valentines, instead of candy, but many of the cards she received had candy from her classmates. The general public does not seem to empathize with FA children, and just do not “get it.” On a positive note, I made your chocolate pudding cake today for our family to have for V-day dessert tonight…. It was SO delicious, and my son was a chocolately, happy mess after having it!
February 15, 2013 at 6:03 am
I’m so sorry to hear that John had to go through that. My son is also 10 and I know we have had our ups and downs this year with the food battle at school. But there is always those little battles won that make me smile. One such win happened yesterday at my son’s V-Day party. Two of the girls in his class went out of there way to make sure he had something safe. One bought the suckers that he keeps in the classroom and another gave him a lego guy instead of candy. He was so happy and I was so thankful. I don’t know these girls or their parents, so for them to make my son was safe and had a good time really means so much.
People are slowly understanding at our school but like you said food is so ingrained in our culture that people really don’t know how to have fun without it. Things are changing because of people like you that are out there spending the word. Thank you.
February 15, 2013 at 6:27 am
Kelly M says:
I’m so sorry. BTDT with my two kids. My daughter, in fifth grade, was made to stand outside the classroom in the hallway (there was a sub that day) when unsafe treats were served in the classroom. Then the sub forgot she was out there. How can adults working in child-related fields even have the tiniest feeling that excluding a child is okay?!?
February 15, 2013 at 7:02 am
Oh, my! How is this ok on any level? Being a sub is no excuse. It enrages me that your daughter was so obviously excluded and then forgotten about! Teachers (and school counterparts) need to put the children first, always! I’m so sorry your daughter had to experience that.
February 15, 2013 at 9:17 am
I’m appalled at that sub’s “judgment call”!!! To esteem the serving of such treats over a child’s feelings and inclusion is really poor judgment. I’m so sorry that happened! I really hope you address that incident with the proper staff. And “she was a sub” is not an excuse.
February 15, 2013 at 6:28 am
Your post and that email brought tears to my eyes. You are exactly right. And by sharing your experiences and reactions, you give us all hope and strength.
February 15, 2013 at 6:49 am
Monique Moya says:
So sorry Kelly. I understand. This is why we have made the decision to homeschool from here on out. My son has been in a prek program at a military facility (they have amazing protocols in place for allergies!) and yet – yesterday parents were allowed to bring in candy for valentines, and I found 4 pieces in his valentines bag that would have killed him. 4!! Thank goodness I have ingrained in him well enough not to eat or touch anything unless mommy has cleared it first, so the poor little guy waited all day for time to go home so I could look at his candy….I am so angry I can’t even see straight – and nobody cares. Oops sorry. Ugh.
February 15, 2013 at 6:55 am
Paola Rallo says:
Hello Kelly, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and first I want to say I admire you and I think what you are doing is BIG. From the other side of the planet (we live in Argentina) things are even more difficult since food allergies are barely known by people and food companies do not declare allergens in their labels. I have two daughters with dairy allergy, the older one is 4 1/2 and it has been very difficult since she stated kindergarten last year, dealing with the school but mostly with some irrational parents. I cannot even think about proposing food free celebratrions, they would think i’m crazy. But the do have a snack during the morning (in the classroom) and last year we agreed it would be dairy free, but they are rethinking this for these year, so now have a big fight to deal with.
I am very sorry about your son, it brought tears to my eyes. He is very lucky though, to have you as his mom. You are an example to me, you give me strength and inspiration.
Thanks and regards,
February 15, 2013 at 7:28 am
This is the first year my 4th grader’s school (funny how we have so many the same age!) has a food ban on celebrations. I hear mixed reactions about it – most parents are relieved, but the kids seem to gripe a bit. My daughter has had to hear the complaints more than me, since it is the kids that miss the treats more. Sigh. For my daughter’s skating team, I sent an email with a long list of safe treats (fruit, starbursts, skittles, airheads, smarties, jolly ranchers, etc), and the parents were grateful and surprised at how much is still ok for FA children if the occasion calls for it.
February 15, 2013 at 7:39 am
Our entire culture is so wrapped up in food, it is disgusting to me. My son is allergic to eggs and dairy, and our school has a policy that all party snacks need to be approved from a safe list. However, the kids had so much fun playing the games at the last class party I attended, that it was obvious that the snacks were not even necessary! He’s in 4th grade
February 15, 2013 at 7:42 am
I was frustrated with valentines day at school too. The class instructions were that no candy was to be given out with valentines, but parents could donate things to the goody bag that would be handed out. All candy in the goody bag would go through the nurse and non food items were preferred.
My son came home with candy taped to valentines. : (
February 15, 2013 at 7:54 am
Ugh. So awful! My son is only two and a half and we cannot go on play dates because they are ALL focused around food! Sunday school is already proving to be a nightmare…we are seriously considering homeschooling, at least until he is old enough to understand and self-advocate, simply because I can’t imagine going through the battles I’m sure to face at that point.
I’m so sorry your son was made to feel excluded. I hope the parents and children at his new school start to “get it” soon. Thanks for sharing!
February 15, 2013 at 8:09 am
Erika Dunning says:
So sorry your son had to endure being labeled the fun police – it hurts for us parents so I cannot imagine how much more deeply that hurt is felt by a child at such a tough social age (my oldest is 9). On the other side, the school for my other two kids has instituted an across the board “healthy celebrations” policy – and it has been great. Lots of grumbling from the “what’s wrong with a cupcake” crowd of parents, but my preschooler came home with a bag of valentines with NO candy – so I think that it is really sinking in now with parents.
February 15, 2013 at 8:10 am
I am so sad to hear all these stories of children being mistreated and bullied. Exclusion is a form of being bullied. I always revert back to the Golden Rule. I don’t understand why some people raise their children to not think about others’ feelings. Then they grown up to be adults that only think of themselves and how that affects themselves. How simple would it be if we all treated others with kindness, respect and LOVE?
My son is 4 and we have had a rough year preschool wise. He has food allergies along with having asthma attacks because of a dog allergy. His preschool brought in pets for ‘pet week’, which I had never heard of! I found out about pet week from a sign up sheet to bring in your pets. I had a discussion with the teacher and director and eventually came to an agreement with the director that the dogs would not be in the classroom, that I would be present for the visits and know ahead of time. After that the director brought her own dog in. Without telling me!! She called me AFTER school!!!!! And then proceeded to put a mask & glove on my child!!!!!!!!!!! I never would have let that happen – why didn’t she call me before the visit?! Because she didn’t want me to know about it till after it was done. AHHHHH!
And then for Valentine’s Day, my son dumped all his Valentine’s out and looks at them all. Then he says “Mommy, none of the candy is safe.” It broke my heart, because my son is Mr. Positive. He always finds the positive and for him to look at the pile and be so discouraged and heartbroken, I knew it was bad. I was heartbroken as well.
I came to realize that this is just the beginning… the world can be so cruel sometimes. But we do have a responsibility to educate those that do not understand. There needs to be training for all teachers, subs, directors, principals, etc in how to properly handle food allergies and how to ‘spin’ it so that the FA child is not made to feel excluded. There needs to be someone on the school staff to help train the staff and help the parents when their children start school. My son won’t start school this year, but feel so lost when it comes to him starting kindergarten.
Thank you Kelly, for your post. For it does help us out here to realize we are not alone and we can made a difference. Thank you for posting part of your letter for it gives me guidance on how to handle these type of situations!
February 15, 2013 at 8:31 am
Jennifer Jenkins says:
In Kinder, 1st and again this year (2nd grade – where does the time go?) my school has been slowly coming round to “urging” no candy attached to valentine’s. Back in Kinder, it was a 1 classroom effort, and compliance was about 50%. And, 50% of the candy given was problematic. In 1st Grade, we had about 50-60% compliance. This year – something great happened! Every Kinder, 1st and 2nd Grade Classroom with food allergies had the same letter go home with the same “strongly urge” no candy wording. I am so happy to see that the school is making a bigger footprint each year to keep students safe and included. Compliance went up in my daughter’s nut-free class to about 80%. She had lots of pencils and other fun items like bookmarks to enjoy. It’s a long slow road. Chin-up, John! That candy is terrible for us anyway!!
February 15, 2013 at 8:40 am
Kelly, your post could not have come at a better time. I was feeling upset yesterday as well when an employee at a deli shop offered my children hershey kisses (after my 3 year old son bumped his head….to sooth him). Meanwhile my 5 year daughter old has the exact same allergies as your son. I quickly refused the candy before they laid their eyes on them too much. Normally I would just politely say, ‘no thanks,’ but this time I actually took the time to explain further to the employee.
I told her that she should really never offer food to a child, at least not without checking with a parent first; particularly because of allergies. Like you, I too get tired of these incidents as well.
Please know that your blog is the only blog I even read. And your vegan baking book has saved me these past 5 1/2 years as I’m pretty sure I’ve made everything in it. I just received your new cook book and I cannot wait to try it out. (And your family is beautiful.)
All I can say to you is thank you, especially as we prepare to start kindergarten this fall. I feel much more confident about dealing with the school and my daughter’s future with allergies.
Know that you are making a change……we are all…..even if we educate one person at a time.