Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No More Sunbutter

I'm not going to pack sunbutter sandwiches in my son's lunches anymore, at least not for a while.

I had noticed for the last several weeks that he periodically asked me not to give him sunbutter and jelly sandwiches in his lunch box.

It surprised me but I thought that his love of sunbutter was waning. It had been his favorite sandwhich. He liked it so much that he would often ask for it at dinner (as if I was going to let him miss out on the gourmet entree I was serving).

Then, when we were visiting friends this weekend, he was offered a choice of sandwiches. He excitedly requested sunbutter. I noticed and in the back of my mind had a nagging feeling it didn't add up.

Last night at bed time, as I was tucking him in, he said,
"Momma, please don't give me sunbutter in my lunch tomorrow."

I asked, "Why?"

The answer he gave me tugged at my heart.

The older kids in the lunch room notice him sitting at the peanut-free table with sunbutter and they tell on him. They tell a teacher that he has peanut butter. They tell on him every time he brings sunbutter.

The lunchroom aides know about the sunbutter. In fact, I brought it in for them to see and sample. I also asked if it was okay he had it for his lunch. They do not have a problem with him bringing in sunbutter. Most of the time (sometimes I forget), I write "sunbutter" on the sandwich bag. He never gets in trouble for the sunbutter.

Sometimes the kids tell a teacher that is not one of the aides familiar with my son and his sunbutter sandwiches. Sometimes, the kids tell the aides that know. It doesn't matter. The kids tell on him. The aides or teachers have to check. My son gets extra attention that he doesn't want.

He told me, slyly, "Momma, sometimes, I take a bite of my sunbutter sandwich and I hide it in my lunchbox when I am not eating it."

gulp *sigh*

I don't know if the older kids are trying to be responsible or trying to get a smaller kid in trouble. Either way, if they are reporting a possible peanut butter sandwich at the peanut-free table, it isn't all bad.

Since my son has a peanut allergy, I am delighted that the aides are checking about a potential peanut butter sandwich at the peanut-free table every time they are told about it.

But... My son is the only kid in his school (of about 350 students) with a peanut allergy. The peanut-free table was set up this year specifically to keep him safe. Other safety precautions, like keeping all of the packed lunches from his class in a box outside of the classroom, were put in place to limit his exposure to peanut products. His allergy gets attention. I tend to think he is used to it.

His request reminded me that he is a normal kindergartener that doesn't want undue attention from other kids and teachers.

I want his lunchtime to be as pleasant as possible.

We will keep sunbutter at home. And, I think sometimes I'll let him have a gourmet sunbutter sandwich for dinner.


cbogie said...

Those darn kids keep you on your toes, eh. How aggravating - attention, the kind you describe, anyways - an unintended side effect of an allergy.

Jenny said...

Wow, I hadn't considered this scenario, but I'm going to think that the kids are on peanut butter patrol and not trying to get him in trouble. I think this because kids used to always do this for my daughter--and they still do. The ones who like her monitor what she eats. It's actually kind of comforting to me. Also, kids are much more aware of food allergies than adults are. They've been hearing about it all their lives.

I understand your little guy not wanting to be singled out. It's hard when he's the only one. My daughter was the only one for the longest time and it was tough.

Hope lunch gets better for your guy soon. I'm glad he has a peanut-free table, though. So many schools don't.

MiMi said...

Kids can be SUCH brats!
So, JA, tell me, does that poor little boy have to sit by himself?? Please tell me no...

Carrie said...

aww :( I'm glad that the adults are trying their best to keep an eye on the peanut allergy...but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt them to let the other kids know that he is the one with the allergy and his sandwhich is not peanut butter...and to please let it go! sigh... but it's hard to tell when you're not there sometimes. Guess all you can do is spoil him for dinner :)

RLR said...

This tugs at my heart today. While I'm proud of the other kids for reporting it (if they are doing it for the right reason!), it's still tough for this mom to take.
I volunteer at my childrens' school during the lunch period (not in either of their classrooms), and today I was very aware of the number of peanut butter sandwiches in the classroom. While my daughter's class is nut- and peanut-free, the class in which I volunteer is not. Today, there were three sandwiches with pb in 11 bag lunches.
I can't exactly pinpoint this feeling I have. It's not grief, not sadness, but it does leave me feeling like I'm carrying a bit of a weight today.
Hugs to your son - for having to deal with this situation, and for speaking up to you about it. Hugs to you, too, and my thanks for sharing this story.

Beth E. said...

I was wondering the same thing as MiMi...Bless your son's heart! I'm sorry he's had to deal with that.

Unfortunately, there are always gonna be issues in school. Every student struggles - at one time or another - with other kids giving them a hard time or teasing them because of being different (or being perceived as different) in some way.

Our oldest son was teased because I used to pack his lunch with a holiday or seasonal napkin...so I started using plain napkins. Then, he was teased because I wrote notes on the napkin....I stopped writing the notes. It wasn't just him getting teased, though. I used to occasionally go to the school to have lunch with one of my boys. It was happening all over that cafeteria! Kids, for the most part, can be very cruel.

The important lesson I learned was to equip and enable my sons to handle those situations, because they'll have to deal with unkind people throughout their lives!

Foursons said...

Aw, poor baby. I'm glad he finally told you what was going on.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

:( My heart breaks for your guy. Hiding his sandwich makes me want to cry. I know how you feel because my guy has issues at lunch too. I don't know exactly what happens, but there are days he brings home his lunch exactly as I packed it. This is the boy that can't get enough food at home, so I know he's hungry. He also won't eat things at school that he will at home. He loves lunch meat rolled up (due to his wheat allergy, he's not used to eating sandwiches) but he won't take lunch meat to school. He says "My lunch stinks". I use a cold pack so I know it isn't the meat. I have a feeling someone made fun of him. At the beginning of the year, he would vomit during lunch and it wasn't because of a reaction. I have feeling he got picked on.
The lunch I pack him now is sad. I've always tried to pack balanced, healthy meals, but now I just pack fruit, yogurt, cookies and pretzels. It's all he'll eat. I figure he gets 2 other good meals at home so it's better to give him something he'll eat and that doesn't make him feel too different. At least he's not vomiting anymore. :(

McCrakensx4 said...

Wow...that is too bad...although I am glad that he was able to tell you and it's not so bad having sunbutter for dinner every once in awhile.

aerotatt said...

mimi- My son tells me he sits with JA's son at lunch every day. We are good friends, and make sure our son always has a lunch that is Peanut free.

He & Me + 3 said...

Aww that poor little guy is already feeling peer pressure at the ripe ole age of Kindergarten. That makes me sad that kids have to pick on other kids and just be mean. You are such a good mom.

Jane Anne said...

Yep, everyone, my little one has friends to sit with at lunch- including aerotatt's son (who sits with him everyday) and others, too. Interestingly, he said today that his friend that has soybutter doesn't get told on because his parent's always remember to write soybutter on the bag. You bet I will do a better job remembering... though I can't imagine that the older kids are taking the time to read the words written on the sandwich bags. Oh well, this phase will pass. As my husband always reminds me- it could be worse.

Carmom said...

My heart just breaks hearing about this. It has got to be tough on all of you. I hope that you all are able to come to some solution that allows him to bring his sunbutter in peace.

Jessica said...

:( Poor guy. It's hard to be different sometimes. How lucky he is to have you as a mom!