As if I didn't know it already, I got "schooled" once again on how much we nut-free moms need to keep on our toes when we go out and about in our communities with our allergic kids.
Chicago and it's suburbs and big on block parties and ours was this past Saturday. We're new to the street, so we were interested to attend. And let me just say, our new neighbors are so nice! We really like them, so I tried hard not to take offense when somebody came up with the brilliant idea of a "peanut hunt." Yep, that's right--a peanut hunt. I've never heard of this game, but needless to say, when I found out about it, seconds before it occured, my heart dropped to my shoes.
Following the hunt, some of the kids filled paper bags with peanuts to create an impromptu "pinata" and then exploded them all over the place. Peanut dust flying through the air, the whole nine yards. Needless to say, my daughter was far away from this spectacle (with a loyal friend in tow) but it made me a wee bit nervous, shall we say. Looking at the mounds of peanuts and shells everywhere, I also thought "Is this really necessary?"
I'm constantly amazed at how peanuts are still considered such a "go-to" food for kids. Now, the neighbors that came up with the hunt have apparently done this every year for many years. So you could say the peanut hunt is a tradition. (Also, they do not have young kids themselves, anymore and may be unaware of how widespread peanut allergies are.) And I understand that messing with "tradition" doesn't go over so well. My younger daughter even participated in the peanut hunt, though she didn't eat any and she washed her hands afterwards.
But still--the cross-contamination concerns were then multiplied for me about a thousand-fold. My daughter handled it pretty well. Once I convinced her that the peanut dust had settled and I gave her the all-clear, she re-joined the party and that was that.
I'm going to see if we can eliminate the peanut hunt for next year's party, but I'm not sure if I'll get support for this. After all, we're the "new people" and the organizers of the block party have lived here upwards of 25 years.
Many non-allergic parents are sympathetic to nut allergies, but I find that just as many get that "eyes glazed over" look when you try to explain why nut allergies are such a problem. And who wants to come across as "Debbie Downer" at a block party? It's a dilemma.
All's well that ends well and frankly, my daughter took herself out of the situation without anyone asking her to, so that's encouraging. But like my husband said: "People sure love their peanuts."
They sure do.