Friday, March 18, 2011

Ahhh (Pea) Nuts!!

This content brought to you by Folger's coffee. Ok, so it is really Jewel brand coffee, but it is in a Folger's container.

I have been following this news story about a child in a Florida community with a peanut allergy. On one side, parents are complaining about all of the time that is being taken away from their child's education. Somewhere in the ball park of 30 minutes a day is being spent washing hands (when has THAT ever been a bad thing? Am I right?) and rinsing out mouths, and using Clorox wipes to clean the desks and doorknobs and such. Good riddance to cold and flu germs if you ask me. Some parents, however, are outraged by all of this. Not only the time spent, but also the limitations that are being placed on their children as far as food they can bring for lunch. Apparently one child at the school has such a dangerous allergy to peanuts that even the smell can end in anaphylactic shock. 

The parents that are outraged to the point of picketing outside of the school are saying that if an allergy is that bad, perhaps that child should be homeschooled. Of course the other side of that is the parents of this child who has the debilitating allergy. How much else in life should their child have to sacrifice? Birthday parties cannot be permitted. They cannot have playdates at another child's home. They cannot eat any foods that are sold commercially. Every day is probably consumed with near misses and epi shots. Not fun at all. So should their child also be kept home from school and be denied any social norms along with all of these sacrifices?

It is a tough situation. Every parent just wants the best for their child. It is easy to vilify either side and label them selfish and inconsiderate, but truly they are only thinking about their child. I guess my question would be to the parents that are objecting and picketing. Sure, they are looking at the time spent that they could be spending learning in the traditional sense. What is so wrong about what they ARE learning though? Lets take a look at the valuable lessons that are being taught in all of this.

1. Good hand washing. 'Nuff said.

2. Being consciouses of others needs. In order to learn to be a giving, caring person, a child needs to become aware of others, and the fact that they have needs too. An important rite of passage, and one that is perhaps skipped over resulting in an over abundance of selfish adults. Am I right? (Ok, I won't do that anymore. How does "virtual high five" rub you?)

3. Putting others needs before their own. Not enough of this being taught, for sure. Once you are aware that others have needs, you also need to be taught that it is good to put other's needs before your own. Especially if their need is not to die, and all you have to do is not have pb&j for lunch to make that need met.

4. Promoting healthy behaviors. Let's face it- almost everything that contains peanuts or has been made in a factory where peanuts or peanut oil has been used is a processed food. Cookies, potato chips...pretty much anything in a box or out of a bag. So now you send your child to school with fruits and veggies to follow the guidelines and you have started incorporating healthy eating habits for your child.

I am not trying to judge all of the parents with complaints. I am sure there are some legitimate complaints in there and, as I said, everyone is looking out for their own child. It just rubs me the wrong way when "best interest" means "not inconveniencing my child in the least". I think that is a new style of parenting. It is certainly NOT what our parents thought "good parenting" meant,and I for one am glad for that. I personally think that when we tell our child in action and words that they are the most important person in the world, they grow up believing it.

Gasp! What can be wrong with that??

Well for starters, a group of 8 year olds that believe they should come first turn into a group of 16 years that believe they should come first. Ever at a 4 way stop sign with another vehicle that arrived at the same time? Ever have that other vehicle be driven by a teenager that is not even glancing at you to do the "You go ahead" politeness dance as they just charge on ahead? That is because no one ever told them that they are not entitled to go first in all things. That may sound like a petty example to some, but I live next to a school, and I can assure you I see it all the time. It is a mindset that directs decisions in ALL of life.

Is it a jump to say that being aware of peanut allergies will make a good teenage driver? Probably. Maybe my point is overgeneralized and perhaps a bit weak, but maybe not. Maybe this whole ordeal at the school is a perfect opportunity for a teachable moment. And isn't that truly what parenting is all about?

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