We’re starting to talk about homeschooling.
And by “talk about” I mean we start to discuss homeschooling and then I howl “NOOOOOOO!” and that pretty much ends the conversation.
The only reason we’re even talking about homeschooling is because of Eva’s food allergies. Having her in school raises the risk that she’ll come into contact with an allergen, especially if she isn’t in a nut-free school, and most of the schools around us aren’t nut-free. They all have nut allergy policies, which usually means no nuts in classroom snacks and kids with allergies sit in a separate area of the lunchroom. Unfortunately, that doesn’t cover the fact that nut allergies like Eva’s can be triggered by airborne particles. It also doesn’t cover the random peanut butter swipe on playground equipment from a kid who forgot to wash his hands. It also doesn’t cover well-meaning friends like the one who gave a peanut to her seven year old classmate without realizing she had a peanut allergy. And yes, she ate it. And yes, she died at school.
Cue discussions of homeschooling.
I would love it if the local schools went peanut-free. Of course, I would love it if everything went peanut-free. Like the planet. That would be really nice…but it’s not going to happen.
I have read stories of parents who were champions for their allergy kids and they turned entire school campuses into nut-free zones. That’s amazing. And exhausting to think about. Especially when I think about common reactions from people like this guy, who thinks allergy kids belong in bubbles (and the guy who agrees with him):
Or this person who likes the idea of enforcing segregation or forced homeschooling (and also takes a second to look back on the days when the allergy kids died and didn’t cause so many problems…):
To be fair, I don’t encounter these people too often. Most of the parents that I meet are happy to get the peanut butter out of their kids’ lunches and wash their hands and stock up on nut-free candy for the holidays. There are also a lot of parents who would stand shoulder to shoulder with me and throw rocks at the people who feel like peanut butter is more of a deserving right than an allergy kid’s right to go to school without dealing with potentially fatal risks.
But, I don’t know…I get that it sucks. It does suck. And I don’t want Eva to be known as the kid that has something wrong with her, which is what her label would be if she had to carry an Epi pack every day and sit at a different lunch table and grab the recess aide for every hive or wheeze.
I also already have nightmares of Eva not telling anyone that she’s choking a little bit. Playground attendants who don’t know what to do in an emergency. Substitute teachers who bring peanut candies to win the kids over.
(That last one is a valid concern, I’ll have you know, because I subbed for a year here in Salt Lake City and I was always packing candy. It never occurred to me that a kid might have a peanut allergy. I easily taught over a thousand different children and if one of them had a reaction, I would have had no idea what to do. I don’t even know that I would have gotten them to the main office fast enough. I lost a Kindergartener for an hour once, for crying out loud, because I was nineteen and I only made $5.60 an hour and I had no idea what I was doing. Scary scary scary.)
Anyway, we’re dipping our toe into the homeschooling conversation, since our options right now are (1) homeschool, (2) send Eva to the local school and just hope for the best, or (3) send Eva to a private nut-free school and pay eight grand in tuition every year…sixteen grand when her brother starts school. Choke. And the other option: (4) start working on the school now and get forms and opinions and lawyers and make the school nut-free and deal with all of the crap so Eva doesn’t have to worry about it. I just…I don’t see it happening.
But homeschooling would change everything. Absolutely everything. And all of those school plays and Valentine’s Day exchanges and games of freeze tag and class spelling bees…those all disappear from Eva’s future. They’re replaced by museum visits and workbooks at the dining room and endless hours of time with me. And I would always know what she was eating and touching and her medicine would be right there and I’d probably sleep a little better. A part of me feels like I should get excited about that. Instead, it makes me very sad. And very very very tired.
I only knew a couple of homeschooled kids and they were pretty weird. Anyone have a better experience?