I hate holidays that involved candy and the color red. But, I am a big fan of St. Patrick’s Day. Green. Beer.
Why the red candy holiday hating? Cereal Killer and Rain Man are allergic to artificial red food dyes. (The biggest culprits are Red #40 and Red #2.) A growing number of children are sensitive to red dye and this is usually associated with ADHD. It makes them fly round the bend and is wholly unpleasant for everyone involved. BUT, my children are not red dye sensitive. They are allergic.
When the twins were 2 years old, I brought them on a “super fun” 13 hour road trip that ended with a “super fun” surgery for them. The night before the surgery we went to one of those obnoxiously huge buffets. You know the kind. You can eat foods from all major ethnicities there and then experience global warfare among those ethnicities in your digestive tract a few hours later. Truly charming.
Anyhow, the boys were told they could eat whatever they wanted for dinner because I was having misplaced guilt over their surgeries. I can’t take away their pain, but I can let them gorge themselves on sloppy soft-serv ice cream. The boys capitalized on this and ate huge plates of red gelatin for their dinner. I noticed they both got rashes on their faces very quickly. As the night progressed, the boys had a hard time breathing and were very swollen and uncomfortable. We almost had to scratch the surgery because they were getting to the point of NEEDING some sort of anti-histamine, but you can’t really hop a toddler up on Benadryl and then send them to anesthesia a few hours later, you know? That’s asking for trouble. Fortunately, they started improving as the gelatin flushed out of their systems and the surgeries went off without a hitch.
What was the moral of that story? NO RED DYE. I check labels, I order special suspensions on their medicines (who had the jackass idea to make all “kid meds” neon red and in cherry flavor? Allergies aside, that shit stains and some children aren’t little angels who daintily sip all medications with care.) and I make certain their teachers know about the allergies.
The teachers have been great. Before holidays they send home notes that treats are welcome, but that there are some students who cannot have red dye in the class. Now, I don’t know about you but, if that note was sent home to me, I would take that to mean, “Don’t send a treat with red dye in it.” Apparently reading comprehension isn’t a high priority for parents these days.
On Valentine’s Day the twins came home with paper sacks bursting with character Valentine cards and treats. (The Justin Bieber cards were the ones that really made me go “WTF?” These kids are 4. FOUR! 4 year olds are already panting for Justin Bieber? Are you kidding me?) I confiscated the treat bags immediately and set to work removing Skittles, red heart suckers, and red gummies.
The boys are screaming by this point. Once food is in Rain Man’s possession, it’s HIS FOOD. He has claimed ownership of it and my blatant theft of his property set him off. He began screaming, stomping, crying, and throwing kitchen chairs. (He’s almost 4 feet tall and weighs 50lbs. He’s 4 and has a hard time controlling his emotions. Yes, he can THROW chairs.) Cereal Killer is swatting at me and trying to grab the candy from my hands. Foodie is at my ankles, begging for a candy loudly and persistently. (She has no allergies that we know of, but I am not stupid enough to give her the coveted red candies. Especially not in front of the twins.) I throw them in the garbage can. Rain Man throws the garbage can over. Cereal Killer and Foodie dive for the contents of the can. After a long, messy, noisy, and stressful fight, I have the contents of the garbage can back IN the garbage can, and all three children sulking in the living room with candy kisses. My nerves are fried so, I turn to my Internet Therapist: Facebook.
“Honestly, how hard is it for parents to READ the notes home about Valentines? I am SO SICK of having to intercept effing red candies that some moron sent as a Valentine from their kid. You read the note to get all the names of the kids, why didn’t you read the line about red dye?! Ug…”
When I am going to write a snippy status, I get right to the point, folks. Now here’s where it gets iffy. Did I put my foot in my mouth or was I justified? I am (or was? She may have offed me for this one…) friends with a mother of a classmate of the twins. And my status offended her. She posted something back to me that it was her understanding that my kids have their own snacks.
So, you send treats to school that you KNOW my kids can’t have and you think that’s okay. You conciously decided to send a snack to school that you know 1/5 of the class cannot eat and should not be around. For real??
Is it really that hard to NOT tape a red sucker to the Valentine addressed to Rain Man? Could you consider leaving just two cupcakes without sprinkles so my kids can have a special treat, too? Yes, I do buy and supply special food for my kids at school DESPITE the fact that the school is supposed to supply all foods for the special needs of the students. I buy absurdly expensive chocolate candies that look like M&Ms so my boys can have the same “good behavior” reward as the other kids in the class. I purchase crackers and cookies (always at a high premium because they aren’t loaded with dyes) for snack time so the boys don’t have to eat plain Cheerios when everyone else gets animal crackers with pink frosting. I am out a LOT of money so my kids aren’t completely left out all the time. They know they don’t always get to participate in birthday treats because the other parents forget/don’t care and send cupcakes the twins can’t have, but for Christ’s sake, could you just NOT put Goddamned Skittles in their Valentines? I think it’s really heartless to read that there is an allergy in the class and send something you KNOW some kids can’t have anyway because it’s “not my problem” or “they should have their own snacks”. (Because I can predict what all the other parents are going to send and have an appropriate substitution for the teacher to swoop in with every time. She has nothing better to do, right?)
Would these parents be such blatant dicks about it if “peanuts” were substituted for “red dye”? You wouldn’t dare address a Valentine to Cereal Killer with a big, fucking peanut butter cup glued to it if we said he was allergic to peanuts. So why, when he has a very similar reaction to red dye as some people have to peanuts, do you consider it MY problem alone and you do whatever the hell you want? 4 year olds don’t “get” allergies. They aren’t big on self-preservation. A red heart sucker looks GOOD. He doesn’t know it could land him in the hospital. You want to be responsible for a 4 year old’s anaphylactic shock? Seriously?
I am not asking the school to go dye-free for my Special Snowflakes (even though it would probably be good for everyone to cut dyes from their diet, that’s another issue entirely…). I just want people to quit giving my kids red candy and possibly consider bringing treats that don’t exclude my kids all the time. I have to be the bad guy and take it all away. So, you know what, I don’t think I put my foot in my mouth by bitching on Facebook. I am sick of the crying fits over suckers and the guilt that my kids are sitting out during birthday time because some douchebag can’t manage to ask the cake decorator at Walmart to leave a couple of the cupcakes without pink confetti heart sprinkles.
I would love to show these parents where they can shove their Skittles, dude. Love to.