I have often hoped that I would never have a story to share, but alas, my time has come.
My kids participated in a community outdoor children’s play this summer. The organizers are friends of ours and this was the second year they have taken on, and we’ve participated in, this wonderful event. Getting 35 kids between the ages of 5-12 to learn lines , cues and directions is a momentous task.
This year, it was decided to form committees for certain things, rather than just have parents step in as needed. I signed up to be on the “snack committee” as well as help out with stage managing.
The “official” duties of snack committee were to bring snacks the last two weeks of practice when the entire cast would be present. However, since I was there almost ever night anyway, I generally brought some type of snack for the kids when they had a break. Personally, I hate the idea of snacks because they usually involve junk food. So I made sure I was bringing fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden, or something homemade, like zucchini muffins. But always something healthy, low in sugar and fat.
One of the snack committee members took it upon herself to become the “committee chair”. The second week of practice I received an email from her expressing displeasure over my snack choices. Her child has a gluten allergy and she was very angry that I was not providing something her daughter could eat. She went so far as to outline exactly what I could bring and if I was to deviate from this list, I should let her know so that she may provide something for her daughter.
Not every child was present each night for practice, and not all choose to eat snacks. So I was really surprised that her daughter would feel excluded to the extent that her mother would have to send such an angry email. I responded with my polite spine and stated that the “official” snack committee had not started and I was doing this simply because I had time. I said I would not make something special for her daughter, but that I would make sure there was something available for her. I did go out and buy some gluten free cookies for her, but I was simply not going to try and bake something gluten free as I know my kitchen is not gluten free.
As the weeks went on, I received email after email from this woman about how inconsiderate I was being. Now, I might have taken this better if her daughter was young, but she’s 12. Her mother never attended a single practice to even personally see what was being served. Her daughter, on the other hand, was very nice about it. She would simply walk up and grab the fruit or veggies. If there was something I baked that she was interested in, she would ask if it contained gluten and I would let her know if it did or if I had something else for her.
The week before the official snack duties started, I received an email from her basically stating that I was killing her child. Because of work, I wasn’t able to get a snack together for one of the last rehearsals before the official snack dates. She sent an email saying she was glad her message finally was received (thinking that I didn’t bring a snack because of her). She sent a follow up email to the entire committee listing out what they should bring and when, and letting us know she would be there to supervise. Her list involved a lot of summer sausage type meat, cheese and chocolate- none of which does well in the summer heat.
I did continue to bring the fresh fruit and vegetables though I kept them close to my folding chair (where I had been placing snacks the entire time) rather than putting them on the official snack table. My inner witch was devilishly pleased by the fact that the kids came to my area for snack, instead of choosing the other option.
Is it wrong to think that if your child has special dietary needs, that you should provide it, rather than dictating what someone else is doing? 0824-12
I’m a big advocate for personal responsibility and one’s health (or that if your minor-aged child) is specifically within one’s own sphere of responsibility. It’s a form of entitlement to expect others to know your health limitations and cater to them in an educated manner. If you have a gluten/nut/shellfish or any other food allergy, it is your job to manage your own food intake.
By offering fruit, veggies and healthy food choices, you were being a good snack mom. What the 12 year old eats in the presence of such treats is her own responsibility as well as her parents’ to make sure she makes good choices.
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Sorry, but your allergy, your problem. Carry an epi-pen, homeschool your little snowflake if you can’t train them to stay away from the offending food, whatever, but deal with YOUR problem, YOURSELF, without making it my problem. My daughter’s school has 700 students, one of whom has a tree nut allergy. Can you tell me with a straight face that 699 students plus 75 or so staff members should have to police their lunches because one kid will get sick if she touches a nut from someone else’s lunch? Sorry, but times are tough, groceries are expensive, and peanut/almond butter and granola bars are low cost items that pretty much every kid will eat happily, so guess what’s in my daughter’s lunch?
Besides which, I’m calling BS on all these allergies all of a sudden. Until my daughter started this school I had never, in a fairly eventful life, living in several different regions of this country and abroad, never met a single person with a nut allergy–or really, any food allergy at all. It’s also interesting to me how many people in first world countries think they have a food allery, while you never really hear about food allergies in subsistence areas.
Cat Whisperer- on what planet does a classroom aide earn $80,000 a year? I live in NJ, where salaries tend to be higher than in other parts of the country due to higher cost of living, and I work in special education; all the classroom aides I know earn maybe $20,000 a year.
Erica- not everyone can afford to live on one salary so they can homeschool their children.
My son, who has dietary issues due to Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as an egg allergy (He only has problems if he actually eats an egg now. Before, he couldn’t even eat a baked good with egg in it.) attends the local elementary school, and he has a child in his class who has severe multiple food allergies. The kids can’t bring in any food for birthday celebrations; instead, they bring in little toys/goodie bags. Is this more of a pain for me? Yup. More expensive? Yup. Is this child’s life worth it? Yup.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to teach kids at a young age to be considerate of other people’s needs.
I should start by explaining that I feel there should be sympathy for people with allergies. My older brother is allergic to nuts, and it’s severe enough that he’s been hospitalized on at least two occasions because other people were being a bit careless.
Halyn, my older brother has almost died twice. This is a real thing, even if you haven’t met anyone like this before. It’s fine to buy your own food, but, it’s also important to be aware of this. Maybe even teach your kids to be careful about it, mainly asking if people have allergies before offering them food. (That was one of the things that nearly killed my brother: the offending item was a piece of a chocolate bar. I should hope that no harm was meant; to me, it just sounds like people were just being a bit careless.)
That being said… I think the mother was pretty out of line. Her daughter had gluten-free options available. If the mother didn’t like it, then I think she should have quietly sent her daughter with her own snack. Letting the committee know about her allergy was a good thing. Working with them politely and calmly to find a solution, even involving the daughter because she seemed fine, would have been excellent. But demanding that they only provide certain foods and acting so entitled? That’s crossing a line, in my book.