It’s Not All Mary Poppins

PBJ, Okay!

Thomas requested peanut butter sandwiches for lunch.

A pretty mundane, kid-friendly, unexceptional request, right? Ha! If you think that, you haven’t lived in urban Canada recently. I don’t know what it’s like in other places, but around here, peanut butter is next thing to a toxic substance.

Peanut butter has moved from a simple, inexpensive, and nourishing food for children to a probable poison, to be treated with utmost caution. If I were to feed these children peanut butter and then take them to the Tot’s Time at the library, no matter how thoroughly I washed their hands and faces, an Earnest Mommy who smelled it on their breath would be appalled at my willingness to put other children in such clear and immanent jeopardy. (People honestly believe that smelling peanuts on someone else’s breath can cause a deadly reaction in allergic people. Urban myth, according to allergy specialists at CHEO, our local and highly-regarded Children’s Hospital.)

I do take it seriously when needful. I’ve had at least one allergic, or potentially allergic child in care at any point over the last seven years, and so it has been seven years since I have been able to serve peanut butter to the tots. Seven years!

Suddenly, it seems, there are peanut-allergic kids everywhere; nuts and nut products are banned from all the local elementary schools; everyone knows someone who carries an epipen. (An automatic injector filled with epinephren, an adrenaline derivative, I think, to be used in case of serious allergic reactions.) At one point, four of the five children in my care had epipens: three for peanut butter, and one for beestings. In truth, despite all the hullaballoo about peanut allergies, the beesting one worried me more. Peanut butter sandwiches don’t fly.

George’s mother has a strong peanut allergy, and so had asked that I not give any to him until he’d been tested. He was tested a couple of weeks ago, and was declared a peanut-safe zone.

So, today, when Thomas asked for peanut butter sandwiches, I decided we’d take a walk on the wild side. May not seem like much to you, but me? A restriction has been eliminated. Daring daredevil that I am, defier of social conventions, risk-taker par excellence, we’re having peanut butter sandwiches for lunch!

June 23, 2005 - Posted by | food


  1. Oh, it’s not that bad here yet, but I won’t be surprised when it is.

    And yes, the epi is an adrenaline deriviative. If not given, anaphylactic shock can occur which leads to death. I’ve been in anaphylactic shock and it ain’t fun.

    That being said, I do not ask other people to arrange their lives for me, nor would I if one of my children had the allergy. It’s my responsibility to make them safe, not anyone else’s. The exception to that, of course, would be a daycare or school environment; obviously with the amount of time they’d spend there, precautions would need to be taken.

    But if we’re talking about a trip to the library…well, please. That’s just silly.

    Comment by misfit | June 23, 2005 | Reply

  2. I never want to live life without peanut butter. Period. Peaches had better NOT be allergic! Fortunately, it is part of Baby Girl’s Food Pyramid. The bottom of her personalized Pyramid contains carbs (particularly “mugga-bars (her word for granola bars); the next layer is hot dogs and chix nuggets; then comes veggies (french fries) and fruit. The top would be peanut butter…and hummus. Those are the only two kinds of sandwiches she will eat.

    Four epipens? That seems like such an overwhelming responsibilty.

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | June 24, 2005 | Reply

  3. Misfit: as I said, I take it seriously when needful, but these people are just paranoid, and go way beyond reality in their zeal to protect their children. I’ve seen one child through a genuine, peanut-induced, very dramatic allergic reaction, and I have no wish to repeat it. (Thank goodness he barfed it all up before it got away on him…or thank goodness it got away from him before it overcame him.) But let’s distinguish facts from fiction, shall we?

    M. Hausfrau: ah, the joy of the eccentric food pyramid…

    Four epipens wasn’t that intimidating. After all, only one (the beesting boy) was a truly wild card. Everyone else was easy to monitor – even non-allergic me can smell peanut butter at 20 paces. And epipens are easy to administer: whip off the top, slam it into a thigh, and hold to a count of 8 (5 seconds). Easy-peasy. Thank god I never had to do it…

    Comment by Mary P. | June 24, 2005 | Reply

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