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American Exceptionalism….

January 29, 2012

Recently, I was picking my kids up from the daycare center they attend part-time.  It is a laborious process that includes corralling two 3 year olds, which in itself can be as frustrating as getting cats to march in a parade, and collecting their belongings from various places in the classroom.  Included in these objects are their lunch boxes, which are stored in a large refrigerator in the corner of the room.  On this particular day, I couldn’t help but notice three or four notices on the refrigerator door.  Being that I am a nosy son-of-a-bitch with no capacity to mind his own business, I snuck a peek at one of them.   What I read went a little something like this:

“Dear classroom Teachers,

Please remember that little Johnny has food restrictions that prevent him from ingesting, or even being in proximity to, the following food items:  Peanuts, Soy, Gluten, white flour, Mustard, vanilla, sesame, latex, harsh words, or anything that would potentially damage his fragile self-esteem.”  (OK, I made the last two up, but you get the point.)

(Note:  I made up the name “Johnny”.  Not to protect the innocent, but rather because I have never bothered to learn the name(s) of a single classmate of my kids.  The teachers either, as a matter of fact.  Of course, I would be more inclined to converse with the staff at the daycare center if any of them actually, yannow, spoke English.)

The letter occurred to me to be so ludicrous that I took a minute to read the other notes posted on the refrigerator door, and wouldn’t you know it, each one read like the first.  Which left me with only one question in mind:

What the fuck is the matter with all of you?

Allow me to expound.  There are, maybe, twelve kids in the class, total.  So what that means is that about 33% of the children in the classroom supposedly suffer from severely debilitating, and numerous, food allergies.  And from what I have seen and heard in various experiences and conversations throughout the parenting world, the statistics gathered in this classroom are not far off from the country in general.  Meanwhile, a recent report released by the Jaffe Allergy Center at Mount Sinai, one of the worlds leading researchers on food allergies in both children and adults, showed that while over twenty percent of those studied claimed to have food allergies, only three percent actually did.  The rest?  At best exaggerating their symptoms.  At worst, flat-out lying.  Is this what we have come to?  Are we so desperate for our children to be “special” that in the absence of any outstanding positive achievements, we will substitute medical maladies?  Is this what “American Exceptionalism” has come to?

The term “American Exceptionalism” typically refers to the belief that we, as a nation, are most enlightened, creative, imaginative, resilient people in the world.  Well, clearly that ship sailed a few generations ago, so now we have looked to our children to be exceptional, probably to try to make up for the wasted generation their parents grew up in (Ours).  You know, a generation too busy watching “Jersey Shore” and Christmas shopping to actually do anything to positively change the world.  And if our children haven’t earned special attention for their achievements, we will make sure they get it for their health.  Want more proof that a vast majority of these claims are fabricated?  Ask yourself one question.  Where were all these food allergies when we were growing up?  I ate peanut butter sandwiches every day for my entire grammar school career, (Yeah, I was a fat kid)  and not once did the kid next to me hit the ground and swell up, nor did I ever hear of any cases of this anywhere else.  Now, apparently, if you as much as open a jar of Skippy in a high school auditorium, 300 kids will immediately hit the ground as if picked off by a sniper from the balcony.  And Gluten?  Five years ago, no one even knew what Gluten was, now half the world is suffering from Celiacs.  Gluten: The new scourge of children everywhere.

And this problem doesn’t just manifest in food allergies either.  Take the case of Jenny McCarthy.  This fucking idiot not only decided her son was autistic, but started a worldwide campaign against childhood vaccinations, based on the findings of one British doctor whose research has since been exposed as fraudulent, almost to the point of criminal.  McCarthy has gone on to scare thousands of parents into denying their children multiple vaccinations that have the ability to prevent life threatening diseases.  (Wanna see the number of childhood deaths that can be loosely attributed to this D-cup C word?  Check this out.)  And now, it turns out that her kid probably wasn’t even autistic in the first place.  This from a 2010 Time magazine article:

There are dark murmurings from scientists and doctors asking, Was {McCarthys’} son ever really autistic? Evan’s symptoms — heavy seizures, followed by marked improvement once the seizures were brought under control — are similar to those of Landau-Kleffner syndrome, a rare childhood neurological disorder that can also result in speech impairment and possible long-term neurological damage. Or, as other pediatricians have suggested, perhaps the miracle I have beheld is the quotidian miracle of childhood development: a delayed 2-year-old catching up by the time he is 7, a commonplace, routine occurrence, nothing more surprising than a short boy growing tall.

Possibly not even autistic, huh?  So now when we don’t want to acknowledge that our kids may be a little developmentally behind, we immediately assign it to what is almost becoming a trendy diagnosis.  Which should be enraging to any parent whose child really does suffer from this devastating affliction.  And how many millions of dollars have been diverted from real research that may lead to real answers to the puzzle that is Autism so that the claims of a former Playboy Playmate can be investigated?  A woman whose career peaked out twenty years ago as the host of “Singled Out”.  Well, at least fake Autism has gotten her name back out there, I guess.  Of course, anyone taking their parenting cues from Jenny McCarthy should immediately have their children removed from their homes.  So maybe losing a group of kids to the Measles whose parents were that fucking stupid will actually clean up the evolutionary gene pool for the rest of us.  A few less idiotic Walmart cashiers to contend with in the future.

Now, I know that there are examples of extreme food allergies and afflictions that are absolutely valid, and should be handled with the utmost of concern and care.  However, it is outlandish to me that entire schools, like the ones my kids attend, are declared “Peanut-free Zones”, just in case any one student has an allergy.  Meaning my kids are are denied a food product they enjoy because someone else cannot have it at all.  Now there’s a lesson in reality for your children.  “Don’t worry, Johnny.  If you can’t have bananas, I’ll make sure no one else can either, because you aren’t responsible for your own well-being.  The world will ALWAYS accommodate your specific needs.”  Is that how your world works?  It certainly isn’t how mine operates.  If you are unfortunate enough to be dealing with a child suffering from a chronic illness, particularly one that demands dietary restrictions, teach your child to deal with it.  I have enough anxiety raising my kids.  I don’t have any in reserve to make sure yours are being attended to.  Kids allergic to peanut butter?  OK, teach them to stay away from it.   But god forbid my kids walk into school with a goddamn peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The whole neghborhood goes into lock-down like they just walked in the building with a suitcase of enriched Uranium.  As a parent, it is your job to teach your kids how to make their own way in the world, not that the world is going to make way for them.  This is probably why we are raising a generation of spoiled, overly-entitled selfish assholes.

I am a Type I Diabetic, and have been for more than twenty years.  Additionally, one of my closest high school friends legitimately suffered from severe food allergies.  Never once, though, did we feel the need to dictate to our friends and classmates what they could and could not eat in our presence.  Why?  Because  we were lucky enough to be have parents that taught us to be accountable for our own well-being, rather than relying on everyone else to look out for us.  It’s not how the world works, and the sooner you teach your kids that the world doesn’t owe them anything, the better off they will be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure no one on my block is even THINKING of eating any chocolate or drinking a Mountain Dew…

  1. Jennifer permalink

    This is awesome! I have a kid with a peanut allergy but never once considered dictating what other kids in his class could eat. He can be around peanuts, but can’t eat or touch them. If his allergy was so bad that he couldn’t breathe around peanuts, I’d homeschool him, not force his classmates to bend to my will. I don’t want that much power. LOL

  2. Susan permalink

    Couldn’t agree more!

  3. This is brilliant. I’ve never been allergic to anything and always get so annoyed at people who claim to have tons of allergies (the Celiacs are today’s worst culprit.) I’ve also just had my first child and I hope to god she doesn’t have any allergies–I certainly wouldn’t make any up to make seem special. How pathetic if that’s what people are doing.

  4. This is brilliant! I’ve never had allergies and always thought people who claim to have tons have a touch of drama queen in them. (The Celiacs are today’s worst offenders.) I just had my first child and I hope to god she doesn’t have allergies, and I certainly wouldn’t make them up! That would be pathetic if that’s the only way I can make my child special.

    • My kids seem to have a slight allergy to tomatoes sauce. The first time they had it, their cheeks turned red. We kept an eye on it, even gave them a bath, and it went away a few minutes later without a problem. What we DIDN’T do was panic and decide that they both had a severe allergy and decide they could never eat red vegetables again, which is what some parents are doing now, it would seem…Congratulations on your first. Strap in…

      • Keelea Chartrand permalink

        You would panic… you would. If you watched someone that you love and you care about, like your child or your wife or your mother or your sister or your brother or your dad or your grandparents whoever the fuck that happens to be… you would panic if you watched them be around something as small as a single DUST of peanut or gluten or dairy or soy or whatever it happened to be that they were allergic to (I’ve heard cases of paprika or cinnamon that can trigger an allergic reaction) and that single small DUST of whatever it happened to be sent their entire body into hives, swelled their tongue so badly it blocked their airway in the mouth, restricted their throat and after about 2 minutes of this, if they did not receive any sort of medical intervention… they would be hospitalized and put on life support because they would be nearly dead and in extreme cases if they couldn’t reach an ambulance or a doctor or a hospital or anything, they would die and there is absolutely nothing you can do about this. NOTHING. Do you watch your children when they play by a road? Do you make sure that they don’t get hit by traffic? Do you hope that some day a kid isn’t going to walk into your child’s middle school classroom and shoot the whole place up, including your child? According to you, it sounds like probably not… but I think for many parents they do. And with parents who have children with food allergies, it’s even worse, because there are dumbasses in this world like you and others on this page commenting who think “Hey it’s not a big deal, whatever, they are lying about it”. My sister has SEVERE peanut allergies amongst her many other food allergies like garlic, celery, watermelon, apples, strawberries, and walnuts. She is in the top 2% of severe food allergies in the country. A single trace of oil or dust or sometimes even the smell of peanuts or peanut butter or Snickers bar or Reeses Peanut Butter cup or peanut crackers or pie baked with peanuts can trigger an anaphylaxis reaction and without Claritin, Benadryl, an Epi-Pen, an inhaler, and a trip to the Emergency Room where she is given more Benadryl, Claritin, possibly Epinephrine if she has a secondary reaction, and steroids like Prednisone. After 5 hours of laying in a hospital bed and losing hours at work or school she is able to go home where she will spend the rest of the day sleeping because all the drugs she has been given deplete her system and make her very drowsy. What a life to live. And this, this happens every time someone is around her with peanuts who “Forgot” or “Didn’t think it was a big deal” or “Thought she was lying”. It is an awful AWFUL thing to live with and I don’t know who in their right mind would lie about it and who in their logical mind would WANT to live with something like this. It’s terrifying. It’s life-threatening. It’s annoying when other people don’t care and don’t get it. It can kill her. She could be dead at any moment just like so many other people living with severe food allergies and instead of being sympathized with or taken care of or taken into consideration they are treated as a burden, as a hassle to society, as fakers or liars, they are discriminated against, they are pushed aside and left to just deal with it for themselves. You remark on American Exceptionalism as being a forgotten ideal with all the Snookies and JWowws and Allergic Liars… I think American Exceptionalism is perhaps a forgotten ideal when this is the society we live in where people just simply don’t give a shit about their neighbor and their neighbor’s food allergies and the harm they are doing every time they open a bag of peanuts near them. Educate yourself just a little bit more before you start accusing people of being liars. Why don’t you talk to those parents of those children, you’ll know, you will know instantly if they are lying or not. Don’t be a son of a bitch who sits around ignorant and stupid on a blog site… get into the real world and discover real people living with real problems. Or not and face a civil suit at some point because you nearly killed a child with your peanut butter sandwiches.

      • OK. I gotta be honest. I really don’t give a fuck about your sister, or you. In fact, I got so bored reading your comment I started lazily skimming through it. You must be new here, or this would not be news to you.
        YOur sister is your problem, not mine. And not my kids. Now, if I saw her laying on the street blowing up like Violet Beuragard, I’m pretty sure I would call 911 (Assuming it wasnt my turn in a Words With Friends Game.), but I am not about to monitor everything I and my children eat becasue of the shortcomings of your feeble sister. Put her in a bubble. Stop making it everyone elses problem.
        You are exactly the selfish twat this post is talking about. THe fact that you think a guy opening a bag of peanuts is an aggregious act tells me all I need, or care, to know about you.
        Be happy I am not teaching my kids fire mini peanut butter cups down the throats of random strangers. Other than that, I don’t owe you, or your fragile sister anything.
        Now beat it. Hey at least I saved you the time it takes to read anymore of my stupid blog. You are welcome. And the idea of me being sued for eating peanut butter? Mensa isnt knocking down your door, huh?

      • Keelea Chartrand permalink

        I’m sure you don’t care. I’m sure you don’t care about your own children either because, like you said, it would be their problem, not yours, if they happened to develop an allergy. In fact, if they did happen to develop an allergy they would probably be lying about it so that they could get more of their selfish father’s attention… perhaps they would tell you that their throats were closing so that they could take you away from your blog site and focus your attention on them… but you’re absolutely right that is each individual’s problem and no one else’s. It’s our problem if we can’t afford our medical bills because we visit the ER each week because of other people’s choice to eat peanuts. And it’s our problem if we lose a family member because you and your family have chosen to shoot peanut butter cups down their throats. It’s your problem if someone runs your child over accidentally or pulls a gun in their school or breaks into your home and kills them. That’s your problem that no one else should care about, right? Right. Thank you for clarifying that to the rest of the world that we shouldn’t care about anyone else except for ourselves. That’s actually very insightful and exactly how our world works. So the woman who is a teacher on here, she should probably stop being a teacher because that involves her caring about someone other than herself. And for you as a parent you should probably stop parenting because that involves caring about someone other then yourself. Perhaps we should all just live in selfish bubbles to avoid caring or worrying about anyone else and the life that they have.

      • Right. Everything you said is right. You get me.
        And if your sister is in the ER weekly because other people commit the mortal sin of eating peanuts, maybe it’s time to let Darwinism go Head and take over.
        And I would gladly stop parenting, but they live with me and they are just so fucking needy. God, “I’m hungry” “I have to go to the bathroom” “Jerry Sandusky wants to know if he can give me a sponge bath”, it never ends. And when I ignore them they just fucking whine incessantly about it. I can’t wait till they discover smoking pot so I can just give them a spoon, a jar of peanut butter and the remote control. Then I can finally devote all my time to my stupid blog without the constant fucking interruption. Of course if your sisters around, I guess they’ll have to satisfy their munchies with something she’s not allergic too, which apparently limits their options to like, I dunno, tofu.
        And you know what really should bother you? That I’m the insensitive fuckhead who doesn’t care whether your sister lives or dies, and my kids are gonna be JUST FINE. So much for karma…

  5. Jillgeorge permalink

    I agree with almost everything you all have said. As a special educator I see the disruption caused by parents insisting on entire classrooms cater to these ridiculous “allergies.”. However, we need to make a distinction between all of the “gluten-allergy” crap and the people who truly have celiac disease. True celiac disease, though extremely rare, is a really life threatening condition. Although even this does not require an entire classroom, much less an entire school, to be gluten-free. Just the student’s individual lunchbox. I love this blog arrogant sob….sorry I didn’t discover you sooner!

    • Thanks for your thoughts. And it’s not the severity of Celiacs I am skeptical about, it’s the sudden epidemic of it that I find intriguing. And don’t worry about not discovering us sooner, since we are only about two months old. You havent missed much, and you can certainly read everything to date and catch up. Thanks for coming by…

  6. baby-paramedic permalink

    As a person who does have legitimate severe allergies (have been admitted to ICU sort of ones!) – I think the banning substances in the classroom is borderline ridiculous. (I do have two severe allergies that are the sort that stops me from breathing if I inhale it. Guess what? I take preventative medication, and where-ever possible remove myself from contaminated areas. I do not jump up and down and demand the substances be banned).
    If my 18mth old niece can be taught what foods she can and cannot have (I saw before my very eyes her swell up after someone who had eaten oysters 45mins earlier picked her up and hugged her. So, a severe allergy all right!), and to always get an adult to check, why cannot other developmentally normal children?

    These children will become adults. They will become like me having to navigate parties and dinner seeking out allergens and avoiding them (two common additions to food – one stops me breathing, the other keeps me attached to the toilet for a few hours. I have had these reactions even when I didn’t know the ingredients had been there). Time to start learning.

    • Dead on. As I said in the post, I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was little and I had to learn from that early age the severe implications involved with the food I eat and the drinks I drink. It’s my obstacle, and my parents and I never expected anyone else to help me overcome it. It’s about personal responsibility and accountability…

  7. Lauren permalink

    Well said! I’m so thankful my daughter’s preschool didn’t succomb to the nonsense of being “peanut-free.” That’s the only kind of sandwhich she’ll eat right now. As you know (I’m sure)… getting a three year old to eat can sometimes be a challenge. I’m certainly not up for denying some of her favorite foods because someone else’s child can’t keep their hands off. We picnic often with a friend whose child has severe allergies to egg and peanut butter (he swells and stops breathing). From about 18 months on he knew to only touch his own food and never anyone else’s. That’s called parenting.

  8. Lauren permalink

    By the way, just found you the other day through PIWTPITT and have spent many hours (at work, oops!) catching up. Love your stuff!!

    • Thanks. If you get caught and lose your job, let me know I’ll have my wife clean out the extra bedroom. Though thats where my dog sleeps, so you’d have to fight her for control of the blanket…

  9. LuLu permalink

    The vaccination issue drive me insane. There is NO reason for a child to get a disease that could be eradicated with immunizations. The amount of people who take stock in what someone with no medical background says amazes me.
    Found you through PIWTPITT and SO glad I did! Now I will be neglecting other duties to catch up on here, thanks a lot!

  10. KLP permalink

    I am astounded at how stupid people can be about allergies and vaccines. I think one of the problems is the generation (or two) who were brought up as ‘spoiled overly entitled selfish a-holes’ are now parents themselves. The most amazing advances in medicine EVER would have to include the complete eradication of diseases that were once consided a death warrant. Where are all these researchers and doctors that are ‘intentionally’ harming our kids with secret autism laden evil vaccines? Isn’t that what Jenny McCarthy was flat out accusing the the medical community of? And how stupid is Oprah for letting her sit there on her show and go on and on about it? Come on people!
    And if somehow your child does get something like Autism from a vaccine(which is completely preposterous) isn’t that better than a DEAD kid??
    I also believe that these same stupid parents are getting too much MIS information from unreliable internet sources. I was blown away by the amount of misinformation available when I was casually reading through an app designed to help you keep track of your pregnancy(I have 4 kids, my youngest is 2 months old). Women were actually encouraging other women to brew coffee, put it in a bowl, set it in their toliet and sit over it to induce labor. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
    The allergy thing is real for some, my husband had Celiacs disease as a toddler and he was very sick, but he grew out of it.
    I appreciate the idea of teaching your children to take responsibility for themselves. I work toward that goal for my kids everyday! Thanks for the post, you are preaching to the choir here!

  11. jillgeorge permalink

    Since I last left a comment I have to add that, again, as a special ed Social Worker I developed a cooking curriculum several years ago that actually worked MAGIC with otherwise unreachable kids…teaching social skills, math, science, and literacy..It was incredible and I could tell you stories of deeply involved (autistic, cognitive delayed) kids becoming engaged and available for learning because of cooking! Well…guess what? I was told last year that cooking was no longer allowed at all in my eight classrooms because of “food allergies.” So the implications of this garbage extend into the opportunities for kid’s development. I would love to hear your comments about how the fear of liability and fear of lawyers have impacted every single area of our lives, especially education….makes my head explode just thinking about it….everything I do now (not just fear of “allergic”reactions) is impacted by fear of liability and I can barely make a move anymore or do what I love…..

    • It’s funny. You can take any profession and see how it impacts and is vital to society. No matter how menial and seemingly unimportant a job is it has some measure of importance in regards to serving the basic needs of humanity. Any profession except lawyers. They produce nothing. THey manufacture nothing. They are not creative. They are not inventive. If you eliminated lawyers today, it would not effect the proliferation of the human race even a little. Their sole purpose in life is to create money for themselves.

      • jillgeorge permalink

        Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer about this….but it really hits so close to home for me. Please go back to being hysterical…you are awesome and it helps so much to read your take on this craziness.

      • We’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming in a day or two. Not sure how we are back to commenting on a six month old post, but whatever. Truth be told, I had to reread it before responding to numb nutz up there because I couldn’t really remember the details of the post…

      • jillgeorge permalink

        I know..for some reason I just got emailed an update yesterday and I responded before I realized how old it your work….

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