Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It Takes A Village

When it comes to kids, we've been pretty lucky. A beautiful, healthy little boy and a beautiful, healthy little girl. And I'll admit, when my oldest first started in school and they put a peanut butter ban into effect at the school to make it safer for those with allergies, I had a moment where I thought about how hard it would be to find something else for my son to eat, since he mainly lived on PB&J sandwiches.

Then I thought, seriously? I'm going to complain that it will "be hard" to find an alternative? I wanted to slap myself for the selfishness, because let's be honest: finding a replacement food is nowhere near the level of "hard" that it must be for parents of children with allergies to send their kids to school every single day, worried about if something is going to cause their children to have a reaction.

The school made it pretty easy. There was a list of snacks and of course fruits that could be brought in for snack. Lots of safe options to choose from. I'm sure there was some complaining but quite frankly, I don't believe that a child's need for peanut butter or any other food is stronger than the danger that some children face while just trying to safely attend classes.

Recently, I heard a muttering. "It's so stupid that the kids cannot bring peanut butter to school. Maybe those allergy kids should be homeschooled."

Really? Wow. Is this where we're at in 2016? 

Not eating peanut butter during the school day (p.s. there's plenty of time to eat that at home every day) is hardly a detriment. Yes, it takes a couple extra minutes to read packaging and determine if something was made in a peanut free facility. Why is it such a big deal? I wonder when, as a society, we lost compassion and empathy for others. Do we, as parents, not remember those first few nights (followed by weeks and months and years) and all the worries about how we would do anything to keep our children from harm? Why is that not extended to the children around us, too, who aren't a member of our family? We are all a community. When did we forget that? When did we become so absorbed in entitled-ness that we simply lost the notion that we should treat everyone how we would like to be treated?

This all really hit home for me one night a few weeks ago. While I'm packing lunches - and bossing kids around mom-style to do their homework, practice the drums, pack their baseball and dance bags - my son starts to help with packing his. He's being very particular about what he packs and reading labels. Curious, I asked him what he was up to. (He'd mentioned the week before that he wanted to save up for a Fitbit, so I was wondering if my gradeschooler was trying to eat healthier, too.) He said that the tables in his classroom had changed and now two of his good friends sat at his table. These two good friends, I should mention, both have peanut allergies. Severe peanut allergies.

He said he wanted to make sure that NOTHING (and yes, he stressed the nothing) he had in his lunch - or for breakfast - could hurt his friends. I watched this ten-year-old peruse the label of every single thing he put in that lunch box for the simple fact that he wanted his friends to be safe.

A ten-year-old. This kid pictured right here (with the cute dimples and sweet smile, might I add). This kid who, at ten, has a clearer grasp on compassion than some adults I've met (including myself at times!).

Now I know we're all busy in life. Stay-at-home parents and working parents both have extremely stressful and time-consuming jobs in addition to all the daily requirements of running a household and school work and activities and so on. But when without thinking of it as a burden, a ten-year-old can read labels and pack a lunch that is safe to have around his classmates, I think it serves as a reminder to us adults that there are always those couple extra minutes it takes to do the same. 

When I asked him later on why he was so concerned about packing that lunch, he replied with, "Mom, I wouldn't throw a rock at my friend so why would I do something else that could hurt them?"

Exactly. It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes, I think we forget about that.


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