Food Allergy Fiasco: The Valentine’s Day Party

When you have food allergies, you are surrounded by poison. Everywhere you look, there are treats and meals that will, should you eat even a crumb of them, kill you over the space of maybe twenty minutes. It makes Valentine’s Day tricky, to say the least.


Charlie isn’t old enough for pre-school, but I got a preview of what’s ahead when his four-year-old brother showed me the bag of Valentines he’d collected at preschool yesterday. I sent Max off to preschool with some paper Valentines, not realizing that nearly every other kid was headed there with candy. It’s no problem for Max, as he has no food allergies, but I was caught off-guard when I showed up at the end of school (with Charlie) and he asked to bring the candy home. I explained that he could only save the non-food treats, and he understood. He was disappointed, of course, but Max takes a lot of responsibility for Charlie’s allergies. He tells people we meet about them and watches what Charlie eats, commenting on whether he thinks its safe.

vday2I was relieved to see that a few parents sent their kids with non-food treats. Now that I know what Valentine’s Day looks like at school, I’ll send some better non-food treats next time.

What will it be like for Charlie when he starts going to school? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want him around these temptations. It’s one thing to avoid milk or peanut butter. It’s another to not reach into your own Valentine bag and pull out the chocolate kiss – to not touch any of the candy because any of it could have been cross-contaminated. That’s a tough spot to be in when you’re a kid.

While I’m on the topic of temptation, I always get a kick out of the people who post comments online (often under news stories about how schools handle food allergies) about how candy bars with peanuts should be allowed in schools, and that FAKs (food allergy kids) should just consider those lethal snacks to be learning experiences. Really?  That’s a very high-stakes way to teach the kid self control that he’s not old enough to possess yet. Resist the temptation to taste the candy that everyone around you is eating, that other kids are encouraging you to eat and telling you that it’s perfectly safe. Sure! I’ll bet that most of the people who make those comments aren’t nearly so disciplined, themselves. I’d LOVE to know the BMI of some of those…people.


7 thoughts on “Food Allergy Fiasco: The Valentine’s Day Party

  1. We are so fortunate that our public school does not allow food as part of ANY celebration. I know I can feel confident on those “party” days that my son is just as safe as any other day. In his preschool this was not the case but his teachers were kind enough to make a second bag for him containing all of the edible treats so that he could go through his non-food treats safely. And those people who make those comments just make my blood boil!!!

  2. As a parent of a no-allergy kid, this candypalooza at preschool still drives me insane. Does a three year old need a bag of candy? Last year was worse for us with two preschool kids. Fortunately, kindergartners at my daughter’s school were under strict orders to not bring edibles.

  3. My preschooler came home with a ton of candy from Valentine’s Day. My son’s class was much smaller and he did get a few more treats. I’m always amazed that parents opt for candy over the other Valentines- pencils, toys, erasers. I usually make some candy ahead of parties so I have plenty for him that’s safe.

    I always get a kick out of people who think its their kids “right” to have Peanuts/nuts in schools.

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