Saturday, July 31, 2010

Compassion

One of the things that concerns and confounds me about the world is the seeming lack of compassion people seem to have for one another. Not just in the world of food allergies but in the world at large. It seems as if someone senses their own wants are at all compromised by the needs of others they act with outright animosity and anger. Whether its sharing the road, the grocery store aisle, or space in the world in general. I don't know if it is the area I live in but I have begun to be very worried about the human race due to the animosity I feel around me everyday.

It's the lady at the pool that practically pushes my child aside to go up the steps. No excuse me or even eye contact even though we are the only other people in the pool. Its the woman at the grocery store berating the lady waiting in her car for her grocery delivery because she has been parked there too long and the other woman wants her to move. No, please could you move up or can I get in here. Just a barrage of verbal abuse.

It's also the lack of compassion from others when dealing with those with food allergies. Its the parents of another child in my son's class. As the teacher is explaining that there is one child in the class with severe food allergies the parent spews out "So everyone else has to suffer because of one child." If he had let the teacher finish he would have realized that her comments would have ended in "You can still bring what you want and the parent of the food allergic child will provide a separate snack."

It's the same teacher a month later refusing to change her plans to make cookies using both milk and eggs in the classroom, even though I have offered to make cookie dough for the whole class, because "We do not deprive the other children because of one child." They had made no other plan for my child, he was just not going to be allowed to participate in the cookie making.

It's a woman in one of my former playgroups that would continuously bring unsafe snacks not just to our playgroups but to my house. An eggy milk, based dip one time. A snickers cheesecake to another. That time the playgroup wasn't at my house it was at another members house who had just found out her son had a severe peanut allergy. I could never understand if she just didn't get it or just didn't care.

It is the Washington Post printing an editorial response (in very large print) to an article about peanut free sections at baseball games. "I'll give up my peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

I realize that all these incidents may seem very minor. But I have dozens more. They one by one add up and make me wary of people's reactions to me, to my children and to their food allergies. I honestly didn't make up their problems or cause them or want to even burden YOU with them. But we all live in this world together and we all, in one way of the other, too often look the other way and say "That is not my problem." We lack compassion for another person's burdens and instead focus on how their problem encroaches upon my rights.

I am not asking you to change the way you live. But if you are my neighbor, I think it is kind if you look me in the eye and say hello. If you are my son's teacher, I expect you to make him feel included and keep him out of dangers way. If you are parents of other kids at my children's' school I wish you could see us as part of your community and not as "the child who deprives others."

Just walk a day in my shoes. I am striving to walk a day in yours.


17 comments:

Infant Bibliophile said...

Nice post. I have the playgroup problem too (I've accepted that goldfish crackers are everywhere). For the most part, I let it all go, but I haven't had to deal with school yet. I truly don't understand people's insensitivity. When my son has a party now, I make sure to query every guest, and accommodate everyone in some way - vegetarians, celiacs, those with allergies, etc. I don't expect other parents to adjust their birthday menu for us, but I do it for them. To me, it is just how to be a good host, and an act of kindness. The comment that the teacher made about depriving other kids just breaks my heart. How about teaching children compassion and empathy for other people? Maybe even a little science about food allergies? Ugh, I swear stories like that are going to drive me to homeschool :) (Mom to 2 1/2 year old allergic to wheat, milk, eggs, tree nuts, oat, and sesame).

Libby said...

I understand. It's so hard not just advocating for my child, but doing it nicely, both so that my son can learn how to stand up for himself, but still be polite AND because I am, whether I want to be or not, the representative Food Allergy Mom.

If you want to see an example of one of the haters learning some compassion the hard way, check this out:

http://freedomtoeat.blogspot.com/2010/07/joel-steins-mea-culpa.html

Haley said...

I'm so scared to send my son to school in a world that lacks compassion and understanding. My son is 3 with multiple food allergies (dairy, eggs, and peanuts). I am just plain scared to let him go and I hate that food is such a focus in our society that we would endanger the LIVES of other people.

SO glad your blog is back!!!!

Kristy said...

Just discovered your blog. Enjoying it! Thanks for sharing your story!! Helps us know we are not alone. Wondering, if you would be open to looking over my list of derivatives/ aliases for the allergies that your kids have, just to help me make sure it's comprehensive? I'm working on a tool for food allergy sufferers.

Kristy
kristy_swain@hotmail.com

Benny Boo and Linsey Lou said...

I totally know how you feel. I've had people fighting with me, yelling at me like I was some monster because I wanted to keep my son safe. I had a flight attendant get all snippy with me once when I asked them not to serve peanuts. It just blows my mind. I want to say, "Where's your kid? Let's find a moving bus and throw them in front of it and then see how YOU feel." I grab hold of the people who really try to empathize with me and who are willing to help me in my battles.

Benny Boo and Linsey Lou said...

Oh, and here's another one I don't get... How is it "suffering" to ask for alternatives? I got that one a lot when we got our church group to omit goldfish from their snack regime. "Oh the kids will really miss it!"--you know what, that's not suffering. There are other options that are sometimes even tastier. Ever heard of "teddy grahams"??? Ever heard of "Trix"??? How about "Marshmellows". Fresh Fruit? Ritz Crackers? Hmmm... sounds like a modern day holocost doesn't it?

And the cookie thing!? Geez, How cool would it be to incorporate an allergy awareness into the cookie making? Now there's a good idea. I'm going to take that one and run with it.

Sorry. That just makes me so flippin' mad. you don't have to publish this, but ugh... I wish there was a nice way to get through to these numbskulls. I wish there was a way to get through at all.

vent complete. lol :)

Modern Allergy Mom said...

Well said. I do have a positive note. I just got an email from my son's soccer coach asking for a list of safe snacks to provide for the other parents. In spite of his numerous allergies are there a lot of easy to get snacks that are safe for him. That has never happened.

Alison said...

So glad to see you are online again. Good luck with everything (work, food, other teachers!) as school starts back up this year...

Cassie said...

I love your blog and I love this post. You are absolutely right, when did we forget how to treat others with kindness?

I think moms of kids with food allergies know all too well how quickly life can change, how one little thing makes all the difference to us. we can teach our children about tolerance, patience, and acceptance.

Rachel said...

Hi! I just found your blog and I have to tell you it is so encouraging to me to find other people dealing with food allergies. My little boy is almost 2 and is allergic to milk, egg, peanuts and tree nuts. It can feel overwhelming at times. Thanks for blogging !

The Kohlers said...

Thus far, we have been very blessed to be surrounded by compassionate, understanding people. My son is allergic to all milk (including my breast milk) which also means all dairy products, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, chocolate, and some legumes. He is also allergic to all animals, hay, dust, molds, etc. He cannot go outside of the house on "bad air" days (high levels of pollutants in the air)or in a house that has had pets in it. His lungs are extremely sensitive and when he gets around any of his allergens or even gets a simple cold, we have to treat him with albuterol through a nebulizer to prevent hospitalization. At first I thought we would have a lot of problems with people, but the memebers at our church have been so careful not to bring their sick children to the nursery because they know it could hospitalize my son. We also live in a smoking free and pet free neighbhorhood (we had to move into a brand new house to help reduce his allergies) and all of our neighbhors are so good about providing appropriate snacks when we come to play. He is now almost 4 years old and it has been several months since we have had an episode. I don't know what to expect when he starts school, but I do know that I can continue to pray for his continued safety and health and for the understanding of the adults and children who surround him. I am sorry that you have not had as much kindness and understanding as I have - your frustration is certainly warranted.

Allergy Mum said...

So sorry. It really sucks being the parent of an allergy child and having to deal with those sorts of people. I understand and walk in your same shoes.
Allergy Mum - http://allergymum.blogspot.com/

Tee said...

Hello! I came across your blog while doing some research on food allergies. I quite enjoyed reading this post and look forward to reading more!

Maria said...

nice posting.Allergy

Jen H said...

I am a fellow food-allergy mom and totally understand and sympathize. These interactions can be so frustrating and hurtful, and it does make you feel like there are so many mean people out there.

Both of my girls avoid multiple foods, which makes it even more difficult. People are getting used to the idea of peanut-free, but they freak out if you ask them not to have dairy or egg ingredients around.

Jen
http://www.rylierowan.blogspot.com/

E.B said...

I am so sorry all these kids have to deal with this! I am 28 and have had allergies my whole life the worst ones are Soy, Dairy, Wheat, Yeast, and corn just for the big ones. I had to deal with people treating it as a joke my whole life and its just now getting a little better. People are cruel and think its funny to "test you" and say stuff like "your not allergic you just dont like it" I am so sick of people being ignorant to things happening in the world around them and thinking people would make up something like an allergy! As if we would submit ourselves the all that ridicule for fun. I am trying to educate people about allergies so when your kids (and mine when i have them) grow up maybe it will be easier on them. Good Luck and I hope your kids are lucky enough to grow out of the allergy =)

foodallergychronicles said...

My eldest son is 15 years old with multiple food allergies. It has been quite the journey thus far. I have learned many things along the way...one of which was getting to know the students in his class. Right from SK, the students in my son's class understood his food allergies. One girl in particular would change her clothes after lunch before coming to school if she had eaten peanut butter. She insisted a book on a boy with food allergies be read to the classroom. I believe that book created a bond with those students and my son. They have rallied for him throughout his entire grade school year. The parents may not of understood but I can tell you the kids sure did! Throughout both my son's grade school years I have done presentations on the signs and symptoms of food allergies and how to administer an epi pen. I send them off to highschool well prepared. Our children and their friends are the ticket to spreading the word...they are the future. Susan H. @ the food allergy chronicles