Recently, a nearby friend told me that individuals with allergies and asthma should not eat eat edible flowers. I had never really given it any thought; opportunities to eat flowers just don't arise on a frequent basis. During a class visit to the school garden, however, her peanut allergic 5 year old was offered an edible flower and promptly, obediently ate it. Hives. Fast. Fortunately, nothing else occurred, all of the appropriate adults immediately noticed the allergic reaction and benadryl was administered. The parents were notified. Subsequent discussions have taken place with the hope of avoiding future reactions. Scary.
It is difficult to anticipate every scenario that will come up in school. Before we sent our kindergartener off to elementary school, I asked many questions--as this mother did--and expressed concerns about potential reactions. The school's response was to try to assuage fears, citing the high number of allergic students, years without incidents, etc, and after a while, I began to relax. This recent incident, however, is a reminder that despite best intentions, it is impossible to anticipate every allergy risk. It is difficult for the school to inform parents of the details of every class activity. Therefore, we must somehow constantly remind the children and the teachers of food allergy risks. The challenge is how to do to this--how to have a presence and protect your child, without making yourself unwelcome. We have to walk a fine line. Maybe all those years working in diplomacy and international affairs in Washington do have application outside DC. I'm about to find out.