I never imagined I'd be a one of those peanut moms.
When my first child, Cameron, was about 2 1/2, I was having some peanut butter toast, and he wanted a bite. I was an editor at a parenting magazine at the time, and was well-versed in the prevalence of severe allergies, but I thought, "I've waited long enough; it's probably fine."
Within five minutes, Cameron had thrown up. We hoped it was just one of those random kid vomits, but it was hard not to feel a bit of panic. We mentioned it at our next doctor's visit. "It's probably nothing," she said, "but it might be a good idea to talk about testing him." Before we'd made it to the allergists', he'd accidentally been given a peanut butter candy by a Sunday school teacher who thought she'd procured Halloween-coloured Smarties from the bulk bin. Again he threw up, and this time he turned pale and clammy.
I guess it was no surprise when a scratch test turned up positive, and it's something we've learned to live with, but I went through a strange mourning period, if you'll excuse the hyperbole. I couldn't believe we would have to become those hyper-vigilant people who had to throw wet blankets on birthday parties and trips to the ice cream shop.
If you haven't read Kristin Rushowy's interesting piece about the allergy debate that's popped up surrounding St. Stephen Catholic School, please do. Readers are engaged in a particularly passionate debate.
Long before I became one of those peanut moms, I found it the tenor of people's opposition to food restrictions in shared spaces surprising. After all, what do one individual's snacking preferences amount to stacked up next to someone else's life-threatening allergy? Will it really not be a baseball game if you can only get a ticket in the peanut-free zone?
We see that same anger, and suggestion that the "healthy" child's individual rights are in jeopardy, in the debate happening among this story's commenters. Check it out and add your voice to the debate, or let me know what you think by commenting on this blog.
As for my Cameron, who's active, strong and rarely has a cold or fever, I think he's a perfectly healthy. I guess, like any other parent — with our bottles of hand sanitizer, reminders to look both ways, and "eat-your-vegetables" reprimands — I'm just trying to keep him that way.