So the other day I am at a grocery store (which shall remain nameless) and it just happened to be Sample Saturday. Now, 5 years ago, this would have been my favorite day to shop. Who doesn’t love to try free samples of food? Fast forward to 2013 and I normally refuse to go to the store on any given Saturday just to avoid the samples. Especially if my son is with me. Try explaining to a three year old that he can’t have something every time you pass by a stand with a cute old lady offering a sample. You don’t know what is in the food. You don’t know what she has touched that could have potential for possible cross-contamination. It is just best to avoid.
WELL…Here is the problem I faced when I went to the nameless grocery store. I was running short on soymilk and needed to grab a few other things. I had my little munchkin with me. And there were 100 cute old ladies present passing out samples in every direction. What to do? On this particular Saturday, I guess there was really no by-passing. I nicely said "No thank you” to each person offering some delicious little spinach artichoke tart or slice of pizza. Until we got to this one lady. I swear I cannot believe I remained as calm as I did and did not go off after this: The lady offered my little guy a sample of a pop tart that was some peanut butter chocolate concoction. I nicely told her that he has a peanut allergy among others so he can’t have it, and nicely said “Thank you”. She looked straight at me and said “It won’t kill him. Come on, let him have a bite”. OH. MY. GOOD. GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I probably should have remained silent and walked away…but she caught me off guard, so I quickly remarked “You really should do yourself and society a favor and become educated”. Not one of my proudest moments, but eh? I could have handled it better, but I also know myself, and was quite surprised I didn’t handle it worse.
My other favorite type of “jerk” is the one who tells you that “Just because your child is allergic to a food doesn’t give you the right to inconvenience my child’s diet”. GET REAL PEOPLE!!!!!! I assure you, no one is trying to inconvenience anyone. We are all just trying to keep our kids alive, healthy, and safe. Sorry that your kid can’t bring Reese’s Peanut Butter cups to a school party. Keep them at home. They can have them for an after school snack. I am positive that person would feel differently if their child had some other safety concern that I deemed unnecessary and mocked.
So how do you handle the “jerks”? Are they really “jerks” or are they just uneducated about food allergies? How do we make those who are unaware, more aware? How do we get the word out there? How do you conduct yourself in a way when you encounter said “jerks” where you remain calm and courteous? How do you deal with people whom you have personally informed of various food allergies that still refuse to accept that your child has a condition that you can’t make go away and won’t get better until there is a cure, and who still think you are being overly dramatic all because you are trying to prevent a potential fatality?
I have personally found that there are some people who just don’t get it and never will. They try to make you feel bad for protecting your child. They try to make you look like this crazy, overprotective parent who chooses to make unnecessary restrictions. I honestly feel extremely sorry for people who are so uneducated. No one would enforce these extreme restrictions if they were not necessary. No parent would deny their child otherwise healthy foods if there weren’t severe consequences to eating those foods. NO PARENT wants to see their child live life this way!!!!!!! This is not a lifestyle choice, this is a matter of life and death!
I think there are a lot of people who don't understand food allergies. Before my little ray of sunshine was diagnosed, I was one of those people. With the growing epidemic at hand, it's not something that we as society can afford to be ignorant about. We have to make ourselves and others aware.
I think the real problem with society is that we have all forgotten how to be kind to one another. So I am pledging to start being nicer, and next time I see the lady I was snarky to at the grocery store, I am going to apologize for being so quick to reply.