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Dad Called Out For Letting Son Bring Snacks From Japan Despite Classmate With Gluten Allergy

a young boy cries in a classroom
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Food allergies, food sensitivities and food preferences are three very different things.

Both food allergies and food sensitivities can have serious to mild medical side effects. They can cause anything from mild stomach upset, rash or hives to manic episodes, extreme pain or even death.

Whereas food preferences are related to personal choices alone. However after living on a set diet based on preferences for years, it can lead to stomach upset if a food cut out of the diet is reintroduced.

A lot of people confuse food sensitivities with food preferences.

Some people choose to avoid carbs or red meat or animal byproducts or gluten. But others have actual sensitivities to these foods.

Food fads shouldn’t be treated like allergies or sensitivities.

Celiac disease and Phenylketonuria (PKU) require dietary restrictions as part of the treatment and management of symptoms. Neither syndrome is an allergy, but failure to avoid or limit certain foods—even trace amounts—can have serious consequences.

But does that mean others must always alter their diets to accommodate people with allergies or sensitivities?

A father is wondering about that exact question after a conflict with another parent over a snack. He turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Striking-Sir7168 asked:

“AITA for allowing my child to bring in souvenir snacks for his class despite knowing this would exclude one of the kids?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I recently went on a holiday to Japan with my son (age 7) and whilst we were there he tried some delicious biscuits which he really wanted to buy and share with his classmates once he got back. Obviously I was happy to purchase some additional and found it really sweet he wanted to share with everyone.”

“It was just something in the spur of the moment at the time. We walked past a shop that was handing them out as a taster and my son loved them so much he really wanted to share with his schoolmates back home.”

“We weren’t planning on bringing any souvenirs back for classmates at all, my son just enjoyed them so much he wanted to share and I was really proud of the way he thought about other people and wanting to share different cultures so saw no issue with buying an extra pack of the biscuits.”

“I didn’t think about it at the time of purchase since we were mid holiday in a different country, however when we were back and I was packing my sons bag for his first day back at school I suddenly remembered that he has one classmate, let’s call him Joe, who has a gluten allergy and wouldn’t be able to eat these biscuits.”

“But it was too late for me to do anything about this, it was late and shops were closed so I wouldn’t be able to buy an alternative plus they wouldn’t be from Japan anyway and would be from the local supermarket. I also wouldn’t have had time to pick any up in the morning because I work full time.”

“My son was doing a story time about his trip to Japan and wanted to share the biscuits as part of his story.”

“I know about Joe’s gluten intolerance because it’s happened before with other parents bringing in classroom snacks and at events.”

“Joe would not eat any of the snacks brought in unless it’s been made 100% sure there’s no gluten in it and when there’s been a school event I think they always have something separate for him.”

“For the biscuits my son brought in the ingredients were in Japanese so the teacher let Joe know and he did not have any.”

“Son was happy bringing them to school and said everyone also enjoyed them.”

“However I got an angry phone call from Joe’s mum saying that I shouldn’t have let my son bring in those biscuits knowing that her son would be excluded.”

“She said that I should cater to allergies especially children’s allergies, which I would understand if it was say for example peanut allergy which is life threatening, but should gluten intolerance be treated with the same extreme caution?”

“Joe’s mum wanted it to be gluten free food or don’t bring it in at all. I feel that if it was my own son I would make sure the teacher has a few gluten free snacks she could give my child in these situations and I wouldn’t expect the whole class to miss out just for my son.”

“If this was my son’s close friend then for sure. But this is another kid from his class my son barely has any contact with.”

“To go out my way to buy him a separate gift, this is still excluding him from the ‘bonding’ experience. He’s still being treated differently.”

“If I was Joe’s mum I don’t see why I would expect another child’s parent who is not close to me at all would care about my son as much as I would. If they were say playmates then that’s a different story.”

“My son was just being thoughtful and wanting to share something he liked with other kids, something very innocent.”

“To ask him to bring something special to one specific kid who’s not even his ‘best friend’ would start a whole string of him wanting to bring in gifts for his actual friends and not who is in essence a ‘stranger’ to him.”

“Also, my son has no clue about this kids intolerance. It wouldn’t be something he knew and decided ‘f*ck Joe’. He just wanted to share, I’m not taking this experience away from him and making him think wanting to share has strings attached to it.”

“I get inclusion, but this is a f*cking biscuit. If it was an event or a meal then teaching inclusivity for sure, but over a snack…let’s not make a mountain out a molehill.”

“My world does not revolve around someone else’s kid.”

“My kid just wanted to share. I’m not about to take away from my kid being thoughtful and a kind human being.”

“My kid’s happiness will always be my top priority, not someone else’s kid—especially over a f*cking biscuit. I’m not teaching my kid that kindness has strings attached and a load of considerations before you can even think about actioning a kind thought.”

“If it was say a meal, or a party where it’s more substantial then I would expect nothing less than to cater for dietary requirements. My only issue in this situation is that it’s literally a biscuit. One singular small biscuit.”

“They were packaged individually so Joe could have easily taken it home with him and his mum exchange it to something he can eat. But in this case he chose to not take any.”

“Whether that is his own refusal knowing it’s not safe food or he wasn’t given the option by the teacher for precautionary measures I don’t know.”

“I’m not sure if I was the AH for still allowing my son to bring in the biscuits despite me knowing one kid wouldn’t be able to have.”

The OP summed up their conundrum.

“May be the a**hole for allowing son to bring the biscuits in despite knowing one kid wouldn’t be able to have any.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors were divided in their judgment, with some voting OP was not the a**hole (NTA)…

“NTA—I’m Celiac, my 5-year-old is also, and even if you sent something gluten-free in for him, I wouldn’t have allowed my son to eat it.”

“The risk is too much. I make sure that my son has high value snacks with his teacher JUST for this scenario.”

“You can’t exclude/include every allergy/scenario. There’s egg allergies, soy allergies, etc… It’s up to the parents of these kids to make sure they have safe treats on hand.” ~ miriandrae

“When I was in 3rd grade I had a classmate with some dietary restriction and any time people brought in birthday treats, she got to eat some random cookies her mom brought in just for her. Our teacher would just give her 2 while we ate whatever someone’s parent brought in.”

“Easy to be prepared for random snack scenarios with a special treat that parents bring in before the scenario happens.”

“NTA to OP who’s child wanted to share fun snacks from a trip. Can’t imagine trying to find a gluten free certification in Japanese as a traveler that doesn’t read the language.” ~ clrwCO

“NTA. When my daughter (Celiac) was young we packed a special snack (a pre-packed treat) in her lunch DAILY.”

“She was not allowed to eat it unless there was an occasion just like what you are describing.”

“She would come in excited when she couldn’t eat the thing that someone brought in and got to have one of her special snacks. It’s Joe’s mum’s job to provide for her child.” ~ IllTakeACupOfTea

…others saying OP was the a**hole (YTA)…

“My immediate thought is YTA. If you are going to send things to school with your child, you need to make sure that everyone is included in some capacity (even if not in the exact same way—it doesn’t matter if the accommodated snack is not from Japan).”

“If it doesn’t include everyone, then it shouldn’t be sent. Period. Leaving one child to be excluded while a room full of other kids gets to have a fun treat is just mean and inconsiderate.” ~ theresbeans

“I’m going to have to go soft YTA here. You could have held off one day so you could get a gluten-free cookie or piece of candy for Joe.”

“It’s not exactly the same as a treat from Japan but making a kid sit with nothing while all the other kids enjoyed a treat seems rude.” ~ spaceylaceygirl

“YTA. Joe isn’t your kid so you don’t HAVE to provide him with a snack, but small kindnesses go a long way.”

“Keeping the treats until you could also grab something for Joe so he could be included would’ve been the kinder thing to do in my eyes.”

“Also, gluten intolerance can be quite dangerous so please don’t be so dismissive.” ~ CrabbiestAsp

…and some deciding everyone sucked (ESH).

“ESH. Mom should have asked the school why snacks like these are being passed out. Teacher let the student pass out the snacks.”

“And you for being dismissive of an actual condition that can cause serious issues in the future. It’s like telling someone that has depression it’s like not having borderline personality disorder so it’s not as serious right?”

“Also want to add how often does Joe not get to celebrate with others due to his gluten intolerance? I can absolutely see Joe going home and crying because all of the other kids got a special treat and he was left out.”

“He’s seven. Being excluded like this is hard at that age.”

“The lack of empathy and people telling Joe to get over it and he should get used to being excluded is appalling.” ~ DwarfFlyingSquirrel

“Yup, OP is definitely an AH here, but so is the teacher for allowing this. It’s not on the teacher to bring in snacks, of course, but it is on them to allow the sharing of snacks like this that purposefully excludes a student, multiple times.”

“And it is purposeful on OP’s part because they thought about this the night before and could potentially accommodate but let their kid bring in the snacks anyway.”

“OP says if they had more time, but they could have had more time. Or the kid could just share with their friends at lunch.”

“Plus OP saying gluten intolerance isn’t as extreme? Yeah, it is. People end up in the hospital because of it.”

So in my opinion ESH. For everyone saying ‘the world doesn’t cater to you,’ kindness goes a long way, and it’s important for kids to be taught to be considerate.” ~ citrushibiscus

“I think a soft ESH is due here. You DID think about the issue the night before. I think it would have been best to go to a shop in the morning or, if that wasn’t possible, hold off on sending the treats to school until you had a chance to buy a substitute for Joe.”

“It wouldn’t matter that it wasn’t from Japan—kids want treats and it’s hard to watch the other kids all eat treats while you just sit there.”

“The teacher, frankly, shouldn’t have let these get passed out without rounding up something for Joe as well. I’m surprised it’s not a school policy.”

“Finally, I’m all for Joe’s mom advocating for him, but she’s not doing him any favors by waging wars with other parents over biscuits. It’s a good way to get him disinvited from birthday parties, etc…” ~ JeepersCreepers74

Food allergies and sensitivities in classrooms and workplaces should be dictated by severity.

Some people with either condition have to worry about cross-contamination and airborne exposure whereas others can actually consume the food, but need to take medication like Lactaid or an antihistamine.

If the potential reaction is severe, the offending food shouldn’t be brought in. If the reaction is only from direct consumption, then school or workplace policies should be followed.

A mild or nullified reaction usually doesn’t warrant precautions from anyone else, just the person affected.

This father doesn’t appear to know anything about gluten intolerance or the child’s sensitivity level.

That might be a good place for parents of this classroom to start.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.