13.8.09

I will punch your "sun butter" in the face.

A kid in my daughter’s 4th grade class is allergic to peanuts, so now my nine year old cannot take peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. I do not want to seem unfeeling or cold hearted towards the afflicted, but ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!? Grade school without peanut butter is like NASCAR without wheels. Or worse… beer! It’s just part of it.

1 out of 830,000 school-age children will die from peanut allergies this year. That is one more than is acceptable, for sure, but according to the New York State Department of Health, “at least one child dies every five days from choking on food.”

Hmmm. Milk shakes for everyone!

Oh, wait… I know a girl in kindergarten who is lactose intolerant. “Sorry, sweetheart… But would you care for a nice glass of refreshing water? We’ll dissolve an iron pill in it…”

While we’re at it…

I am allergic to pet dander. I think you should kill your puppy.

32 comments:

  1. Pet dander makes you sneeze.

    Lactose makes someone's stomach hurt.

    Peanuts can kill my son if he doesn't get an epinephrine shot immediately and then taken straight to the ER.

    Death rates are so low because peanut allergies are detected early since peanuts are such a ubiquitous part of childhood. We knew my son was allergic at age one when touched peanut butter and broke out in hives and had trouble breathing. So all the kids/parents carry epi pens so they don't die when some entitled asshole thinks it's too much trouble to pack his kid a sun butter sandwich. So get educated, ease up, or eat it (the sun butter, I mean, though soy butter is much better).

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  2. Gosh, that's rough. I mean mostly that something so delectable is a cold-hearted, coagulated, congealed killer. We'd had such a great relationship till now. Three ways with Oreos. Collaboration with apple (butter). I also like(d) to spoon peanut butter. Straight into my mouth.

    The problem with "safe soy" is that my nieces have polycystic overian syndrome. It makes their lives very unhealthy. The good creation seems to have gone renegade.

    All joking and passionate love of peanut butter aside, it's good to be aware of the issues. Perhaps my god/stomach can learn a little sensitivity.

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  3. I understand both your positions, Billy and Steve. My daughters cannot take allergens to school, either, but I've also watched my daughter break out in hives due to a food dye allergy.

    As far as alternatives go, almond butter is fab, though costly. They sell it for a decent price at costco and Trader Joe's. My girls love it.

    I think part of the reason so many of our children are alergic to this great American tradition is the overconsumption of peanut butter in the past, along with our weakened intestinal tracts due to the use of antibiotics and our "traditional" diets of refined flours and sugars. Our kids just don't have the ability to properly digest food. I've changed my daughters' diet and give them probiotics in hopes that this helps.

    Anyway, it's certainly not fun to feel such personal limitations, but it's even more frightening to think your kid could go into anaphylactic (sp?) shock.

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  4. Wow, what a cold-hearted post!

    I ran an after-school/summer program that had several kids with fatal food allergies. We told parents that if their child pulled out a peanut butter sandwich we would (and did) throw it away. Unkind perhaps, but better than someone dying.

    This raised much more ire from parents than it ever did from kids. In fact we were able to incorporate discussions about loving each other - it being a Christian program and all - and ultimately led to more empathetic kiddos.

    And yes, we fed the hungry children some non-lethal food after we nabbed their sandwiches.

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  5. GIVE ME PEANUT BUTTER AND/OR GIVE ME DEATH...

    That was the original title of this post. I thought that would ruffle too many feathers, though, so I changed it. Seriously, it would funny if I punched a sandwich. It would not be funny if my child's peanut dust caused your child to go to heaven. We, however, do not make peanut dust and jelly sandwiches at my house and the socialist pigs at South Shades Crest Elementary School already force my kids to wash their hands and faces before and after lunch at school... so...

    http://bit.ly/7b7Fe

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  6. This would have been a discouraging post to read anywhere, but it was especially discouraging to read it on the BWC blog.

    To broaden the topic a bit: For the past couple weeks I've been trying to figure out the best way to have a conversation about the current debate on health care and health care reform. I've seen the word "socialism" thrown around as though that should be the last word on everything, and I've seen people trot out the most extreme anecdotes they can find in an attempt to sucker punch the other side of the debate into submission.

    Health care is a complicated, intensely personal issue. It deserves honest, thoughtful discussion - not facile straw-man argumentation and name-calling. I like reading the BWC blog because I usually find the former; this morning I unfortunately found the latter.

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  7. It was a joke. It was evidently a really bad joke... But the link to "satire" in my comment should have keyed folks in to the fact that me throwing out the word "socialist" was sarcasm...

    Good grief.

    Shouldn't children have to wash their faces and hands before and after eating? Of course they should. Am I really up in arms about peanut butter? Well, kind of, but C'mon.

    For the record, I do not think you should kill your puppy.

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  8. David, how does one define when a word is used because it's the best description available for the topic, as opposed to being "thrown around"?

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  9. Great post, Billy. Satire seems to be a dying art in these days of social...(cough) progressive liberalism. Keep up the good work.

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  10. "I am allergic to pet dander. I think you should kill your puppy."

    HA!!

    Classic.

    It's pretty absurd that your kid can't enjoy PB&J cuz some other kid can't take it. Just tell that one kid not to share the sandwich. sheesh.

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  11. We live in a world with food allergies. Extreme ones. And kids often bear the brunt of the worst of them.

    But throwing out peanut butter at school seems feels like chucking a baby out with a lot of bathwater.

    There are kids who are going to be gluten-free. They may become violently ill if they ingest the tiniest morsel of wheat gluten. But for pete's sake, asking everyone to swap to gluten-free bread makes no sense. (Especially since it's 1.) wildly expensive 2.) the store-bought stuff is usually dense enough to kill someone with and 3.) tricky tricky stuff to bake yourself. Believe me, I spent six months trying).

    Peanut butter and standard wheat bread are also classroom classics because they are cheap. I don't know what kind of neighborhood this school is in, but most schools in this country have families who simply could not afford to start buying peanut-butter alternatives, and I'm pretty sure the government doesn't hand out sun-butter/soy-butter grocery vouchers.

    If you have a kid with a peanut allergy? You teach them not to eat peanut butter products. You have the teachers and aids hang out with them during meal times, and carry an epi-pen just in case. You make it work.

    There are children with allergies to light. We don't send them to school and expect teachers to teach in the dark.

    At some point, children with food allergies have to learn to take care of themselves. It's a part of growing up. If schools don't help children grow up, we've got a bigger problem on our hands.

    As for this post itself, seriously. Everyone take a breath! You think a post with the phrase "punch your 'sun butter'" and a line drawing is a solemn social commentary? I think not.

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  12. Hillary... You nailed it. Bravo.

    Hey... guess what they give kids in elementary school who cannot afford the meal plan (or have a zero-balance)?

    PB&J.

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  13. I think the difference to say, being allergic to gluten and being allergic to peanuts is that [most] people with gluten allergies have to actually ingest the food product to get sick, whereas [many] kids with peanut allergies have it so severe that if they even come into close contact with one they can die. I saw a story on the news of a kid who ate a PB&J at school and went over to his girlfriends house hours later, kissed her, and she died. That's intense.

    Yes, kids need to learn to take care of themselves and it sucks, but if you have allergies you need to be dilligent about what you're putting in your mouth, but if Timmy from 3B sitting next to you pulls out some Jiff and touches you by accident you die. That is not something a kid (or adult) can have control over, hence the no peanut rule.

    But maybe whoever said they should stay home had a point, I personally just feel like it's easier to say no peanuts so that more kids can have a traditional school experience, than ostracize those kids with allergies more and segregate them from society.

    oh! I have an idea, we should just make all the kids with allergies wear stars on their clothes, that way we know how to identify them and we'll know not to touch them with our superior non-allergic hands. Problem solved.

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  14. It should be noted that death by peanut does not in any way resemble Vizzini's death in The Princess Bride. They don't have a giggle and fall over. The swelling and closed airways are a reliable indicator.

    Hey, maybe if kids learned what was and wasn't good for them, the "Say No to Drugs" campaign might have actually worked.

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  15. I'm fairly surprised there was so little recognition of the satire here, but nonetheless the conversation about to PB or not PB is interesting.

    My father is allergic to bananas. All his life he ate bananas. Then one morning he ate one on his drive into work and arrived with a swollen face and closed airway. He now carries an epi (or should). You'd be surprised what meals or foods have bananas or banana oil in that are not advertised.

    One of my sisters has celiac disease (i.e. the no-gluten diet). She has her own cabinet in the kitchen, her own kitchen utensils, cutting boards, etc, and complete segregation of her food and supplies. She can't ever order from a supermarket deli counter unless it has a gluten-free dedicated slicer, and fights regularly with so-called "gluten free" food service providers that have no awareness that serving gluten-free food doesn't actually make it gluten free when you prepare and cook it in the same areas as foods with gluten. She has no choice but to be consciously aware of her surroundings when she is preparing to or currently eating.

    With a child in preschool, we've been asked to not send in PB-laced snacks for birthday treats, etc. That's no problem to us. It makes sense because those kinds of things are for everyone to share. If there was a gluten-free child in the classroom, the least we'd do it prepare/purchase a gluten-free similar item for them.

    But when it comes to sending in lunch with her when she goes to full day school, if she is anything like she is now, she will probably not want to eat lunch if we can't send her PB&J. We (insert generalized group here) can't force ingredient abstinence on families, especially public organizations that don't provide equal-cost alternatives. If schools can provide healthy lunches at the same cost as I can at the supermarket, then that's a good first step to controlling bagged lunches. But education and awareness is always a better solution than an absolute public restriction.

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  16. I recognize the satire, and I think most did. But like Emily said, many have heard that just being around someone with peanut butter breath is a problem, so telling kids in the same class not to bring pbj to school is a little more understandable.

    Having said that, I read that the guy who kissed his girlfriend and then she died did not actually, as first reported, have peanut butter, and the autopsy showed she died of something else entirely. That didn't come out till several days later, though.

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  17. There is a difference in celiac disease, which presents itself with digestive and other complications over time, and a peanut allergy (or other severe food allergy), which can cause an acute anaphylactic shock.
    And the peanut butter does not have to be ingested to cause this to happen.

    Please educate yourselves, get over it, and find an alternative. It's not that hard to do.

    So your kid can't take peanut butter to school. My kid gets fruit when she trick or treats. And any gathering (birthday parties, family functions, etc.) involving food are a nightmare. We all have our sacrifices to make.

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  18. But where does it stop? If my father were a student, would bananas be prohibited in schools? He can't even touch a banana.
    My wife would really have a hard time with that since PB & banana sandwiches are one of her most favorite.

    Don't minimize celiacs. It isn't simply an "over time" problem. People can vomit for days if they've eaten gluten-contaminated food.

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  19. I find this discussion very interesting. The issue of peanut butter in school is small compared to other freedoms that are being taken away from us everyday in this country. Maybe your daughter can change classes so that she can have her peanut butter?? too bad changing countries isn't such an easy option. why does a ban on peanut butter anger so many when the gov telling you what kind of car you can drive and what doctor you can see doesn't?

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  20. There you go, again, Anonymous. First with the joke about Halloween fruit and now this.

    You are hilarious!

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  21. One of the hardest things for parents of kids with peanut allergies is people treating it like it's just another allergy. That's totally cool if they're uninformed, but difficult for me to understand otherwise.

    "Just carry an epi pen"? Sorry if I don't relish stabbing my four year-old in the leg, applying pressure for ten-seconds, then rushing him to the nearest ER and hoping it's in network so I don't get financially screwed. And being the freedom-loving, red-blooded American that I am, I would much prefer there be no rules about such things. I'd much rather people just be flexible so my son doesn't have to get home-schooled or sit at a table by himself at lunch time. And teaching my son to stay away from peanuts doesn't keep another kid with peanut butter oil on his hands from playing with my sons.

    Yes, you can always find exceptions. Yes, some people have it worse. No, we can't fix everything. But this is a risk that can be drastically minimized with only an inconvenience. I really hate having to bug people about this whenever we got to a party or a picnic. I hate having to worry about it and read ingredients and telling my son not to touch the bag of fun-size Snickers. I spend half the conversation apologizing. I hate inconveniencing people, but the stakes are too high for me not too.

    On another note, Cervantes, Swift, Franklin, and Twain wrote satire. This is sarcasm. I'm one of the most sarcastic bipeds on the planet, so I'm fine with that. My writing drips with it. But don't dismiss intense responses to this as "not getting it." Debate me all you want, just don't think this went over my head. I got it, I disagreed, and I responded in kind. By no means do I think you shouldn't be "allowed" to post something like this. Just spare me the dismay when the sun butter punches back.

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  22. Two different anonymouses. Glad to know that Halloween fruit was funny, though. Wish it had been a joke! We also received a diet coke, a sprite, and a bag of chips in lieu of Reese's cups.
    To answer Tim, yes, Tim, if there were a child in my kid's class with a severe banana allergy, I would not send my kid to school with a banana. And that would be because it's an allergy that may cause him or her TO DIE. That is what I think you are not getting.
    With regards to celiac disease, I have family members with that as well. I am not minimizing that condition. It's just not the same condition as a severe allergy, mainly because the food has to be ingested to cause the problem. And violent vomiting, as horrible as it is, is not quite the same as your throat closing up in a matter of minutes, even seconds in severe cases.
    Again, it's not as simple as just jabbing an epipen into the child's leg when the child goes into shock on the playground b/c he's been holding hands with your daughter whose's got peanut oil on her hands from her sandwich at lunch.
    I know this post was intended to be light and funny, but you've touched on a nerve. It may get on your nerves to have to come up with a lunch alternative. Heck, when I had to rid my cabinets of peanut butter (one of my own personal favorites), it got on mine. However, it is ridiculous to make satire of something that truly can be life threatening, especially to a child.

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  23. I think the stat everyone is missing here is "1 out of 830,000".

    That's a very low number. Your chances of getting in a car wreck are bigger than that, so should driving kids to school be banned?

    It's easy to say, "Well, if it saves one life, then it's worth it", but really, is it?

    Maybe it's heartless of me, but I'd rather allow parents to pack what they like than restrictions put in place to stop every little scrap of harm that could come to their child.

    Factor in the economic factor Hillary mentioned (peanut butter being a cheap source of protein) and the fact that bad shit can happen to a kid everywhere, and I'll admit to being surprised at the reaction here.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. Despite the numbers, you're really surprised by someone's reaction when their child's life is on the line? And that number doesn't apply to hospitalizations.

    To be fair, I also kid around about issues that don't affect me directly. I don't expect someone whose kid doesn't have this problem to feel the same way. But I'm glad Judd Apatow does:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE65VbUBGbI

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  26. I guess I'm not impressed with the statistic of 1 in 830,000.

    If there is a vulnerable child in the classroom, shouldn't it be our pleasure as followers of Jesus to do what we can to keep the child safe?

    I'm also not impressed with the comparison to driving. We can't always protect children from drunk drivers or bad or careless drivers; in other words, we can't protect them from accidents.

    But there is a tangible way to dramatically reduce the risk associated with peanut allergies. For eight hours a day, peanut butter at school is something that the parents of an allergic child can worry about just a little less.

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  27. @John:

    What if it was one in a million? One in a billion? One in a TRILLION!?!?! WE MUST DO ANYTHING WE CAN TO SAVE OUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN!!!!!

    If you feel, as a Christ follower, that eliminating peanut butter from your child's diet will help, then I agree, especially if you can afford fancier nut butters.

    But if this is a policy, that's something else.

    And I'm not getting why you disagree with the automobile analogy. If you chose to walk your kids to school every day, and walk everywhere you went, that would tangibly reduce the chances of a child being killed in an auto accident...a chance that is far more common than dying of a peanut butter allergy.

    Steve is right, though...if I had a kid with peanut allergies, I'd care, too. Then again, I'll probably have a kid susceptible to getting crazy sunburns, but I'm not going to force her school to ban recess for everyone just so she won't feel left out.

    (Skin cancer KILLS people, too.)

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  28. Two more things for the record:

    1) Peanut butter isn't all that great anyway.

    2) Steve Simpson is right: this wasn't satire. It was more a piece of observational comedy. But it was still a joke.

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  29. @Jordan...

    RE: #1 - How dare you?
    RE: #2 - satire, observational comedy... tomayto, tomahto

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  30. I am the wife of the author. He happens to be a little sarcastic, but let me tell you why it bothered me.

    It's more a financial issue than anything else. My husband has been freelancing and many months it barely pays our bills. We have 5 kids. Sometimes it's all we have. There was a month when we literally lived on pb&j's for lunch and boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner. 5/7 days a week for a month, that's what we ate. That way, I could stretch our dollar to include fresh fruit during lunch and a green vegetable for dinner. That's our reality.

    Sunbutter and the like are much more expensive than peanut butter - especially when you shop like I do and stock up when things are buy one get one free and then I can add a coupon. And to be honest - my 4th grader would rather have a turkey sandwich.

    I do not in any way want to prove a point by sending peanut products to school with my child. She is in no way entitled to have a pb&j sandwich, however, she does deserve a healthy filling lunch. I simply sent the teacher a note explaining our situation and telling her that sometimes it may be absolutely necessary given our financial situation. She understood and we have told our daughter to make sure she washes her hands if she eats it.

    It's not that we don't care about kids with allergies, but the fact of the matter is that peanut butter may be all we have.

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  31. One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling is that I can feed my children anything I want to. At any hour of day we choose. And I don't have to worry that my kids will trade with some other kid and get something they are allergic to, either.

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  32. In the interest of steering this back to a very sensitive topic, I have to say, we need to have a more biblical view of the world. I say this with a little girl on the way in December who will likely be a diabetic as I am. Injections and such are much less intrusive than an epi pen, but they do get wearisome.

    Points on a Christian view:
    1) Everything (everyone) must die before it can be resurrected.
    2) After we die, we get our life back! The new heavens and the new earth will be a place of equitable work and distribution of resources. Fruit and veggies should be easier to come by. And we won't have nasty debates about welfare and laziness. Or health care. Or fuel efficiency. So the life we get back won't be tainted by sin (or deathly allergies), and we get to enjoy our calling to work and steward the creation well.

    I'm already in love with my little girl, and God forbid a stillbirth or severe allergy, but I'm prepared for sin to dramatically affect her existence.

    And why do we so often forget that a 9/11 of children happens every day in Africa because they don't have peanut butter or anything else to eat?

    We should certainly care for those with severe allergies, but I think there's a line between care and control. The latter is evil, the former good. You will say that I control your child's destiny with peanut oil on my hand. Granted, but we need to live with open hands with the utmost of love. Control leads to fear, and fear leads to inhuman existence. Let's trust God with these awful eventualities.

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