Rules Don’t Apply to Me

Swimming lessons were on the agenda today for my youngest, you might recall he has no food allergies. As you can imagine, I let my guard down a bit when I’m out with my little guy. I don’t have to be in my camouflage, with night vision goggles and use my food allergy telescopic lens analyzing every situation I encounter.

Prior to delving into my story, I must tell you how a sign reads on the entrance door to the pool deck. In case you don’t know, the deck refers to the area surrounding the pool. The sign says: Per Minnesota state law, no food or glass on deck.

Peanut Butter SandwichThere is one other boy in my son’s class, and for the last two sessions his mother has sat next to me with her younger son, he’s probably 2 years old. Last week he was eating what looked like Kix cereal, and of course, spilled them all over the deck floor.

This week, he was eating a peanut butter sandwich. As you can imagine, my irritation grew beyond belief. Then…“it” happened. The boy walked over to a 5’ x 8’, square foam island and began to smear his peanut butter sandwich all over it. My jaw dropped, not because a 2-year-old was doing it, but because the mother did nothing.

I finally said, “I’m not sure if you are aware, but there is a sign on the deck door that states no food or glass on deck, per Minnesota state law.” Her response to me was, “Yeah, well my son just got done with a 30-minute swim class so he is really hungry.” I replied with, “While I’m sure he is, it would probably be best if he ate in the lobby where food is permitted. Also, my son is allergic to peanut.”

Truly, I didn’t fib, my son is allergic to peanut; he just wasn’t the son that was in the swimming pool. After our exchange, the Mom and son proceeded to the lobby and spent the rest of the time there. She never cleaned up the sandwich left on the deck or the peanut butter smear. That wasn’t her responsibility, I guess.

Once we were ready to leave, I stopped by the front desk. When I shared what happened with the gal, she was horrified: wanted to know what foam island had the peanut butter on it, if I was aware of any remnants of sandwich on deck, etc. She asked me what type of cleaner to use to remove the peanut butter, she left momentarily and came back with Lysol wipes, paper towels and a spray bottle of multipurpose 409. She thanked me profusely and apologized for the experience. I couldn’t have been more pleased.young woman jogging with her dog in a park

Back to the Mom and me. Our exchange was respectful, let’s face it, it was uncomfortable for both of us. While I sat there distracted from the experience, I couldn’t get over the basic message of her response: yeah…well my son is hungry.

Don’t rules matter: no eating on the pool deck, no texting while driving, no-show for a doctor appointment, not having your dog on a leash or picking up its waste? Have we as a society decided that rules don’t apply to us as long as we have deemed our reason or excuse to be a good one?

Let’s keep the conversation going, please leave a comment.

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18 thoughts on “Rules Don’t Apply to Me

  1. Yes, this makes me crazy! I am so sorry that happened, I am sharing this post. I can’t stand when there are signs about no food or drinks, and folks do it anyway. Last summer at out apartment, someone broke a glass bottle IN THE POOL, under the sign saying no glass, and the pool was closed for a week. The peanut butter sandwich story is not just flouting the rules, but is potentially life-threatening. Good for you for saying something. When I’m bare foot, the last thing I want to do is step on someone’s Dorito crumbs, much less have to worry about my child’s safety. This would happen at our swimming lessons all the time, with an area where folks could eat 10 feet away… Glad the staff was so responsive.

    • Hi Katja! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m always amazed at how parents impose their needs on others, especially concerning food. It’s like we use food as a form of entertainment, i.e., we provide Cheerios to our kids at church, at the doctor’s office or at the pool, etc. No wonder our kids associated I have to be quiet; therefore, I need to eat. We send terrible messages to our children about food!

  2. I, too, have a problem with a lack of rule-following across the board, regardless of whether it involves my son’s allergies or not. (One of my biggest beefs lately is when people toss cigarette butts wherever – it is, by definition, littering.) Clearly no one else’s child ever gets hungry at the pool. Therefore, this must be one unique child to need to eat right then and there. But you know if her child slipped on someone else’s peanut butter she’d probably be the first to sue. Or if his food jammed the pumps, she’d complain that the pool was out of order. Kudos to the attendant!

    • Hi Johanna, thanks for commenting! Rules are there for a reason…I’m amazed how we as a society always feel that we have to question them or believe that our rights are being violated somehow. We have so very much in our lives, compared to say my parents or grandparents generation, that quite possibly do we think we deserve more?

  3. THIS needs to be discussed and something needs to be done. Once I went to my pharmacy to pickup my allergy meds which included Atarax and an Epi-Pen and had I not been paying attention to what the lady was holding while running around to get my scripts, I wouldn’t have noticed her eating a peanut buttery-looking granola bar while putting together my order!

    She got on the phone before I could say anything so I told the other woman who ended up ringing me up, who immediately shook her head at her colleague and grabbed the packages and transferred them to other bags.

    The irresponsible behavior of people eating peanuts and residue-laden peanut butter and other foods all over the place needs to stop.

    • Maya ~ Thanks for taking the time to comment. A gal on my Facebook page commented that it’s almost like we have to approach being in the outside world that there is a layer of allergens on everything. I thought that was a good thought, because, unfortunately, we just never know.

  4. I think it goes way beyond not following rules, but verges on a self-centered attitude that nothing matters but what I want, what I want to do, etc. without concern for the effects that any of our actions have on others, whether it be on a scale from life-threatening to simply irritating, We are evolving into an insular society that doesn’t concern itself with others because they are somewhat removed from our immediate concerns–in another car, on facebook, email, wherever. We need to start identifying with people again.

    • Thanks so much for commenting. Yes, I agree with you. I call that the “All About Me Show” it needs to be the “All About We Show.” A very dear friend of mine and I joke, but there is some truth in it, “It’s good to want things, it builds character.” We don’t have to satisfy our or our children’s needs right on the spot. It’s how we teach self control, rules, appropriate behavior, that list can go on and on.

  5. Kristin, Yes..that’s a very good way to look at it.

    Em, I 100% agree. There is a loss of love and gratitude in this world therefore contributing to a love-starved and insecure nation. The me-me-me attitude happens from a number of factors…upbringing, character and environment/experiences.

    Unfortunately, I think the only thing that can be done about that is doing our part…and healing others when we can, whether it be through a smile or a listening ear. Spread the love and hopefully it ripples.

    Anyone have other ideas?

  6. I think it’s fantastic that you spoke up – not only to the woman in question, but also to the people in charge. As for the woman, there’s always a chance that her excuse of her child being was hungry was just said to hide her own embarrassment, along with her quick getaway without cleaning up. She was obviously completely unaware of the possible effects of her actions until you brought it to her attention. A much needed wake up call for sure, but maybe one she didn’t know how to handle with grace.

    • Brynnda, Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I agree with you completely, it was a difficult situation for the both of us, even removing the food allergy and coming from a state law perspective. Embarrassed or not though, I think we all must realize that these situations are teaching moments not only for ourselves, but our children too. I think quite often it’s why we see some in the upcoming generation envisioning life as entitled with a splash of a lack of accountability. These types of situations, are golden opportunities for ourselves and others, including our children. Instead of abandoning the sandwich on the deck floor and leaving the peanut butter smeared on the foam island, it would have been an opportunity to explain to her hungry child that we need to eat in the lobby per state law. That we made the mess, we should clean it up. Later, she could have also explained to her child that was taking swimming lessons that I’m sorry we had to leave and watch through the glass, but I found out that food isn’t permitted on the deck. We teach our children how to behave, how to take responsibility, how to handle embarrassing situations so that they too will be able to face a responsibility with integrity and respect. I’m certainly not saying that it would have been easy as difficult situations usually aren’t. ~ Kristin

  7. Kristin, I’m so glad you opened this door to the discussion about rules. Yes, it’s easy to post them, but oh so hard to enforce them at times! Especially when the type of breakers feel so entitled from their upbringing with no responsibility and no consequences.

    My recent similar situation occurred on New Year’s Eve. After our first year and a half of dealing with my son’s life-threatening food Allergies, it took all my might to be brave enough to plan an evening away from home for our first sleepover. We booked a room at a brand new hotel which was literally right behind a hospital. I repeatedly called to confirm that their posted rules which were written on their website included no food or drink allowed in the pool area. I purchased a toaster oven to prepare our families food in our room. I again called the hotel confirming the no food rules and explaining the severity of our challenges.
    Upon Check in I once again repeated my questions and was assured we would “be perfectly safe”. Within 15 minutes we had our swimsuits on, ready to act like a “normal” family who could get away with their kids for the night and have fun. The second the door opened to the pool I could not only see, but smell the tables full of food next to the water. We immediately returned to the front desk to report our findings, only to be told that “well, we do have those rules posted, but sometimes we let our friends bring in food.”
    You can imagine my outrage!
    So glad your swimming lessons handled it better for you!

  8. Kristin, I’m glad the situation ended well. I sometimes fear that when I speak it up, it will turn ugly, but we must do what we must do. At my daughter’s swimming lesson years ago, a care giver (not parent) was eating pistachios and tossing the shells on the pool deck! I went to the facility owner and told her what was going on and if could also place LARGE signage up about no eating (there was not any signage).

    One other point I’d love to talk about is workers who eat nuts while working with the public. I was purchasing wine from a wine shop and the employee was eating from a bowl of nuts. Clearly, my 14 year old will not be buying wine, but what about adults with nut allergies? I told the clerk, that if a nut allergic adult comes to the counter, they can’t make their purchase. The clerk looked at me like a dear in headlights. I told her that the dust would get on the person and she might need to call 911. Again, dear in head lights. She didn’t know what to do and said she was going to go wash her hands.

    Thanks for bringing this up!

    • Hey girl! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to say something…no one wants to make a scene. I felt the same way the previous week with the Kix cereal, I let it ride. Then when it came to peanut butter…how could I not was really the question in my head.

      Just a couple of updates…last week I noticed that the white island float was gone. In fact, all of them were gone and replaced with brand new yellow ones. I’m wondering if that was the catalyst to just ditch them and purchase new. One will never know.

      Lastly, the mother has not been at the last two swimming sessions, Dad was there instead. Coincidence, certainly could be…but I’m sure she learned something about food allergies, just as your salesperson at the wine shop.

  9. I’m a college student and I can really relate to this situation. I don’t know how many times I have walked into a classroom or computer lab in college to find crumbs littering the desks and keyboard. I’ve also sat beside a number of people who have eaten peanut butter crackers or sandwiches beside me. While I’m not anaphylactic, I do have severe stomach problems when I ingest even a small amount of my allergens. This just frustrates me to no end, especially when there was a sign right there! There is no need for the kid to eat there when I’m sure there are areas designated for that kind of thing.

    Thanks for sharing this story!

    • Hi Alley! Yes, it’s certainly frustrating to find food everywhere you go and it can show up in the least suspecting places. Thanks for taking the time to comment! ~ Kristin

  10. Pingback: Food Allergy Friday (Awareness Week) | Eating 4 Balance

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