Sit Down. We need to talk.

An open letter to the astonished, indignant, and unreasonably angry folks who cannot understand the allergy parent backlash against Peter Rabbit (may contain adult language–get over it):

“Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.”

So begins this informational article about food allergies on the FARE website.




So, listen. I get that you don’t get why people are mad about Peter Rabbit. I get that you don’t have to worry about food allergies. Every three minutes, that’s someone else’s kid in the ER. Every three minutes, that’s not your problem. Every three minutes, not your cross to bear, right?

Fine. Then go about your day. Don’t be mad about Peter Rabbit. Go see it. (Or better yet, don’t, since you probably weren’t planning to anyway, were you?) I mean, who cares anyway, right? It’s just a kids’ movie. It’s just silly. It’s not hurting anyone.

Sure, it’s not. But when three weeks ago a trio of high school girls intentionally exposed a classmate to her allergen through a pineapple tainted high five, an attorney “liken[ed] it to a prank and a prank does not rise to the level of intentionally harming somebody where they can die.” Except that it was intentional. And she was harmed. And she could have died.

Could have died like thirteen year-old Karan Cheema, who did die from a similar “prank,” but not before spending the last twelve days of his young life in intensive care because another child knowingly flicked a piece of cheese into his mouth.

And these cases are not unique.

See, Peter Rabbit tossing Farmer McGregor’s allergen at him might seem harmless to you, but that’s exactly the problem. I know that you don’t know the truth. I know that you aren’t going to talk to your kids after the movie about how Farmer McGregor’s EpiPen saved him, but it doesn’t always work like that in real life. I know that you don’t question whether the broad lesson about Peter’s behavior will be enough, that it’s not your burden to question whether the film did enough to show that this type of exploitation of a person’s disability is not just naughty but is dangerous, evil, and potentially deadly. I know that you don’t wonder if just one shitty little kid will see the movie and get the cruel seed of an idea planted in his head, and if that one shitty little kid will be in your daughter’s class one day, and if that cruel seed will sprout the black tree from which your sweet baby will hang.

But I. Fucking. Do.

Pictured: Not a complete list of my child’s allergies

Let me give you a hint about anaphylaxis, for the uninitiated: It’s not fucking slapstick. It’s not whoopie pies and seltzer bottles, oversized mallets and exploding cigars. It’s sudden, and it’s unexpected, and it’s life or death. It’s your baby turning blue and becoming unresponsive. It’s ambulance rides and emergency room visits. And sometimes, it’s your baby’s funeral–oh, but not your baby’s, right? So what’s the big deal, yeah?

Here’s the thing I’m getting at, boss–since I’m sure I have to spell it out for you: you don’t get to tell those of us who carry the cross of food allergies that we’re overreacting. You don’t get to call us snowflakes or bleeding hearts or be pissed off that we’re “offended.” Until you have held your baby in your hands and watched her eyes flutter closed while you hope with every piece of you that the EpiPen you’ve never used before does its job, that the ambulance comes quick enough, that the reaction doesn’t get any worse, you don’t get to be the arbiter of my outrage. Until you have spent hours on the phone with food manufacturers trying to find out if the food you are giving to your child might contain accidental traces of things that will kill her, until you have lived with the secret knowledge that every public place you take her is more than likely–no, absolutely guaranteed to be–smeared at every turn with the invisible poisons that her body cannot bear to touch but that are the literal bread and butter of every other child, you don’t get to tell my wife she is being ridiculous.

And until you have clicked every link in this blog and read every story and attempted to understand the crushing weight of the fear food allergies hang over every day of our lives, you can kindly stick your opinion in the same dark hole where you’re keeping your head.

Because here’s the real kicker, friend. I’m not offended. I’m not clutching my pearls and gasping in mock horror that those folks at Sony Pictures could be so politically incorrect, as you would have it. I’m fucking terrified. Because–you clicked those links, right? and read those articles, right?–none of the stories I have posted or any of the others I have ever read about kids dying from food allergies has been about parents who were unprepared or uninformed or neglectful. The only mistakes the parents in these stories ever made were in trusting other people–school administrators, allergy doctors, and even just people like you, Jack–to understand and accommodate their children’s life-threatening disabilities. And you know what you’re doing, right? You’re encouraging those people that we often have no choice but to trust, those people we and our children have to share public spaces with, to downplay and disregard our well-founded and not at all unreasonable concern for the health and safety of our children.

But really, go about your life. Go see your bunny movie, and order a large popcorn since you don’t have to worry about what kind of oil it was cooked in, or whether the teenager behind the counter handled the kernels with unwashed hands after serving up some cheesy nachos. Enjoy it. I don’t begrudge you your ability to do that, and I certainly don’t need you to carry this burden for me. My shoulders are plenty broad and my legs plenty strong. I’m sure as shit not asking for your help, modern-day hero that you so clearly are.

But buddy, I will be thrice-damned before I let you shame me for not allowing ignorant and insensitive people to make a joke of my precious baby’s life.


66 thoughts on “Sit Down. We need to talk.

Add yours

  1. Wonderful article! Hope people who don’t understand food allergies will read. I’ve been through it and it’s no fun. Thank you for taking time to educate! I wrote a little book, I Too Allergic: Joshua’s Story to tell how my grandson as a toddler learned about his allergies and how to self-advocate. It’s available on Amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen and yes and amen again. Well said, and thank you for saying it. I hope all the people leaving nasty comments all over the internet read this. I don’t know if it’ll make them have a change of heart; some people were just born to be nasty and stay nasty no matter what. But keep shouting the truth anyway, for your kids and mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TY I had a ANA shock in jan and the ER dept did not take it so serious and then the NP had no sympathy or clue of the biphasic after shock,, after me sitting in the waiting room a for 3 hours turning colors, not able to move hardly or hard to breath.. My allergist was hopping mad at the incident

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yesssss! I couldnt have said it better. Thank you for sharing this. As I will be sharing as well. Your daughter is beautiful and lucky to have you as you are to her. Very well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are my thoughts in writing!! Thank you for putting them out there in the world. I am a mother of a 4 year old who has an airborne peanut allergy and soy allergy. I am also a registered nurse. It infuriates me that there are people that dont get it. My daughter had a near death anaphylatic reaction at 14 months old after her father kissed her after eating a peanut butter sandwich. We have never been the same. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You reached this Mama, who doesn’t have food allergies to worry about in her little guy, that we know of. Raising awareness, you’re doing it right, sir! I COMMEND YOU. In the day and age we live in, everyone is so concerned with being “politically correct,” life or death situations are often looked over, mocked even, making it an almost acceptable realm, to the easily persuaded an uneducated. Just as your sweet one will navigate thru the torrential waters of Food Allergies, my son deals with having a very rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Raising awareness for acceptance and keeping him safe from MANY factors, is detrimental to his being!
    I will be sharing the hell out of this. My mind was in limbo of seeing this movie. Now it’s completely made up and the answer is a HELL no.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truly, I’m not even mad about the movie. I doubt I’ll see it, but that doesn’t make it any different from any other movie since Conan the Barbarian came out in 2011. I think it was stupid and tone-deaf for the filmmakers to include the scene, but I don’t expect much from filmmakers (unless they’re making Conan movies). It was the people ardently defending that bad decision by belittling the concerns of allergy parents that set me off. People are so eager to write off every complaint as “the PC police” or “liberal snowflakes” or whatever that they make meaningful conversations about decency, empathy, and responsibility seem impossible.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well said. Thank you!

    I agree. We don’t need to convince haters. We need to hear the haters & realize these are the people our kids will sometimes encounter.

    Thank you for speaking out honestly & boldly!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. While I am sensitive to your plight, and have first hand knowledge of EXACTLY what you describe, there comes a point where personal accountability and self preservation has to kick in. Why in the world to you believe that it is every one else’s responsibility to cater to the needs of the afflicted minority? You’re a teacher (which I applaud and cannot tell you how much I wish you were paid quadruple what you bring home). Is part of your curriculum to educate the masses about every disability, disease, affliction, sensitivity, mental illness, etc. that exists? I think not. So quit your bitching about everyone having to read everything you mention in order to understand your plight.
    I truly believe that it absolutely sucks that your precious daughter will spend her entire life with this terrible burden, along with many others like us, but yes, you ARE asking for help. You are asking the rest of the population to cater to the needs of your daughter when your tough-guy self isn’t able to be there to protect her. Make no mistake, I put my life in harms way more often than I care to admit to protect complete strangers. I just hope that there are others that are there to help my family if I am not there to do so. You can only hope for the same, and taking the aggressive stance you present is not the way to encourage others to help their fellow man.
    So I am begging you to redirect your rage. I get it, I really do, but take that energy you have and focus it on arming your daughter with the tools and skills she will need in the future to self-rescue. She WILL need these skills and as the amazing father I know you hope to be, it is YOUR responsibility to arm her with all the knowledge and skills she can stand.


    1. Man, I feel like you’ve got this thing you do, this whole, “Quit bitching and take responsibility for yourself” trip (and I dig that, by the way; that’s very much the philosophy in my family and my wife’s), and you just kinda hop around the Internet making everything you read about that, even if it’s really not about that.

      This article is directed at people who want to call names and roll eyes at allergy parents when they don’t understand what we go through, who want to act like their way of life is under fire because allergy parents criticized an irresponsible scene in a movie they have no stock in and probably didn’t even know existed until they read about people’s complaints. Asking people not to attack parents who are concerned for their kids’ lives is absolutely not asking for their help. Nowhere in my post did I say that anyone else had any responsibility to me or my child, and if you can find where I did I will delete the whole thing and buy you a solid gold magnifying glass for being a super sleuth.

      I never once asked anyone to wash their hands, wipe their tables, or not bring milk or peanuts into public spaces. I never asked anyone to learn how to administer an EpiPen or spot an anaphylactic reaction. I never asked anyone to lift a finger for me. I only suggested, in my way, that they make a choice to either be informed or be silent. And truth be told, I wasn’t even asking for that so much, just trying to let the folks who choose to be neither informed nor silent know that their opinions in this matter mean exactly fuck-all. I know it hurts that type when they don’t get to pretend to be the authority, but don’t you think as a service to them that we ought to let them know?

      No, my curriculum doesn’t require me to teach about any disability or disease, but it does require me to teach students to make informed, evidence-backed arguments. Not far off from what I’ve done in this blog. And as a conscientious human being, I have always striven to encourage empathy. No conversation has ever been made less productive by the participants attempting to understand one another.

      To spell it out one more time, the only people I’m asking to think about my plight are the ones who are determined to make themselves part of the Peter Rabbit conversation despite their near-total ignorance on the subject of food allergies. I never said you have to know, just that you can’t remain willfully ignorant and then pretend that you do know. I mean, you can, but you’ll be an asshole.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The authors words are not at all misplaced anger. Clearly you haven’t seen the responses by the general public. Seeing the words “cater to minority ” in this case is every bit as insensitive as saying wheel chair ramps are ridiculous because they “cater to that minority” except ya know…food allergies kill and lack of ramps do not.


  9. Thank you so much for expressing what we have been feeling. God bless you. We have a peanut and tree nut allergic 3 year old. Every day every outing is a blessing we can come back home.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I could not have said this better, They don’t know what it is like to see the fear in their child’s eyes or the tears when they can’t do something that their siblings can do. My son has dealt with this his whole life, has never known a life without allergies. So Thank you. We are not asking for THESE peoples pity or anything else, I just don’t want you to KILL my son.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a great post and I love the points you bring up. Just wish you’d remove one word. I am Native and that one word you used hit me at my core and nagged at me throughout. Esp since in context it’s meant as a slur. 😔
    The rest of the post had me jumping up and exclaiming “Yes!!’ and ‘Speak!!!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right, and I didn’t even think of it. In Jersey and New York, chief gets thrown around as a variant of “boss” or that sort of thing, and I honestly never connected that use to the Native context–I always heard it more like police chief or fire chief. Thank you for reading and responding. Out of respect, I will edit that word, but please understand that it was not meant to carry that connotation.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I get your arguments and am honestly on your side, but I’ll let you keep the gold Sherlock paraphernalia even though the whole blog was a cry for help – and quite based I’ll have to add. You proudly stand with your tough guy image and present the fight, but we all know there is a soft underbelly that would take the life of every MF’er at the last supper if it meant you could improve your daughter’s situation. Unfortunately, it is out of you, any my, control. Find peace brother, and protect those beautiful children by giving them the knowledge and skills they need for this hostile world.


    1. If you’re on facebook, please find and read my most recent post there. Truth is the tough-guy tone of this article almost kept me from posting this blog at all, but it seemed honest and at least a little bit funny. I’d also humbly recommend that you read some of my other blog articles; you might be surprised.

      Still, I take umbrage at the idea that it’s a cry for help. An expression of frustration, yes; a call for understanding and empathy, sure; but help? I’ve got mine, brother.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to stretch the conversation. All sass aside, it is appreciated. Be well.


  13. Perfect, Dad and so important! You have helped educate many uncaring idiots about the seriousness of food allergies. Your writing will be shared repeatedly and discussed in many families. You, sir, have made a difference.
    All the best.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Friends of mine have children who have food allergies and through them I have educated myself and my kids on food allergies and that you can never be too careful when it comes to your kids/friends/colleagues health. Some people are just way too flippant when a subject doesn’t directly affect them. Best wishes x

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Someone put an open milk carton in my severely dairy allergic 10th grader’s backpack at school last year. He often gets taunted about his allergies. Kids on the bus and in the cafeteria have thrown things like cheez its at him, hidden his lunchbox, or threatened to touch him with cheese. Yeah… real funny.


  16. Thank you so much! From an allergy kid’s mom who hasn’t had to epi…. Yet.

    It scares me to read the comments from so much of the non allergy world publicly posted about this movie…my daughter has to grow up and walk that world without me one day and it’s so impossible to trust her to this public…


  17. As someone with mild allergies, I tend to forget just how much those same allergies can affect others. The problem with humans in general, I think, is that we liken others experiences to our own, even when it isn`t actually a good comparison. So thank you for the reminder about just how serious this issue is.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We have an allergy child, by some stroke of fortune not anaphylactic. The worry of sending him off into the world everyday is significant. I so frequently think of the parents of anaphylactic kids. You guys are heroes. It must be terrifying every minute of every day relying on someone else not to be a stupid ass and hurt your kid. Yet, you give your kids wings and you do it. Heroes.

    We are out here watching out for you! Watching out for your kid. Keeping the ignorant, the careless, the selfish at bay as best we can. Trying to be your hero sidekicks as best we can.

    What you wrote, mattered. What you wrote, will be heard. What you wrote, will be shared, and read, and will help to protect your kid, and mine, and many others.

    Keep being a hero xx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well said!!! Unfortunately we saw the movie before knowing about the scene. So we took it as a way of opening up the conversation of kids potentially trying to hurt you on purpose. Because with all the conversations we have had I don’t remember touching that subject. The subject on how sometimes ppl can be so cruel to wanting to use your allergen to hurt you. I obviously didn’t care for the scene and wish they would have done with out or differently but it definitely open the doors for more conversations especially after having our first big reaction to possible cross contamination. I share all about in the Blog.
    People need to be more educated in this subject and need to talk to there kids as well.
    Well done friend! Great post!!
    Side note. She’s adorable. May go down bless her alway. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sooo appreciate you articulating the thoughts and emotions we food allergy parents endure. This is so spot on and I hope hope hope it goes viral and picked up by all sorts of media.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you. This is me, everyday. My son tells me his nut-free lunch table is “calm and quiet” but sometimes very lonely. It breaks my heart, and makes me fear for his future, when some kid decides it would be funny to tease him. I try to build resilience in him, and see that he stands up for himself and his friends, hopefully building a community around him. But yeah, there is sooo much ignorance that we have to address. So many people who think it’s no big deal. I wish I could have everyone read this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I truly believe that most people are good and supportive, but often not until they’ve seen the truth of a problem first hand. Is your son allowed to bring a friend to the nut-free table? I wonder how many of his friends would be willing to give up nuts at school and sit with him if the school allowed it.


  22. daddy don’t blog please go onto a site called shared and read the disgusting things parents have to say . Is there any way you could get this article shared that they could read it . Thankyou


  23. Well said. I worked in pupil personnel in NYC Public Schools for 24 years. I have seen the damage students can inflict upon each other. I am concerned that students will copy the modus operandi and wreck havoc with and possibly terminate others’ lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I don’t have any kids yet, and I am not close with anyone who has a food allergy. I enjoyed your article, and I have a true and recent story for you:
    A business meeting with a group of about 25-30 coworkers was recently hosted at a local restaurant. Before being seated, I saw a recovering alcoholic politely decline when offered a drink, then saw the wife of the man who had invited him to the bar elbow him and whisper to him (telling him, I’m sure, what a heel he was for offering alcohol to someone who can’t have it, but it’s his wife’s workmate, not his, so he probably would not have known).
    My best workmate, who is vegan, ordered a dish with crispy tofu, which opened up a conversation with those near us (the rest of us eat/wear/consume animal products) about how good crispy tofu is if you have only had regular tofu. Nobody accused my friend of being a “politically correct snowflake” because of her lifestyle choice, and she didn’t criticize anyone else for not sharing her opinion. The subject of her veganism was simply not the issue at hand.
    Another workmate, when hearing that the person next to her was ordering something with peanut sauce, asked to trade seats with someone at another table. This was met with several people at all 4 tables rolling their eyes, exchanging “looks” and one person reluctantly and dramatically (swooping her coat off of the chair, pretending her purse weighed a ton when picking it up to move, etc) trading spots with the peanut-allergy person, who then spent the rest of the evening involved in very few conversations at the new table and was generally made to feel like an inconvenience to all.
    Towards the end of the meal, our boss’s wife came around with a tray of cream-cheese containing desserts and I said, “no thanks,” and then my well-meaning friend (the vegan) said, “She’s lactose intolerant, that makes her sick.” (I don’t really make a big deal of it, but she and I have been to each other’s houses for dinner a lot so I had told her a long time ago.) Then several of the people at our table, and the one next to it started apologizing for all the times they had offered or brought dairy containing treats to share at work, and telling me how sorry they were that I couldn’t enjoy things like cheese or ice cream. I laughed and felt embarrassed, but I said, “It’s really not a big deal. We’re talking about a food group that sends me to the bathroom, not the emergency room!” and thankfully the subject was laughed off and dropped.
    The irony of that night was not lost, but has silently napped in the back of my mind until I read your post here. Why was I the only person whose “difference” was met with empathy? Alcoholism was clandestinely whispered about. Veganism (the only one that was a conscious choice, and therefore seemingly “most vulnerable to social attack” position there) was respected without being made into an issue, which I think is honestly how everyone would prefer to be treated about any kind of special needs. A true food allergy with possibly life-threatening consequences was passive-aggressively mocked and bullied. Lactose intolerance (basically indigestion) was treated as though my life is somehow impacted in a way that should elicit sensitivity and empathy from others.
    Some of it probably has to do with personality differences and just how well-liked each person is by the group. The peanut-allergy person can be kind of a downer and she calls in sick a lot. My vegan friend and I are both funny, friendly, and motivating to others at work, so maybe our differences are accepted because we are accepted. When I asked the mate who traded chairs why she thought everyone reacted the way they did, and why she even traded chairs if she really didn’t want to, she said, “Well she’s always talking about it, every time anyone offers her any food, she asks if there are peanuts. I brought meatballs in a crock-pot before and she asked if there were peanuts in it. You and (vegan) don’t go around asking what’s in stuff all the time, you just don’t eat it if you’re not sure. I only traded her because I knew nobody else at my table would, and it would have made all of us look like bad workmates if she’d had to go asking two tables away.” I said, “Yeah, but what if you had fried the meatballs in peanut oil or something? Like, it’s pretty easy for me. If it looks creamy I just don’t eat it. I don’t have to tell anybody why, and if I get hit across the stomach with the invisible baseball bat later, I find out something must have contained dairy and the rest of the day is going to feel a little yucky and involve a few more bathroom trips than I wanted. That’s not the same as (peanut-allergy)’s problem. She has to ask that question because she can’t tell by looking at something and it’s not going to be okay if she messes up; she could die.” And no joke, that workmate said, “Well now you’re just defending her for being so dramatic, just because everyone knows you’re lactose-intolerant now I hope you’re not going to start acting like her about it!”
    So yeah. I think there’s a lot of ignorance. I appreciate that you’re making a difference, and I think it’s going to take a long time, and there are going to be some people who will literally never get it because they will never have to. For those of us who don’t have this problem, but still realize what a blessing it is that we don’t have to be on the receiving end of all of those comments, looks, and attitudes, please know that we are thankful for that blessing, and we do send empathy and sensitivity to those of you whose lives were chosen to have more difficult days in them.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I truly understand I am an adult and severely allergic to tree nuts and shellfish I have had many restrictions throughout this life of fear I no longer trust anyone wanting to place my life in jeopardy because they don’t understand I just have to smell it in a room weather it’s in a bag or container it is still DEADLY I have gone to a bank and the teller is eating trail mix full anaphylactic shock and she says “oh well you have EPI-Pens little does she realize it’s a full blown mess for twenty four hours and life threatening I can’t stand the arrogant people that don’t see the dangerous affects they think I am crazy and over reacting I CAN ONLY WISH THE WORLD WOULD TAKE IT SERIOUSLY BLESS YOU FOR PUTTING YOUR THOUGHTS INTO THIS TRUTH ABOUT THE MOVIE AND WHAT THEY CALL A PRANK!! LETS HOPE ALL PARENTS CAN TEACH THEIR CHILDREN THE WAY TO RESPECT OTHERS AND THAT THIS IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER!!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I do think that everyone needs to be better educated about the high risk of food allergies and that for whatever reason they are more prevalent today than in the past. I was recently on an airline that usually gives out peanuts and pretzels and in this instance they were only giving pretzels (I have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten) I asked for peanuts and the steward explained it was due to an allergy, as it happened the child was next to me. Many people bring their own snacks (which I usually do and often it is nuts) so I was surprised that an announcement wasn’t made to make people aware of this potential hazard. Its like war its alright with most people as long as their kid isn’t on the front line.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. My son, almost 17, has severe dairy and peanut allergies. I actually performed CPR on him when he was 10nmonths old twice, 2 weeks apart. This is before we knew of his allergies and to this day do not know for sure what made him quit breathing. But it is a FACT until you have lived that nightmare of raising a child with food allergies, you have no right what so ever to belittle the parents or child! The fact that any day, any second, my phone could ring and the person on the other end is telling me my son is in anaphylactic shock or worse, is a nightmare I habe to live evry single day; because of the morons in the world who just dont get it or care to get it!! So thank you for your blog and for apeaking up!!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. See, this is why I worry so much about beloved children’s books being made into movies (says the EpiPen-toting, multiple anaphylactic food allergen suffering, children’s librarian). 🙂

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s an incredibly frustrating problem, as so many of you know. I have five foods that cause an anaphylactic reaction for me. A couple of them are “easy.” There either is or isn’t eggplant or tomatillos in something. Bell peppers are also somewhat easy to spot. But oregano… not to mention chili peppers, in all of the dozens of forms they morph into… those are the “silent” allergens that get me every time. 😦

    “Isn’t it easier to just cook at home?” “We can’t serve you here. You’re too much of a risk.” “Can you eat ANYTHING??” “Get out a book…it’s her turn to order.” Sound familiar? *sigh* I hope people learn more tolerance some day.

    Liked by 1 person

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