As you get older, you begin to forget things.
As a new year arrives and my sixty second birthday starts to appear in sight down the road a few months and miles, my memory, thank the Lord and pass the ammunition, seems to be just fine.
Near as I can remember.
On the other hand, I find that, more and more often, I'm missing things.
It's happening right now, as a matter of fact.
Tell you what shortly.
(Yahoo News/Shine) It's hard to believe something as small as a peanut could cause so much controversy. But put it in a lunch bag and it can divide a school.
In Viola, Arkansas, a debate is heating up, after a student had his peanut butter and jelly sandwich confiscated at lunchtime. The school has a no-peanut-products policy due to a few students with allergies, so the teacher helped the little boy get a new lunch and sent home a note explaining the situation to his mom.
That note didn't go over well, apparently. Soon after the incident, a 'School Nut Ban Discussion' group was launched on Facebook by parents conflicted over the policy.
Some parents believe allergy-free students shouldn't have to cater to a few kids' health sensitivities, particularly if it means cutting out healthy or low-cost snacks packed in their own child's lunchbox.
The mom who packed the confiscated PB&J sandwich thinks kids with allergies should learn "how to manage the problem" rather than live inside a "bubble," according to a local news report.
Other parents of special needs kids feel like they're playing second fiddle to those with allergies.
"There are some autistic children that will only eat a PB&J sandwich or nothing at all," one parent opposing the ban argued on Facebook.
According to the Viola District Superintendent John May, this is the first push-back on a policy in place in his school for some time.
"The policy is in place to protect those with a severe, life threatening problem," May told Area Wide News, a Missouri-based news site. "Until we figure out something else, it would be foolish to drop the policy."
Over the span of a decade, reports of kids with peanut allergies have spiked by 18 percent, according to the CDC. Today, about 1 in 25 children suffer from the condition, and about 18 percent of them have had attacks in school. As a result, school-wide peanut bans have doubled in the past two years. But they haven't come without a fight.
One Connecticut mother of an allergic child was shocked by the hostility she was met with when proposing a peanut ban at her own kid's school. "People were extremely rude," she told the Associated Press. "They just thought it was a ridiculous request."
"Nobody wants to be a Peanut Allergy Mom," writes Mommyish blogger Gloria Fallon, whose son has severe life-threatening peanut allergies. "My main concern is my son's health, but I also don't want everyone to hate us. I actually am sorry for all the inconvenience having a PA kid creates. I know if my son didn't have food allergies, I'd probably think the kid who did was a pain in the a--. So I try to understand that for the most part, no one gets what we're going through."
Back in Viola, parents are looking for a compromise within the elementary school--hoping for a middle-ground approach some other institutions have taken. As opposed to banning nuts, some schools require all their teachers to be trained in using EpiPens, a life-saving device used in severe allergic attacks. Separating nut-eaters from non-nut-eaters in the lunchroom is another way to protect kids and raise awareness among students.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a nut allergy advocacy group, believes compromise is better for kids with allergies than an outright ban. "What we want is everyone always thinking there could be a possibility (of an allergic reaction) and be on guard for it," the group's founder, Anne Munoz-Furlong, told the Associated Press.
But with compromise comes with new problems. Isolating a child at a separate table because of his or her allergies can create social ostracism and lead to bullying. (The American Pediatrics Association even cautions parents and teachers about the risk of harassment kids with peanut allergies face.)
Sitting at a special nut-free table or being the subject of a health lesson in class may save a kid's life but it won't win him any popularity contests. Fallon says that every time she drops her allergic son Nick off at a party, she has to run through worst case scenarios and procedures with the person in charge. "This usually results in the person looking frightened and probably wishing they didn't invite Nick," she says. "Nobody likes the finale, me especially."
Okay, first, a couple of disclaimers.
I was a child in the 1950's and early 1960's when the primary threats to kids were golden oldies like getting hit by a car if we didn't look both ways, getting tetanus from the rusty nail we inadvertantly stepped on while playing until dark in an area we referred to then as "outside" and other minor, but inevitable, risks to life common in those days like polio, influenza and/or global thermonuclear war.
Of course, as for that last thing, our teachers lovingly and professionally prepared us for any possible pesky mushroom cloud by conscientiously drilling us in the life saving technique of ducking quickly under our high quality burnished plywood school desks.
And, admittedly, none of that training or drilling gave us any chance of survival should we be faced with what has, apparently, taken the place of the atomic blast in our worst fears and nightmares...
...the dreaded and much feared peanut.
On the other hand, I do recall that some of my peers, through the elementary years, were afflicted by one condition or special need or allergy or another, sometimes necessitating them using, for example, an inhaler.
Or maybe having to take one kind of pill or another at certain times of the day.
Or even, every now and then, providing them with official exemption from the required donning of traditional garb of school colored shorts and tee and lopingly run laps around the inside of the gym for forty five minutes every day between third and fifth period.
We referred to those classmates as "those lucky ducks".
Come to think of it, though, there were, very likely, some fellow academicians who probably brought special brown bags to the lunch table, filled with whatever their particular immune systems would allow them to ingest, compensating for their inability to partake of the undoubtedly nutritious, if gastronomically blase'. fare of shepherd's pie and/or that green Jello square that few actually ate, but many enjoyed watching wiggle.
And although not as great in number as they apparently are today, I imagine there might even have been a student or two lurking in our midst who were unable to partake of the peanut.
I don't, though, have any memory whatsoever, of any of those children finding themselves segregated from the general chow down population.
In my day, groups at cafeteria tables weren't determined by something as trivial as nutritional and/or medical need, they were established by a tried, true traditional value.
Cool kids here, jocks there and geeks and/or future software CEO's discreetly gathered in a cluster offering both intellectual sympatico and theoretical group support in the event of an assault by cool kids and/or jocks.
And in the course of twelve years of primary education, I never once witnessed the forcing of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on any one.
Which brings us to the very last days of the year 2012.
And this clearly dramatic concern that seems to have permeated the daily school routine.
The possibility that someone might tragically be harmed by the ingestion of a peanut.
Simply because there are peanuts within reach.
And the resulting need to brand, as contraband, peanuts along with weapons, porn and body parts found lying in that big field out behind the school.
Although, come on, we all know that bloody finger in the cotton lined box is just yours, painted with a little food coloring and stuck through that hole in the bottom of the box.
We're kids, for God's sake, we're not stupid.
Kidding aside, while the safety and welfare of our children is, has always been and should always be, of paramount importance, I'm having a little trouble connecting the dots here.
Let me run this past you and see if I've got it.
Because there are some kids in the school who are allergic to peanuts and who could be hurt or fatally harmed if they ingested peanuts, the school feels it necessary to prohibit non allergic kids from bringing a peanut butter sandwich to the school.
If I'm reading that correctly, then, the assumption is that if there is a peanut butter sandwich on the premesis, there is a statistical, and unacceptable, probability, that the allergy afflicted student will, upon sight of said peanut butter sandwich, throw themselves upon said sandwich, devouring same before any cooler heads can intervene, thereby resulting in the aforementioned hurt and or fatal harm to the allergy afflicted.
So, naturally, in order to prevent any possiblity of said allergy afflicted student initiating the aforementioned throwing of self on said sandwich, PB&J must join the list of items listed as not A-OK on campus.
I admit to being, despite my best efforts to stay hip and groovy, what AARP, and most casual observers, would classify as a senior citizen.
So there is the remote possibility that I am seeing all of this through un-hip, un-enlightened eyes.
But, and please be aware that I'm just throwing this out on the porch to see if the kitty will lick it up, here's a thought.
How about the allergic afflicted mom just tells the allergic afflicted kid not to eat peanuts.
Or peanut butter.
Or, what the hell, let's go all in, anything whose description includes, or even hints at, the word peanut.
Because, and again, please forgive if I'm old and, therefore, out of step, if we apply the peanut prohibition logic unilaterally, will we not find it necessary to prohibit pencils to prevent harm to those with lead allergies?
Or blackboard erasers to prevent harm to those with felt allergies?
And let's don't even get started on the fatal fungi living and growing in the aforementioned school colored shorts and tees that have been crammed up, all sweaty and unlaundered for weeks, in locker after locker after locker.
By the way, not for nothin', but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the delicious irony of a story as absurd as this one offering up mention of a "nut free table".
Clearly, when it comes to sitting down and creating rational, thoughtful school safety policies, there is no such thing.
At the outset, I shared that it is expected that, as one ages, they are more likely to forget things.
And that, at least, in my own case, it wasn't so much forgetting things as it was missing things.
An entire generation of school children are to be prohibited from eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunch time because there's a kid in the school who is allergic to peanuts.
Gotta tell you...
That's a solution I'm not likely to forget.
But, I'm definitely missing something.