Wednesday, September 12, 2007
p is for peanut
about three years ago, i was finishing up my MAT and trying to decide what would be my next step after graduation. i felt a new freedom was just around the bend, my children were about to begin preschool and i was no longer going to be a slave to my trips into area elementary schools, my student teaching, or my night classes. i just had to write my thesis and i would be off and running...doing something new...something i love...a break from the classroom...something totally me...i decided to open an antique shop. my husband was completely supportive. he believed it was something i could do well. he was almost as excited about it as i was and he was a huge help. we picked out the location, we started going to market and we began making some great purchases for the store. for months i thought about the perfect name and with much care i named my little shop, "found a peanut." i started to collect old peanut paraphernalia and old mr. peanut began to cover the shelves of my home. my store was going to be in an historic part of town. i was going to have rocking chairs and bowls of peanuts on my welcoming front porch. men who wanted to sit while their wives shopped could find a comfortable spot there while they snacked on the free legumes. we were going to have "find a peanut sales." i was going to paint and hide peanuts for the children - the finder of the pink peanut would get a whopping 25 percent off of their family's purchase. i wanted my place to embrace the community, to have soul. it was all i could think about. i was planning and shopping and sketching and dreaming away when i went into my final MAT class one saturday morning - research writing . i was told i had to pick my research topic within 15 days. bleh! with all of the exciting things going on in my mind, nothing could have sounded more dull. i decided i was going to breeze through this thesis writing year as easily as i could. after all, would i ever teach? i was going to be a shop owner! but something happened before my next class that changed all of my plans. my son ate a cookie and stopped breathing. we found out he had a life threatening allergy to my beloved peanut. when i discovered this news, i did what all parents do, i immediately began researching as much as i could about this allergy. the timing couldn't have been more perfect, my thesis: "are elementary schools safe for children with severe peanut allergies?" there began a huge shift in my priorities. my store not only needed a new name and theme, but i strongly felt i had a better job to do. the store could wait. for the past three years, my attention has been greatly focused on food allergy research and keeping my son safe. two weeks ago we traveled to johns hopkins to meet dr. robert wood. he is a world renowned pediatric allergy specialist who also happens to be allergic to peanuts. he has written a new book, food allergies for dummies, that is very thorough and addresses every aspect of the allergic person's lifestyle. he explains why peanut allergies are especially deadly. as you can imagine, the peanut and i are not the same as we used to be. i no longer think of it as the sweet little bundle of protein i once did. when i think back about the store that almost was, and the name i once chose, i can't help but think it wasn't a coincidence. i just believe for some reason the peanut and i were meant to have this close relationship.