Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sometimes food allergies and restrictions seem so much a part of my life, I'm surprised to remember that not everyone deals with them every single day.  Not everyone comprehends the reality of true allergies.  And some people still tend to shock and sadden me.  Stories like the Florida protesters, parents who don't want their children to spend time washing their hands and rinsing out their mouths at school to keep a fellow schoolchild safe. 
Some kids have mild allergies.  The symptoms are uncomfortable, and they avoid them to varying degrees...depending on the parent and their understanding and ability to conform.  Others have severe allergies.  Their parents have watched eyes and lips swell; held blue children in their arms and listened to sirens wailing, acknowledging deep inside that this time it might really by it...all the while hoping, praying, holding their own breath that the epi pen kicks in and they make it to the hospital.  And out again. 

Of course those parents would want to keep their child in a bubble.  Protect them, lock them up like Rapunzel in a tower.  But that isn't realistic.  We have to live with food allergies, our kids have to LIVE with food allergies.  And it gets easier as they get older and everyone under the sun doesn't try and offer treats to them.  Or treat them as rude and inconsiderate if they say "no thank you" to a cookie.  But in elementary school, kids are really at the mercy of the adults around them.  And sometimes, those adults need extreme measures to keep themselves on task.  "Our kids have rights, too!" the protest signs read. 

I've seen the case debated and both sides say "If you don't like it, homeschool!"  The difference is, the allergic child either needs the accommodations or can't safely attend school.  It's perfectly safe for the ones objecting to the rules to attend.  They just have to follow the necessary guidelines. 

I have to wonder what the kids are learning.  Respect for the needs of others, or resentment for those who are different? 
I'm grateful we aren't anaphylactic.  And saddened by the actions of those who don't want to accommodate someone who is. 

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