life happens · treats

To Exclude or Not to Exclude.

popcorn-treatsOn the eve of my son’s bday celebration at school, a substantial glass of red and I, have been hard working at making The Treats. The ones that Manoli will be handing out tomorrow in his class.

There’s that word again. Treats. What to give. What does my son want. What can I actually make. What’s cool for a 7 year old. OH GOD must I really make 24 right now. Can all kids have everything to eat?

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs from POKWAs (parents of kids with allergies). Many parents write about school treats distributed in school. They’re concerned about their kid being excluded because she can’t have the treat all the other kids are having. The main reason for this exclusion is that there’s one or more ingredients in the food to which the child is allergic.

Oh, the issues that pop up.

  • Should there be stricter rules about what treats to bring in the classroom?
  • Should teachers be held responsible for what’s in the classroom?
  • Should the parents of the child with allergies be responsible for contacting the parents of the birthday kid and discuss treat possibilities? Which brings us to:
    1. Does kid with allergies get special treat from parent of bday kid?
    2. Or are/should all treats be allergy-friendly
  • Should the parents of the kid with allergies be responsible for bringing a treat for their own child? Which then brings us to:
    1. They first should contact birthday parents to ask about the treat, then try to make something similar?
    2. Make something different anyway?
    3. Rely on the box of allergy-safe treats they have at school for special occasions?

And while you’re at it, why doesn’t the school have a No Kid Excluded policy? Where everyone gets to be part of the celebration?  Why is food so different than other activities kids participate in?

That’s issues. The POKWA raises a lot of good discussion points. Does the bday kid really need to have his peanut butter bars at school to hand out as treats although they’re life-threatening to another child? Of course not. And even if the treats are not life threatening, must they be something that KWA can’t have? Why is there always the one kid who can’t equally partake in the celebration? Is it such a stretch to ask of parents to make/give something simple that every one can have?

Oh, the KWA (kid with allergies) can have something else. It’s OK. She’s used to it.

Does she need to get used to it? Sure. It’s life. But is it always so necessary? Not really. You see, I thought the point of the treat was to offer something to celebrate. Together.

In truth, I never really thought about the exclusion issues until I read those posts. That was recently. My kids never really complained about not having the same treat as everyone else. I always tried to either make something else, or have their special treat box at school full of fun alternatives. Occasionally, sweet and considerate parents have asked me what they can prepare for my kids. But still. It’s allergen-free food for thought (too much, the pun?).

In the end, it’s up to the parents and the bday kid to decide. No one will hold anything against anyone, as long as dangerous allergens are kept out. We know what it’s like to have to come up with 24 treats the night before. You want your kid to be happy and hopefully most of the other kids too.

So, on this eve, I’m finally done. Nearly 1.5 kilos of popcorn wrapped in bags. A 3-litre bag of leftovers. Another single-handedly eaten. And glass of red now empty. Tomorrow will be a poppin’ new day.

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