Being an “allergy mom” and a teacher, there is something that never ceases to surprise me: children have a more compassionate and empathetic heart when it comes to Food Allergies.
It’s been 3 years since Penny started going to school. Some people don’t understand why the school she goes to is nut free, and dairy free for her class. On the other hand, since day one, children at Penny’s school have listened and understood that some food items can make Penny sick. I’ve heard them talk amongst each other about their food trying to make sure that the meal they brought won’t give her a reaction. Of course, the teachers always make sure that the environment is safe, but if the children, by any chance, have any doubts about their food, they are very vocal about it and look for alternatives. All of this to keep their friend safe. Her best friend is always trying to make sure she brings “safe food” to school. According to her sitter, every day, before going to school, she brushes her teeth really well and washes her hands because “I don’t want to make Penny sick”. Last year, for her birthday celebration, Penny’s BFF was bringing a chocolate fondue to share with her friends. Well, guess what? She told her mom that she needed to make Penny a dairy & nut free chocolate fondue. It was only fair, in her eyes. This made me tear up. Penny was not only able to happily celebrate her BFF’s birthday but was also able to enjoy the delicious treat. See? Is it that hard? Yes, sometimes we have to go out of our way to make these accommodations, but isn’t it worth it? Don’t we accommodate other people’s disabilities without a problem? When is it that empathy escapes our lives? When is it that we stop caring about the well-being of others?
Like I’ve said before, empathy plays a big role in our lives, not only because Penny has Food Allergies, but also because her brother has Sensory Differences, which means that his brain has a difficult time processing everyday sensory information. Sometimes my life feels like a rollercoaster, but there are so many positive things that this rollercoaster has taught us: we embrace and accept the differences, we try to understand others, we try to leave judgement out of our lives, and we are more conscious of the frailty of our existence, and the beauty of life’s imperfections.