Congratulations, fellow families of loved ones with life threatening food allergies! We made it five whole days into 2015 before a major news outlet decided to include food allergies in a list of “what kids can’t do.”
Because, you know, having a food allergy (or multiple allergies) is such a choice.
Readers that have been around for a while may remember back when I wrote my letter to Pool Mom who was angry because she felt so strongly that her son should be able to eat nuts whenever and wherever no matter how it affected those around him because he loves them so much. On that day, I was heated, maybe a little angry (okay, a lot angry). I stated, “I’ll respond as gently as I can, recognizing that gentleness sometimes comes across a little too soft, so I likely will match your passion, maybe even surpass it. See, you’ll beat your drum as long as your kid is in school. I get that. But, I’ll be beating my drum even louder and longer. I’ll be beating my drum for the rest of my life.”
Today, I continue to beat that drum, but I have to wonder why? Why, in a world that is so set on tolerating Every. Single. Thing. Why can’t we be kind to those who don’t have a choice? Why do we have to categorize them as the Debbie Downers of all childhood fun?
To give you some context (in case you hadn’t heard), ABC News released a list of the Five Things That Kids Can’t Do Anymore. They are:
1. Sledding (choice, resulting in possible injury to self, maybe to another child if sledding together or not paying attention)
2. Trampolines (choice, resulting in possible injury to self, maybe to another child if jumping together or not paying attention)
3. Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Birthday Cakes (choice, resulting in possible reaction of another child, symptoms of a reaction could include—but are not limited to—hives, vomiting, seizures, loss of all bodily functions, loss of consciousness; this is most likely to lead to a stab in the leg with a needle carrying lifesaving medication, an ambulance ride, possible recovery, possible weeks in the ICU, or possible death—we don’t get to choose the outcome)
4. Snap Bracelets (really?)
5. Keeping Score (again, really?)
Two things I’ve noticed increasingly about our society:
We are dead set on crying out for tolerance. That is, unless it happens to affect us negatively. The cupcake wars? They are real. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that our inner circle does not partake in this negative behavior. Rather, we are intentional in asking questions to learn how to best support those in our community with challenges and disabilities.
We are increasingly selfish and entitled. What is best for self trumps the greater good. Always. Isn’t that kind of sad? I still wonder what brought this about, and when exactly this shift in thinking occurred. Inconveniencing ourselves for the good of the larger community is just no longer a thing.
I had hoped the 2015 would bring about a shift in thinking about our loved ones, but it appears we still have serious work to do.
If I had a chance to talk with the producers and ABC about this piece, this is what I would say:
Our children, our loved ones, are not out to ruin the party. If anything, they oftentimes understand at a greater level than most of us that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Carrying such knowledge in your mind, heart, and gut creates a deeper appreciation for the celebrations, bringing an even sweeter sense to every little experience, making every little experience a celebration.
When you lump my son’s life threatening allergies—which he was born with and has no choice in the matter—with “snap bracelets” I wonder about your journalistic tenacity. Could you really find nothing else to compare with those four things?
I would never wish food allergies on you, but I do sometimes wish you could walk a mile in my shoes. Come, join us for a day or two and see what life is like. Then report on that. Families like mine have been in the news enough lately, all for the reasons you mention; everything we “take away” from the rest of the poor “regular folks.” It gives us a bad name.
If you could see how we live life, both at home and within a loving, supportive community, showing what we give to rather than take from the community, you may not have a report that will spark outrage and draw page views, but you may gain a new respect for the very real people that you diminish with your words and negative reports.
This world has enough negativity. It’s time to put feet to the tolerance we so loudly shout about, and to put our selfishness on the shelf. We’d all be happier for it. Maybe even Pool Mom.