There’s a quote attributed to Maya Angelou that goes something like this: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” It resonates with me because it’s my goal to never stop learning, to never stop doing better, to always seek to improve and expand my knowledge. That’s not to say I’m aiming for sainthood, because, really? I just don’t like everyone or everything. But what it means to me is that I do my best with my knowledge, and when I learn more, I try to do better. Does that make sense?
A specific example of this is my attitude around food allergies. I’m the allergy blogger for the Yummy Mummy Club, and I got that job because we’ve been through the ringer with my son’s food allergies. The first 18 months of his life were brutal, to be honest. It was scary, frustrating, unnerving, humbling and awful dealing with his symptoms and allergy diagnoses. But before then? I admit to being less than sympathetic to people with food allergies. I really didn’t understand them at all. Let’s just say I’ve been schooled. Oh, have I ever been schooled.
A blogger recently wrote a letter to parents who complain about food restrictions in schools, and I posted it over on my YMC blog because I felt many of the points were fantastic. The response from readers was mixed. It surprised me because I was suddenly being accused of being a bully, and of being on my “high horse” expecting the world to protect my child. My response to those negative comments was in a post entitled Tell Me Again Why My Child’s Life Doesn’t Matter. It’s still being read a month after posting, and the debate is still on.
I’ve since learned about kids with sensory issues, for whom peanut butter is one of their only options, and I’ve amended my views a little. I mean, that’s truly awful and so frustrating to deal with. That’s beyond dealing with food preferences, those are issues that cannot be controlled any more than my son’s allergies. But you know what? The parents of those children are sympathetic to my kid’s needs. They’re the ones saying they’ll do anything to accommodate allergies. They’re the ones empathizing with our frustrations.
It’s the parents whose kids just don’t feel like eating anything but peanut butter who are enraged. It’s the ones questioning why the majority should have to accommodate the minority. The ones saying they’d send peanut butter to school to spite “bullies” like me.
And this makes me so incredibly sad for our world. You would really threaten the life of a child over this? Over a sandwich? I would have hoped that instead, you’d have an intelligent dialogue with people who deal with these threats in order to learn, to grow, to empathize and do better. Like I am trying to do with people who really, really, super badly want to send peanuts to schools.
But what do I know? I’m just a bully sitting up here on my high horse hoping today isn’t the day my child dies.