Today I got a call from J.T.’s school nurse. She was letting me know that in art class the students were using egg cartons…and that J.T. was choosing not to participate. After the art teacher checked in with the nurse, the nurse tried telling J.T. that the cartons were safe for him to touch and when he still refused she offered to call me, I think expecting me to say it was OK. Which I immediately said it was not. Egg’s are a life threatening allergy for J.T. and our thinking about them is very black and white. Eggs are unsafe. There is no gray area where J.T. has to make decisions about when or why they “might” be safe. He knows they could make him very sick and not to come into contact with them. Someday he will have to make those decisions for himself, but not in first grade.
The nurse was concerned that J.T. would feel left out if he didn’t participate in the project, he was more concerned that he would get sick if he touched the egg cartons. I was concerned that it was happening at all (since it states in his health plan that all project materials are supposed to be allergen free). But the overwhelming emotion that I felt through all of this was pride. My first grader stood up for himself, and not just to his peers but to his adult teachers. He made it clear that he was uncomfortable and that he was not going to participate in an activity that he felt was harmful to his health. He understands his allergies and the risks involved and that is so important. In the end, he didn’t feel left out or different and he didn’t let his allergies get him down. He had a great day and came home to 2 super proud parents!