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.
  posted at 8:31 AM  

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Kellie said...

The food allergy epidemic is so baffling to me. Luckily, my daughter is not allergic, but I remember when she was just a baby and toddler I was terrified to give her that first taste of peanut butter: It had to be a day when my husband was home, when the pediatrician's office was open. I was a wreck. Luckily, she wasn't allergic, and unfortunately, it's one of the only things she will eat on a sandwich. But now her kindergarten class is nut-free and chocolate-free, and I know I'm going to be at a loss for what will be an acceptable treat to bring in, since so many things are made in factories with peanut products. It seems like food allergies are much more common than when I was a kid. Is it more publicity or is something happening that is causing this? I hope people like you and all those wonderful researchers can figure it out.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger paige said...

i think its awesome when a parent just takes on such an active role as advocate for their baby! best wishes in your endeavor to help that precious boy of yours.
&keep us posted if & when the shop opens, with a new name of course~

At 10:41 AM, Blogger sisters with style said...

I totally know what you are going through. My youngest son was diagnosed with a peanut, nut, dairy, and egg allery about a year and a half ago. It is a scary world for those with a life threatening food allergy.

Thanks for the name of the book. I am definitely going to have to purchase this.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Bethany Hissong said...

I think parents and teachers are starting to get a lot more educated than they used to be... when I started teaching in the late 80's, we had no idea that those things existed. Thank goodness I never accidently gave a student some of my peanut butter cookies or anything. I'm a huge peanut butter lover.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger PAT said...

Wow, I'm speechless. Wonderful post and work! My best to you!


At 5:56 PM, Blogger funky monkey said...

Hi Meg,

My daughter’s best friend also has a life threatening peanut allergy. Their next door neighbor insists on feeding squirrels whole peanuts and they of course come into our friend’s yard to eat them and leave the shells. So, the little one cannot even play outside in her own back yard. They have tried to talk with the neighbors but to no avail.

Some people.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger funky monkey said...

Sorry, not Meg-Bethy!

At 8:39 PM, Blogger navybluegirl said...

We have a SEVERE peanut allergy in our pre-school class. I don't know if I'm saying this correctly, but I think he scored a 98% for how allergic he is to peanuts. Our teacher has asked us not to serve peanuts on the days our kids attend school. We have, of course, agreed. I don't remember any of this when I was little. So scary. I gave my son his first peanut butter in the hospital after I had my second...just in case he went into shock.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger tiffany said...

I can sympathize. My almost 3 year old is also allergic to peanuts. Same thing- one bite of a cookie and 30 minutes later we were in the ER. Thanks for the book rec. I've found that now that she is gaining some independence, the allergy is even more scary. Before I was always right there and could control everything that she ate. Luckily our preschool is peanut free.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Meg said...

That's a great story, homedaisy. Thank you for sharing it.

How strange that you had so many months of thinking and dreaming about the little peanut and what it meant to you and what it would mean to your shop. And now it means something so different. Still very powerful, but now so very serious, too.

I am not familiar with food allergies in a personal sense, but my heart aches for all the little children who seem to be battling this fight (why does it seem like there are so many more kids these days, is it true that there are? why?) It seems like such a heavy responsibility for someone small to assume. Plus, it's something that so many of us simply took for granted as one of life's little pleasures.

Sounds like the doctor you met is a trusted and knowledgeable resource. I'm glad to know you are finding the answers you need through people like him.

And, as for your son, what a blessing he is to have shown you what a difference you could make in life...a difference in an area that you probably never considered before. The work that you're doing on his behalf will certainly have ramifications for countless other children as well. I wish you a lot of continued luck and success as you continue it.

At 4:13 AM, Blogger Jen said...

I can't believe the number of people allergic to peanuts. I hope you don't give up on your dream shop. You would be perfect for it.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger chriskauf said...

Hello, fellow peanut allergic mom here, amazing your story , a shop named for peanut , incredible, sounded fun, but life threatening destination for families like ours.
My daughter is going on 4 years now, she ate a small choc covered peanut around halloween instantly , instantly started to severely react , her only bad reaction thankfully, two others she had from just touching something that had trace amounts of peanuts, that is the most alarming. Come on by I just did a post yesterady about this topic , in Ontario our schools are very safe because of Sabrina's Law, a girl who died at school due to cross-contamination, my greatest fear. Everyday is full of fear , when I send her off to school.
I feel sick just writing about it.
Hope to get to know you , we have to all ban together to fix this probelm plaguing our precious children.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Kimber said...

This story rang true with me...My blog is called 3 peanuts and my nickname for my older son was peanut and he is deathly allergic too!



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