When I began this journey of living with food allergies, I never in a million years thought it would lead me down a road of advocacy and controversy. I never thought I would need to educate and raise awareness as much as I’ve had to over the years. Like so many of you, I quickly realized that talking about food allergies often led to misunderstandings and strong opinions.
I had no idea the amount of opposition I’d face in trying to minimize (not eliminate) the amount of sugary and full-o-allergens treats that were served on a monthly basis at my childrens’ schools. I had no idea that making a Peanut Free Zone at a Cubs game last summer would draw the national headlines it did, and all the negative and truly cruel comments that came with it. I had no idea that asking for a flight to be nut free so my family (and other nut allergic families) could fly safely would compromise the rights of other passengers who just had to have their nuts on board a flight. I had no idea I would ever have to read in a paper that a sweet, young 13-year-old girl would have to die of anaphylaxis because no food allergy policy was in place for her at her school.
I have always tried to look at the rights of everyone involved, not just my child’s. I have always tried to be fair and balanced in my views. I don’t aim to be righteous or militant about my views on food allergy policy, but I do aim to have a logical discussion based on common sense. So when I get a comment on my blog like this one:
“I have to say that peanuts or any food should not be banned in any way. These allergy sufferers need to manage their problem. If you can’t manage it, then don’t fly! It certainly won’t stop me from cracking open a bag of nuts on a plane whether they serve it or not.” comment from foodallergymama.com reader in response to “Should We Ban Peanuts On Airplanes?”
I have to wonder about what we’re really fighting for here. Is it the rights of food allergic persons, (because last time I checked they have rights too), or is it simply fighting for the right to be “right”? There’s no logic in saying my son shouldn’t fly on a plane because we “can’t manage” our food allergy problem. Turn the mirror around, look at yourself, and say that statement again. Are you really that passionate about a bag of nuts? Or are you just up for an argument based on zero logic?
My son is doing a school project on who they admire. As a 3rd grader, I thought he’d choose a famous sports player. Instead, he choose to study the life of Martin Luther King. Why? He told me MLK fought for equal rights through his words, not his fists. He also said MLK wasn’t a bully, because all he wanted to do was help everyone have the same rights. We talked about how people with food allergies should have the same rights as anyone else; they should be able to eat out at restaurants, attend school and not be told they should be home schooled, be included in parties, play dates and camps and not told they have to eat alone separately, and also be allowed to fly safely without people telling them not to, because they can’t manage their allergies.
My 3rd grader showed more class and grace in his perspective than many adults I’ve talked to about this issue. Of course, he comes from a different perspective than most because he HAS been bullied, told to sit elsewhere and alone, and simply not included in things. Yet he doesn’t want to fight or have an argument about his food allergies, he just wants to feel included and like any other kid.
We’ll continue our path on peaceful education and awareness about the rights of those with food allergies. And thank you to the person who made the above mentioned comment on my blog; you’ve only inspired and motivated me to work harder.