Typical conversation between parents of children with food allergies:
“Mom #1- I always feel bad about my daughter not being able to have the bday snacks that are brought into school because of her allergies and found a great solution- I’ve made a cupcake for her even better than what everyone else has. I was so excited when my daughter said everyone else was jealous for a change.
Mom #2- Completely with you. I’ve been doing that for years. The other kids in my son’s class only wish that they had the snacks he did.
Mom #3- Absolutely- It’s enough already with our kids being left out. I don’t even understand why schools allow food. I’m always sending in the best cupcakes.”
This just made me think… and take pen to paper.
So… where do I begin? What did we do? We had a box of chocolates in my son’s classroom and whenever there was a celebration with food- he had his chocolates. Sometimes, it was better than what everyone else had. Sometimes it was worse. Sometimes other parents went out of their way to bring something special for my son. Sometimes they didn’t.
Jealousy never crossed my mind. Demanding that my child be like others never entered the picture. What we did was celebrate what he could eat. We focused on what he could have. He learned at a young age that people are different and have different things. Not everyone is the same and that is absolutely okay.
It seems counterintuitive but wanting everyone to accommodate our children’s allergies and working to make our child like others is actually extremely intolerant of us. We are not celebrating uniqueness and differences. We are actually valuing conformity and uniformity.
It is painful as parents to see our children not enjoying the things that we enjoyed but we need to realize that our children are not us. And to the moms out there who go out of their way to do extra for their kids- you are all amazing and are doing the right thing. Not everyone cares or has the emotional energy to even be a part of an allergy group. It’s about how we frame and talk about what we do for our children. We make that cupcake because we care for our children to have joy not so that they be like everyone else.
The reality is that our children have their own paths to travel- their joys will be different than ours. All we can do as parents for our children is give them a value system to be upstanding citizens. Jealousy and conformity are not values we want to transmit. Let’s teach our children tolerance by starting with them and showing them in their daily lives, that differences – even when difficult – are to be celebrated.
Interested In Any of Haleh Resnicks Books?Click Here