Monday, December 17, 2007

A little bit of Sympathy

My daughter is 9. She's allergic to dairy. It's not serious, but its uncomfortable and her suffering seems lengthy, so we avoid dairy like the plague. She's also allergic to blue dye (Well, not technically, but it gives her a migraine) so there are few "regular" treats that she enjoys.

Last week she told me that school was unfair, and she hates parties. Apparently, they regularly serve popcorn for treats, there have been birthday parties she couldn't participate in, and now a pizza party was being planned.

For the first time ever, she's feeling isolated in school. My heart bled for her, as I asked what she needed.

I reminded her the teacher knows about her allergy. She nodded.

I reminded her, gently, that we couldn't ask them to provide safe treats for her, specifically. I don't trust them to label read. She knows, she says, she doesn't care, really.

I told her we couldn't ask them to stop having parties, and she told me I was crazy, she doesn't want them to stop having parties, either. (This, I admit, confused me since she hates parties)

I asked about sending a safe treat for her to keep on hand. She shook her head.

I held her for awhile, just trying to comfort her. And then she looked up at me, tears glistening in her eyes.

"I just want the teacher to know, mom, I want her to know I have a dairy allergy. And I want her to say 'I'm sorry, you can't have this tomorrow, but maybe you can bring your own treat.' Then I'd feel better."

Just a few words of sympathy, acknowledgment. Its often forgotten in our rush, in our knowledge that people understand a situation is unfair. And yet, somehow, it can go a long ways towards lightening a burden.

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