I haven’t blogged about food allergies lately, so it’s time. Luckily the other day, a great post popped up in Google Reader, with a striking headline: We Have Come Too Far To Forget, Separate Is Not Equal
I happen to consider the author Thanita a Twitter friend, and a proud member of the #FoodAllergyMomArmy. It’s got a great message. Obviously the first thing it brings to mind is racism, but it can now be applied to any group facing discrimination.
As I’ve said before… I’d like to see any changes brought forth from a consumer side of view, not a legislative one. When we’re dealing with schools, parents really need to get involved and not just the parents of the food-allergic children. Legislation in this area may be the best answer as far as schools are concerned. After all, it’s a gub’ment institution, right? (Things like the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act are extremely important to protect food-allergic kids, as well as any that may have reactions to thinks like latex or bee stings. Pennsylvania now seems like it’s on top of things.)
All in all, some earnest thinking about the whole thing will bring forth a hopefully easy decision:
When other parents tell the family of the anaphylactic child to just “home-school, it’s safer, we’re looking out for your best interest”, it’s a joke. Separate Is Not Equal.
When a child is forced to peer over a sea of smiling, laughing, socializing children, all the while sitting on a separate table alone, “for his/her safety”, it’s Separate and Not Equal.
We have to ask ourselves, how far have WE come since the 1950’s? Would we be doing this to a child with autism? To a child in a wheelchair? To a child with dark skin? If the answer is never, then do not do it to a child with an anaphylactic disability.
Think about that. There’s a lot of buzz about bullying lately, & it certainly falls on food-allergic kids. For an example, read this awesome article by another #FoodAllergyMomArmy member and cool Twitter friend Libby about bullying: Bullies, Food Allergies and The Force
This is heavy:
By the way, just one mistake can be fatal. Have I mentioned the shocking levels of stress in parents of children with food allergies?
So this morning I dressed my son in one of his Star Wars t-shirts and talked to him about Katie and how it’s ok to be different and not ok to tease or bully someone else. I packed an allergen free lunch, gave him hugs and kisses, told him I loved him and sent him off to school with a prayer that he would come home safely, something I never take for granted.
To the kids with food allergies and their parents, may the force be with you. You’re going to need it.
One mistake can be fatal. Let’s all help make sure it doesn’t come to that. These food allergy moms & dads (& brothers & sisters, etc.) are badass, I tell you. It takes courage to muster up the confidence to put together a safe plan for your kid(s), and to be strong for them when you probably just want to break down & cry about it yourself sometimes.
It’s up to all of you reading to inform schools, restaurants, and everyone that you’re not going to exclude yourself or your kids from society or live in fear from your food allergy. It’s up to you to be ever-vigilant and cautious, but it’s all so up to you to not back down or let your kids be ostracized for being different.
Now, where can I get an Epi-pen case that looks like a lightsaber?