Did I miss something?

When did it happen that all of a sudden nuts are a public health concern? Is it just the wicked liberal slant of the Pioneer Valley, or is it something else? I spent 12 years in a public school system between 1981 and 1993. I attended a regional high school that was comprised of children from 7 different towns. All I’m saying is that not once in all that time and all those kids from all that area did I ever hear of anyone who had any allergy to nuts of any kind, let alone one that was so severe that there was an actual risk of death from even indirect contact with as little as one peanut.

But now….

Point in fact: my oldest daughter’s elementary school. They have just completed construction of a fifty five thousand dollar expansion to the playground. (55k for a playground? Hmmm. For just twice that, I bought a house. That playground better have wi-fi.) Apparently, the company that was contracted to build (or at least assemble) the playground was picked in part due to their use of recycled materials. This included ground-cover material made from recycled, ground-up old tires. It’s softer than rocks and it won’t rot like mulch. So where am I going with this? The boxes that all this wonderful bouncy material was shipped in were also reused, and at one point in their history they were used to ship – anybody? – peanuts.

So now the playground that was supposed to open the day after Labor Day is closed and fenced off indefinitely while all that “contaminated” rubber material is removed and the ground it touched is, I assume, sterilized. The entire playground assembly must now be wiped clean, every pipe, every bolt, every doo-dad. I can only imagine that removal of the rubber and the boxes it was shipped in closely resembled a hazmat operation that would make an asbestos removal team look like a bunch of guys in jeans and t-shirts landscaping a yard.

Is all this really necessary? In the end that’s a matter of opinion. If there’s a child who currently, or soon will be attending that school then I can almost understand it all, but it’s still insane. To me it all feels like over reaction. We can’t protect our kids from every little thing. What if one of the kids was allergic to bee stings? Are we gonna build a dome over the playground? For one kid? I suppose, if someone had enough clout and a big enough mouth. In the meantime, I’m sure that I’d still have to pay the $1900 tuition for my youngest to attend full day kindergarten.

We’ve become too damned scared. Who needs terrorists when a peanut can grind us to a halt?


2 responses to “Nuts.

  1. Pat, I love checking out your blog, you have the best sense of humor and writing style. You are like a mild-mannered Lewis Black.

    I can only recall 2pp in school who had nut allergies, Emily P and her brother Ben. Otherwise, never came across it. But these days, because we coddle kids so much, trying to ‘protect’ them from every last germ, chemical, speck of dust and non-cushiony surface, kids are becoming weaker and more susceptible to everything. Physically, emotionally, etc.

    I haven’t babyproofed my house because mine never was as a child and my brother and I both managed to survive just fine. Because my parents kept an eye on us but they also trusted us to figure some things out for ourselves, complete with a few bumps, scrapes and tears along the way.

    Kids are resilient, and more intelligent and cautious than we often give them credit for. It’s unfortunate that there are adults out there who go to such ‘extremes’ and manage to suck the joy out of childhood.

  2. A mild-mannered Lewis Black, huh? I can live with that. How ya doing? I don’t see you on Y! anymore.

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