My eight-year-old is deathly allergic to nuts. We found this out when he was 18 months and my wife gave him peanut butter. He went from looking like himself to Violet Beauregarde in about 90 seconds.
But he's always been vigilant about letting people know about his strict no-nuts policy. It's been incredibly helpful because it keeps him from dying, but also because I'm the type of parent who figures Honey Nut Cheerios are fine because "Cheerios" is in the name, and everyone knows that Cheerios trump nuts.
(We didn't have nut allergies when I was a kid. It wasn't on anyone's radar so I've had to condition myself to be cognizant of it. Also not helping: I LOVE peanut butter. In fact, back when I had a real job that required me to leave the house and go push papers around in an office, I may or may not have kept a sleeve of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my desk drawer. And I may or may not have had to replace that sleeve a couple times a week.)
I mention all this because two years ago, when the eight-year-old was six and in first grade, I got a call from the school nurse.
Nurse: "Hi Mr. Wilson. Just calling to let you know your son accidentally had a Nutty Buddy at lunch."
Me: "Nutty Buddy? He ate something called a Nutty Buddy? 'Nut' is literally in the name!"
Nurse: "Yes it is. But he only had one bite before realizing what he did and he immediately told a teacher."
Me: "Right. But it's called Nutty Buddy.
Nurse: "Yes, I understand. So anyway, we administered the EpiPen -- he was great -- and because it happened at school we've had to call an ambulance. It's standard policy."
I got off the phone, texted my wife the details, and put the two-year-old in the car. We beat the ambulance to school, and walked into the nurse's office to see the six-year-old sitting quietly on one of those kid-sized hospital beds. He admitted to being a little scared, but said he was doing fine though he couldn't pinpoint why in God's name he decided to buy and then eat a Nutty Buddy.
(My wife and I have a theory: the eight-year-old has always loved school. Just loved it. But first grade was tough for a variety of reasons and we're guessing that when this happened -- it was towards the end of the school year -- he was generally distracted and pretty much tuned out to what was going on around him. Unfortunately, this made little difference to his immune system.)
The wife arrived a few minutes later and the ambulance wasn't far behind. The EMTs checked the six-year-old out and his vitals were good, but they were still required by law to transport him to the emergency room.
No problem since the wife would ride with him in, and me and the two-year-old would follow in the car.
But first, the EMTs had to put the six-year-old on a gurney. And that's where things got awesome.
The nurse's office is located in the center of the school, no more than 50 feet from the front door. So if something's going down teachers, students, visitors -- basically anybody who isn't legally blind -- will see it.
As the EMTs strapped the six-year-old to the gurney and rolled him into the hallway, two classes of kids walked by, gawking like, well, kids who suddenly realize one of their own is immobilized by two official-looking adults, and everyone knows such things only happen when something's gone horribly wrong.
Meanwhile, the six-year-old notices the attention, but because he's restrained from head to toe he can't really indicate that he's fine. Instead, I see a smile creep across his face because everyone will get to see him rolled out of school and into an ambulance. (I'm convinced that in his mind, this is a piggyback ride.)
The hospital was uneventful; the six-year-old was given a steroid and observed for a few hours, and after they gave us the all-clear, we went home.
That evening, we got calls from concerned friends and neighbors, many of whom heard the story second or third hand from their kids. One of the best: on the bus ride home, one of the kids on our street heard from a buddy that Kai had either broken his leg or was dead. (Sadly, no mention of anybody passing out at 31 Flavors.)
The lesson: If you have nut allergies don't eat something called a Nutty Buddy. But if you do know that the school-bus rumor mill will come up with a fantastic tale of your untimely demise.