First World Problems

First World Problems

In a world gone mad, where Ministers embrace terrorists, where power outages are daily and the economy is stumbling and faltering, where moral degradation threatens to sweep us away in its powerful current, where our hands burn from desperately clutching any branch that stretches across the turbulent waters, it is comforting to know that we have school rules to keep us grounded.

I read the latest communiqué to parents with horror. It would seem that the school that my children attend, has gone to war. It’s an all out affront and we parents, it would seem, are either with them, or against them. We are in or out. There is simply no middle ground and if the letter can be believed, the subject is no laughing matter. Not at all.

There is nothing funny about the banning of almost every foodstuff known to man because, someone, once, on the paternal grandfather’s side might have (unconfirmed because the maid was home with the kids), exhibited what might have been, maybe, an allergy to Fizzers. Yep, Fizzers – that affordable South African party favourite that has been removing our children’s teeth for generations, banned with the swoop of the pen. And Fish-paste, that stinky spread – the lazy mom’s alternative that has been embarrassing our offspring with its stench since Abraham set out for the Promised Land. Banned, removed, and never to be used again in sandwich swops or for any other sinister purposes. The currency of the masses confined to the dustbin of “bad moms”. Flings it would seem have the look of the guilty and need to exorcised and as for eggs, well they never stood a chance. We all knew that. And shame on those who thought that colored popcorn was an alternative, because it is not, it contains something, we all know that, and it’s bad, really bad. It hardly needs to be spelled out, because every good mom knows it. She always has.

And don’t think that that sneaky soya ice cream (whatever that might be) could pass the eagle eyed Food Allergy Militants (FAM). They figured out that somewhere, in the history of its production, when no one was paying attention, soya had met a nut, and it had liked it. That’s how good they are. And we as parents must be so grateful because how else would have know that Soya Ice cream is harboring this dirty and nasty secret.

Although the “Dear Concerned Parents” letter does not say so, it is very clear that this is a first in a series of steps taken to protect our children from the scourge of allergies that plague our tender ones. Next (if parking lot rumor is to be believed), is the banning of bees on campus followed by pollen, cut grass and cats. The fields will be converted to Astroturf and the swimming pool re filled with Aquazania. Anyone suffering from a paper cut will be sent home lest there be transmission of you-know-what and air quality levels will be approved before anyone goes out to play.

Allergies are serious. And they are potentially deadly. And the anxiety that parents with allergic children suffer is immense. I know that because we have one of them. But we have to balance what is achievable and manageable with what is not. And whereas many schools around the world are nut free (and it makes sense), we have to be a little careful not to make it the first stop on this very dangerous ride. And more so, not because we will land up removing every potential hazard from our environment, but because by trying to eliminate it all we will lose sight of the ones that really count and really do damage. And no one wants that.

Of course we are grateful that our school cares for our little ones (Maybe even more than we do). And we appreciate that in a world where Isis is burning and beheading whomever they meet, that we have them to keep perspective. To keep us focused on what is really important and valuable. I just keep thinking that maybe, just maybe a little less focus wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Follow me on Twitter@HowardFeldman

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