Friday, August 20, 2010


Most of the time, I don't really like to get on the bandwagon. I would rather ignore whatever the latest bandwagon is until I have time to research the topic and decide my own opinion. So it is with reluctance that I am getting on the Joel Stein Bandwagon.

Joel Stein? Who's that? Joel Stein is a columnist. He wrote a rather inflammatory column which was published in the Los Angeles Times in January, which opened with this line: "Your kid doesn't have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special." This was followed with lots more nonsense about food allergies.

Lots of food allergy bloggers and writers were angry. (Surprise, surprise!) But then something sad happened--Joel Stein's little son Laszlo had an allergic reaction after eating mixed nuts. This wasn't your 5-hives-and-an-itchy-mouth type reaction, either. Joel describes it like this, "Laszlo started sneezing, then breaking out in hives, then rubbing his eyes, then crying through welded-shut eyes, then screaming and, finally, vomiting copiously at the entrance of the Childrens Hospital emergency room..." Having seen Sophie like this, its enough to break my heart. And clearly, Joel has learned a little--he wrote a new article in which he explained his new point of view.

Normally, at this point I would still be completely ignoring all of this. After all, what we have here is some guy who doesn't know squat about food allergies and said some stupid things, after which he learned a little about food allergies. Here's the problem: now all those food allergy bloggers who were mad before are writing about karma and nut free schools and 20 other related things, all mean-spirited.

BACK OFF! We need to give this guy some space! He is still learning about food allergies and what that's going to mean for his kid and his life. All of us can look back on our early days and we can see that there is a learning curve with food allergies. I made mistakes; I'm sure you did too. But unless Mr. Stein makes mistakes that endanger his son, it's nobody's business. And even then it's up to his wife and social services and a doctor to sort out, not the public! So let's not worry about whether he's going to exclude nuts from his house. And let's not worry about his son's school and classroom. Let him, his wife, and their doctors manage Laszlo's allergies.

Every kid is different. Their allergies are different. Some kids can sit next to someone eating peanut butter with no problems. Some kids have to leave the house if there is pasta boiling to avoid reactions. Let's allow the Stein family to determine how to manage Laszlo's allergies, just as we were allowed to choose for our own children.

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