My Three Kid Circus

This may be as crazy as it gets… but we're lovin' it!

The Call Every Parent Dreads September 21, 2010

Filed under: Bento — Sarah @ 4:38 pm

When people ask me, “Why bento?” this reason has never popped into my mind.  But after today, I think I might be bento-ing as long as my kids allow.

The New #1 Reason I Bento:  SAFETY

My son has a Clone Wars lunch box.  The same one that every other kindergarten through second grade boy carries.

My son also has a peanut allergy.  We have been diligent in teaching him to keep his lunch in his lunch box, to not share food, to not touch anyone’s lunch, to not trade lunch items.  It never crossed my mind to teach him to actually look at his lunch before he eats.  And honestly, he’s usually so hungry by lunch hour, I’m pretty sure he inhales without looking.

Enter bento.

It looks different.  His containers are uniquely his.  Well, maybe not.  I’ve converted a lot of local people to my favorite Lock ‘n Lock box.  But once he gets his box open, his lunch is pretty definitely his.  He seldom gets sandwiches and if he does, they’re usually arranged in a way that require him to dig around a bit.

Which might just save his life.

Today, one of his classmates who also has a peanut allergy, grabbed what he thought was his lunchbox out of the lunchcart.  He opened his ziplock bag and took a big bite of what he thought was his sandwich.

You guessed it.  It was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I think he’s okay.  After a trip to the nurses station for whatever his allergy plan protocol states, he went to the hospital as a precaution.  That’s pretty standard if epinephrine is given, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Now my son, plus his two classmates with peanut allergies set their lunchboxes on the teacher’s desk.  My stomach is still bouncing.  But believe me, tomorrow and every day after for as long as I can convince my son, I will be packing him a bento lunch.

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2 Responses to “The Call Every Parent Dreads”

  1. VIcki Says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. SO thankful that kiddo is ok. My daughter carries an epi pen for her severe dairy allergy and I shudder to think about her leaving her protected preschool (class size of 9) of families who all care about her safety and therefore don’t pack anything that contains dairy in their kids’ lunches. Those damn bunny cheddar crackers, goldfish, messy yogurt containers, birthday treats, etc. etc. are what make me lie awake in bed at night wondering if I will also be going to kindergarten from 8:30-3:00 with her. Every single day. Would love to hear how you have taught your son to be safe while at school. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so grateful for the new awareness about lunch safety.

    • Sarah Says:

      We are fortunate in that my son’s reactions are mild, though he does carry an epi-pen as they can change without any build-up. That being said, since the time we’ve known about his allergy (18 months), we’ve taught him to be responsible for himself. We decided that since we ultimately can’t control his environment, we needed to teach him to keep himself safe. At preschool, he learned to ask whether every snack or treat was safe. However, since he was only a preschooler at the time, we 1) checked the snack before we left and 2) let his teachers know that he should be asking. He was going thru the process of making sure he was safe, even though as his parent, I had already ensured that he would be. This has been huge and even today, he still asks before eating a new food. We’ve also taught him which snacks are safe, which snacks are high risk. He knows to avoid granola bars, chocolate, etc…We also have point blank told him he could die if he makes bad choices. As he’s gotten older, we’ve taught him that he is to keep his lunch in his box, not share, not trade, etc…Every year, I send his teachers (and when we were at co-op, the parents) an email describing his reactions, info on how to read labels, safe foods, high risk foods and thank them for their cooperation in keeping him safe. So far we have been blessed with teachers who are on board. I know that every teacher who has a child with a life-threatening allergy is trained to use an epi-pen, and when they go on field trips, if I am not present, he was partnered with or near the teacher so his meds were immediately available.

      My son also had an odd “power” over his friends last year. I heard from some of the moms that their kids had requested no PBJ so they could sit next to him at lunch! And I also know that some of them were really good about washing their hands if the did have PBJ so they could play safely at recess.

      In all honesty, I actually feel safer with him at elementary school because there is a trained nurse on staff. My friend, who has a daughter with severe dairy allergy provided her own classroom snacks and kept in close contact with the room mom for party planning so she could ensure that her daughter would have an alternate or safe treat. She too eats with her friends at lunch and uses many of the same “safe” tactics as my son.

      My next step is to start teaching him to read labels. As you know, most labels are pretty user friendly now. If there is no label, he’ll have to turn it down if I am not there.

      Its scary, and before he entered kindergarten, I was a nervous wreck. But last year, between having a supportive teacher and staff, plus his proven ability to take care of himself, I feel much better. I know some parents have gotten their kids 504 plans, which if her allergy is severe enough, you could consider looking into.

      Hope that helps!


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