My Child Is More Valuable Than Cake

My Child Is More Valuable Than Cake CradleRockingMama

Sigh. This a-gain? Didn’t we just DO this last year?

Why yes, yes, we did.

Renee Moilanen wrote about her discontent with her child’s school birthday party. And I wrote my rebuttal. (Along with about a zillion other Food Allergy Mama’s.)

All those heightened emotions…all that energy expended…and lookiehere: just ten months later and ANOTHER selfish clueless parent is complaining about the way food allergic children are sucking the joy out of her kids school birthday celebration.

This author, Carina Hoskisson, is much more subtle than Renee ever thought of being. Her article is titled “Why Do Your Kid’s Allergies Mean My Kid Can’t Have A Birthday?” and she doesn’t  have the audacity to smugly tell food allergic parents that we should simply feed our kids their allergic food because they probably won’t be TOO hurt by it, like Renee did.

No, she is sneakier than that.

She claims to have a food allergy herself, and to have known a girl in her hometown who died from a peanut allergy. So, you see, to a “certain extent, (she) get(s) it.”

Uh-huh. Right. 

Then she goes on to discuss how she’s “reaching the end of her rope” trying to accommodate all these different allergies, and speaks of the store-bought, preservative-laden foods she’s being forced to bring instead of her homemade goodies and says “I don’t want to.”

(Does anyone else have a mental picture of a 4 year old sitting with arms crossed, a scowl on their face with a gigantic frown as they loudly proclaim “I don’t want to!” when reading that comment?)

You don’t want to, Carina? Really? Wanna hear something *I* don’t want to do?

Deal with stupid people like you. 

I also don’t want to deal with food allergies in children, but, unlike you, I have no alternative. Yes, my kids have food allergies, and reading articles like yours is equal parts heartbreaking and terrifying for me.

Here’s the real deal, folks, in case you got lost in her subtlety and missed out on her main “reason for writing”: she is upset because her precious snowflake can’t eat whatever they want, whenever they want.

Not because her child has any food issues, but because she’s been asked to kindly consider the lives of OTHER children.

And we all know: OTHER children are not as valuable as HER child’s CAKE.

I’m sorry, I’m getting a tad snarky here. Let me try this another way.

There is no way for a Food Allergic Mama to read Carina’s article and not conclude that this woman – and the 42 THOUSAND people who “liked” the article on Facebook – believe in some parts of their mind that our children’s lives are less valuable than their child’s birthday cake.

If that doesn’t take the cake (pun intended) for the biggest slap in the face, the biggest threat to my child, then I just don’t know what does.

Sigh.

This battle between Food Allergy Mama’s and Non-Food Allergy Mama’s is not likely to stop any time soon. Every ten months or so, someone else will come out with a new article that will get everyone all riled up, and create an internet buzz for a week or so.

But here are a few things I thought of when reading this particular article:

First, do you know who typically does NOT have a problem with NOT eating a cupcake in order to keep a child alive and safe?

The other children in class. 

Small children generally like to help and make things better. They usually don’t have a problem with doing something different if it means their friend can continue to play with them.

So it’s not the kids who have a problem with not having a cupcake on their birthday, it’s their parents who have a problem.

If the kids are happy with a food-free classroom birthday celebration, then why is this even an issue?

Second, it is no wonder our country is so prone to obesity, when every activity, celebration, or event is centered around food.

It’s not that food is present at these moments, it is that the food is obviously the central focus of these events. 

It would never occur to some non-allergic people that a child could happily celebrate their birthday at school with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday!”, a card exchange, and perhaps sharing a few silly trinkets or tokens (like whistles or stickers).

It would never occur to some non-allergic people that Valentine’s Day could be celebrated in the classroom without copious amounts of candy being shared.

(As an aside, I remember Valentine’s Day when I was in Elementary School: we would spend our art session the day before decorating a shoe box; the next day, everyone would bring their Valentine’s in and distribute them amongst the boxes. IF anyone brought candy, we were always instructed that we could not eat it then and had to wait until lunch or after school. When did that change?)

Nowadays, though, there is no escaping the seemingly insatiable desire to stuff kids faces with food, regardless of whether it is the proper time or place for said face-stuffing.

Third, to continue that thought, when did food become normal in classrooms, anyway?

Not to age myself, but when I was in school we did this bizarre activity called “learning”…and it almost never involved eating! Eating was something you did at lunch time or after school, not something that was normal in the classroom. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that food ever made an appearance in the classroom, and that was incredibly rare.

Classrooms are not the proper place for food. If the kids are focused on eating, they aren’t thinking about learning. If the teacher is focused on the kids eating and not making a huge mess to clean up, then the teacher isn’t focused on teaching.

Why can’t food simply be banned in classrooms for educational reasons?

Fourth, all of this is moot, anyway, because – newsflash for you, Carina and Renee – ACCOMMODATING ALLERGIES IN SCHOOL IS THE FREAKING LAW.

Allergies and Asthma are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A disability is defined as “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or is regarded as having such impairments. Breathing, eating, working and going to school are major life activities.”

Most Food Allergy Mama’s have a 504 plan in place for their child. This plan outlines exactly how the school will make school a safe place for the child to fully engage in their education.

So if the non-food allergy parents are mad at the school for imposing these restrictions, well, tough cookies. The school is following the law.

If they’re mad at the parents for imposing these restrictions, well, tough cookies again. No Food Allergy Parent is going to send their young child off to school without the protection of a 504 plan.

Obviously, if left up to people like Renee and Carina, those irritating food-allergic children would be sent to the principal’s office for all celebrations, and they’d probably do a half-assed job of wiping down all the surfaces food touched…rolling their eyes at the necessity of a thorough scrubbing and calling a quick water wipe down “good enough”.

So, deal with it, ladies. We can’t count on your kindness and empathy, so we will count on the law to keep our children safe. 

Now, I read a lot of comments about how Food Allergy Parents are “insulating” their children from “the realities of life” and that these kids must be taught to self-advocate.

I couldn’t agree more. 

Here’s the thing, though: it’s one thing to send your 15 year old food allergic kiddo off into the world, navigating pizza parties, ice cream socials, and birthday parties…it’s an entirely different story when discussing a 5, 6, 7 or even 8 year old (depending on maturity level).

Children at that age are not helpless imbeciles; they understand they have limitations (probably better than anyone!) and that not all food is safe for them. The problem at that age is that they often are not quite confident enough in their label reading and awareness to realize what foods are ‘hiding’ their allergens. 

They count on their parents to keep them safe, while teaching them how to navigate their allergy.

Their parents count on basic human decency from other parents during this “transition” phase to help keep the child safe.

And that is why these “Renee’s” and “Carina’s” are so distressing to Food Allergy Mama’s. If you can’t count on the support of other mothers, either because of basic human decency or because of compliance with the law, you will live in fear every time your child goes to school.

Because you know, even while your child blissfully skips off to class, that the life of your most precious gift – your child’s LIFE – is considered less valuable to those other school moms than a Wal-mart sheet cake. 

And that is terrifying.

My children are more valuable than cake. 

And so are yours. 

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15 Responses to My Child Is More Valuable Than Cake

  1. Daddy Puppy says:

    Carrie,

    I agree 100% with you. I think most people truly don’t understand just how serious most of the newly aware allergies are. Many of us older folks remember allergic kids way back when, when it was basically limited to shellfish and ragweed. The recent studies and technology have awakened many of us to just how many things are triggers and how dangerous they can be. We aren’t talking about sneezes and runny noses any longer and have to deal with serious and painful reactions and even death. When you move from “life altering” to “life threatening” it becomes so much more intense for all involved.

    Unfortunately, it seems these two mothers ARE AWARE but don’t care! Frightening situation and rather a disgusting reaction from a Mother! So I will have to assume they are just ignorant, selfish people. Hopefully, they will get it some day and not want to risk some childs life with trivial things like cake or cookies and realize just how stupid they are acting.

    I have to ask…………….did you assemble the cake while in a rage because of the response from those idiot Mothers? LOL

    DP

  2. Monica says:

    I agree completely. Food should not be allowed at all in the classroom. Not only to accommodate allergic children, but what about kids with diabetes, crohn’s dx, ulcerative cholitis, etc that are all on special diets.kids should get a happy birthday ribbon to wear, and parents can pass out non food related goodies like pencils or stickers. Not only that I would not want my child eating some homemade item from someone’s kitchen you don’t know. Also with this world if getting sued I would hate to be responsible for some kids illness from something I made or provided.

    My kid is definitely worth more than some kids cake

  3. Amy in SC says:

    Wow. People are awful.

    I don’t like all the food in school either. We home school, but church is getting out of control. It used to be a few older people giving the little kids a peppermint or something. Now every Sunday there is snack. And way too many special days. I get tired of saying no all the time. Even without allergies, navigating food these days is a mess. I don’t want me kids eating ultra processed junk any time they can think of a reason. We just had our 3rd birthday in 2 weeks, 2 Sundays of candy, 1 Wednesday AWANA program with candy, and Valentine’s day. My kids don’t need any more food. I’m tired just thinking of severe allergies with all this. Honestly, though, I would give up food or whatever else was necessary to celebrate with friends. Being with people is more important than eating certain food. We can always eat more at home.

    Hugs to you.

    • Carrie says:

      Oh, Amy, yes to the church thing! We’ve only been to church a few times since Zac’s diagnosis because the food situation is just outrageous. There’s a snack during Sunday School, and less than an hour later, another snack during the children’s service. None of it is healthy food – it’s the cheapest pre-made cookie type stuff you can find!

      When I asked who I needed to talk to about the snack situation, before I could even continue my thought to say “…because I’d love to bring snacks for all the kids that my kids could eat safely”, I was interrupted with a spiel about how getting rid of the snacks wasn’t an option and really, everyone there would make sure my kids didn’t eat anything.

      Really? So ALL the kids will get to eat, but my kids will go without and feel like freaks, and you think THAT is a good solution? UGH!

      I was so disgusted by that little exchange I just decided I didn’t feel like even trying to offer to bring safe snacks for everyone and we simply stopped going to church.

      I hate that; I really want my kids raised in a good church family, and aside from the snack issue, our church is very loving and warm. Sigh. Maybe someday I’ll take on the stress of that particular battle.

      What you wrote about being with people being more important than eating certain foods really resonates. I think you cut right to the core of the issue with that one comment. Thank you! And hugs right back. 🙂

  4. Rebecca says:

    I think the obvious subtext isn’t “my kid’s right to is more important than your child’s right to life”. It’s worse… It’s the idea that your child’s allergy is in their/your head. No sane person would expect anyone to allow rat poison in an elementary classroom even if some wacky kid had developed a tolerance (ala iocane powder) and wanted it for snack. They would be all, hell no your kid can’t have something that would poison mine! The real argument is that all of you “allergy mamas” are what? Munchhaussens by proxy? Only even they know that is beyond their right to talk about, so they talk about how their kid is “suffering.” If this were about conforming, we would conform to the mean… Which would be no food… Not conforming to the far left, right whatever direction you choose, of the entitled darlings of the world.

    We have all known at least one obnoxious person who says “I’m allergic to onion” when ordering at a restraint and then with an aside says, “really, I just hate them, but I say ‘allergic’ to make sure they really listen”. And those people make everyone question everyone else. I still don’t care… If one mama can be the only one who understands how devastating it is for her darling to miss out on homemade cupcakes, then another mama can be the only one who really understands how life threatening her child’s allergies really are.

    • Carrie says:

      Once again, Rebecca, you have an very interesting and accurate perspective. I think both subtexts are there, actually, now that I think about what you just wrote. First, they think we’re all over-reacting, and then, if proven that we aren’t, they think their cupcake is worth more than our kiddos life.

      Either way, they’re jerks.

      And yes, those “I’m allergic to onion” people tick me off.

      Thanks for making me think of a new perspective. (You’re really good at that!)

  5. dkaj says:

    Amen Carrie!!! I made sure to put my 2 cents in on that Huffington post.
    No-one is saying their child can’t have birthday cake. Just do it at home with your own family lady….. Don’t bring the cake to school and keep everyone safe. That’s the short version of my response. How many birthday parties does their little one really need??? I’m sure that was coming from a mom who spends $500 on a birthday party at one of the biggest rec centers in her area. Jeez!!!
    Thanks for posting so I could add my 2 cents.

  6. LS says:

    “It would never occur to non-allergic people that a child could happily celebrate their birthday at school with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday!”, a card exchange, and perhaps sharing a few silly trinkets or tokens (like whistles or stickers).
    It would never occur to non-allergic people that Valentine’s Day could be celebrated in the classroom without copious amounts of candy being shared.”

    As a “non-allergic person”, I find this section to be a bit jarring, accusatory and alienating. I actually agree that a child can celebrate their birthday at school without sweet treats. I would prefer that they get to wear a special hat all day or such. I also am grateful that my kids prefer the trinkets in their Valentine’s Day bags to the candy. Plenty of us agree with these things or various reasons, and lumping us all together as one villainous set is not constructive.

    –a fellow mom, who doesn’t want to put your child at risk for the sake of cake, or for the love of peanut butter

    • Carrie says:

      LS, you are absolutely right. I was on a bit of a tear thinking of the non-allergic moms who WOULD put other kids at risk and didn’t consider how that statement would be read by the wonderful moms like you who are considerate. It certainly wasn’t meant to alienate or accuse those lovely people who actually DO support families with allergies. I’ll add a little word in there that might ensure no one else reads it this way. Thanks for pointing this out! 🙂

  7. Wait, you mean my kids is more important than cake?! That’s such an interesting idea! Gaaahhhh!!!

    I find the whole idea that it’s a travesty having a kid pass up a cupcake for 8 hours one day a year so absurd. While this crazy lady makes the case that we’re catering to the minority (an expression I loathe), she misses the idea that she’s expecting the class to cater to her son by recognizing him for his birthday. It’s totally cool that each kid gets recognized for their bday (except those poor summer bday kids get left out … but that’s a different post). I’m not at all opposed to that, but to even remotely expect that it’s reasonable to exclude a few kids from that celebration because it’s inconvenient makes me want to throw something. WTF?!

    And, you’re 100% right–it’s not the kids who have a problem with this … it’s the parents. Interestingly enough, these adults could really learn a thing or two from the kids. About compassion, inclusion, and being a decent human being!

    • Carrie says:

      I love how you point out that she expects people to cater to her son, but resents catering to other people. Entitled, much?

      And I was one of those summer birthdays that never got a celebration at school. I suspect I’m severely traumatized by that annual lack of personal celebration. Can’t you tell I barely function in the world? LOL

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