Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inclusion and Food Allergies: How Far Is Too Far?

I enjoy hanging out on Reddit. It feels a little like going to a teenager zoo and I consider it an important study tool in the quest to understand my own teens. Yes, there are other people there who are 40+, but for the most part, Reddit is a collection of teens and 20-somethings with too much time on their hands and often a Lord of the Flies mentality.

So I was not all that surprised to run across this one:

The original poster went on to say:
I was the only one in the neighborhood giving out small goodie bags of bite size butterfingers, recesses peanut butter cups,starbursts and other assorted chocolates during halloween. This woman comes back to my house and got angry at me for giving her son candy with peanut butter in it. He ate some and he was having an allergic reaction. How the hell am i suppose to know what her son is allergic to. It wouldn't kill her to be a good parent and monitor what her kid eats instead of blaming me.
I read through some of the almost 2000 comments, trying to keep my anger in check. The oldie but goodies were all there:

"if touching a nut kills you, you’re supposed to die"

"I went to elementary school in the 1960's. I don't remember anyone having any issue at all with foods."

"Your niece might need to be homeschooled..."

Don't get me wrong: I think the mom who did this made a big mistake. I do understand; in the panic of the moment, I have done some crazy things, including calling a food manufacturer in the middle of a reaction to ask about the ingredients.  But suddenly, I had a small moment of insight of how that Roma family in Ireland might have felt after the police took away their child because she looked too blond to really belong to them. Just because one person in your community does something questionable, does that make it o.k. for the rest of society to pour out their hate on all members? Where does all this hate come from?

No, it's not o.k. that the mom blamed the neighbor for her child's reaction. But it's really not o.k. that so many people are willing to jump on the hate bandwagon as a result.

My Reddit comments to that effect were just drops in the ocean, and I suspect a larger response would only make us look crazy. What is the answer? How do we combat this prejudice without seeming over-reactive?

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  1. Oh, I have been there too many times on Reddit! My son saw this meme and pointed it out to me, and I had pretty much the same reaction as you--it's obvious that there are bad allergy parenting moments abound, but the hate bandwagon is so hard to watch as it rambles on by.The only way we have to combat it is to be the fine examples we already are, parents who openly admit to sometimes making mistakes, who are willing to engage in sensible conversations, and who teach our allergic children not only to take responsibility for food choices, but also to take care with who they trust. The world is a cruel place, not just to allergy kids. The tug of war exists over all sorts of issues "Let the imperfect die!" has always been an easy attitude to adopt, it hurts to hear it. I can only imagine how hard it is going to be for my daughter when it is her turn to watch that hate wagon rolling past.

  2. This is why I want to homeschool my children- I don't want them dealing with the inevidable bullying that will occur. Yes, i know I can't protect them totally. Bullying is horrible, when its like, what the kid is wearing or what they like to read/watch on tv etc, but bullying a child for a medical condition that they can't help? That's like, a special kind of evil.

    I suppose though, i'm lucky in a way. My eldest at 3 1/2 is VERY vocal about his food allergies and VERY defensive of his younger sister. "Does that have milk in it? My sister Zeezee cannot have it then! If she eats it , mama will have to use the epi-pen on her. Do you have something else she can eat? "

    And what I don't understand is, its not "imperfection" or "evolution" no. I honestly believe something that we don't KNOW that we're eating or some additive or something environmental is causing the high incidences of food allergies. And what some of these jerks don't realize is that anyone can develop food allergies at ANY TIME.

  3. Its human beings-it goes along the same vein as racism, homophobia ,class systems etc, if there is a way for ignorant people to feel better or superior to someone else they will hold on to that idea. We just have to keep our kids safe, give them knowledge and tools to do so and try not to be that crazy lady/man that allergy parents are seen as. It is very cool at the moment to joke about allergies, and it hurts that people are joking about my son dying. But I try and change each person as I meet them that is ignorant of allergies as I do of rascist people etc.


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