Fri, 03/25/2011 - 12:03 pm PST by Jess
As if being a working mom doesn’t create enough karmic guilt for me as it is, today I’m stalled on the topic of nuts. Peanuts to be exact. With the recent national attention a public school in Florida is getting from parental outcry against a child with peanut allergies, it stirred up my Daily Defender Karma Meter. I’m an Aquarian… I’m supposed to believe and fight for the underdog. So why am I feeling like these parents might have a point?
My daughter attends a small private school, and just this fall she came home with a note saying there was child in the lower grade with a “severe peanut allergy.” The note asked us to not bring snacks or food to the classroom that contained nuts, and to remind kids not to share. They also had a discussion with the students and singled out the child with the allergy.
At the time, my child was not in the class with the child who actually had the allergy. In fact, she didn’t know or have any interactions with him. Nor did she have any combined classes. However, they did all eat in the same cafeteria. I didn’t think too much about it until my daughter started saying “mommy, lets say some prayers for Jimmy (not his real name).” I asked why, and she said, “Well, he could die if even gets near a peanut.” I realized she was pretty worried about it. Then, as the days went on, she started expressing more concern about what I was packing in her lunch. “Mom, no peanut butter sandwiches! If I breathe near Jimmy he might die.”
I started to get frustrated. Clearly she was misinformed and operating out of fear. And more telling was that my 7-year-old was seemingly adjusting her normal safety compliant life to assure that one child would not die or be seriously hurt. Yes, it’s sweet and kind that she is worried, but I also didn’t want my child to be caring such a heavy load on her mind. She’s a Pisces though, so her sweet and altruistic personality is undeniable. I know that. I just did what parents do. I sat with her and talked to her about all kinds of things you do to follow safety rules, avoid spreading germs, and other classroom hazards. But most importantly I took the burden of possibly killing another student off her shoulders. I told her, “Do your best. And if Jimmy ever needs help, call 911 and grab the most immediate adult.” She seemed ok.
Needless to say, it was a speed bump. We moved on. And after the initial hubbub, everyone seems to have found a rhythm.
But today I have a hint of empathy for the protesting parents. It’s hard enough to get your own family into a routine each day. It’s hard enough raising your own kids and making sure they get to school, get good grades, eat healthy, stay off drugs, etc. Now we need to make adjustments to our already complex routine to not misstep and inadvertently harm a single kid with a severe allergy.
So what if it was my kid with the allergy? Well, again, I’m Aquarian. I own my own stuff. I am a believer that there are few things we actually control in this world. So at the end of the day, teaching your kids to not rely on the universe to cater to you is a powerful skill. Make your path. And if you're lucky, your family and close friends will be there to guide you. Total strangers and class mates are not as obligated.
Karmically… I’m still unresolved. What do you think?