Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Social Responsibilty-the call to action

Most people who learn about our daughter's "condition" look at us with pity. They say "poor Sophia", "what do you all eat?", "how can you do anything", etc. It's an understatement to express how much I dislike that type of mindset. Our daughter is healthy, happy, and well-adjusted to her sense of self, compassion to others, and her young, but moral compass. Although her allergy presents a great number of obstacles, it's also a constant reminder of how precious our lives are. That really has been the greatest blessing for my family. We don't just go through the motions -we feel and connect our way through everything.  The fact of the matter is that Sophia's well-being is 100% dependent on the environments she is subjected to, and we all contribute to that. She is so so aware of this fact that she, her 4-year-old self, is conscientious to others needs in return.  People choose to think everything not about them is someone else's problem, but the truth is that we all play a role in each others lives.  I blogged in an earlier post about social responsibility, and this is where that concept comes into action.

My family doesn't go to pizzerias and ice cream shops and boast about keeping it safe for our milk allergic daughter. In fact, we don't go to ANY eateries of ANY kind, because the risk of a milk protein ingredient in anything is so high, that it is simply reckless for us to subject her to blatantly obvious dangers.  I would never take another person's word regarding something being "safe" because no one knows what milk is disguised as better than us, so there's no one out there for us to count on for answers--medical professionals included. In fact, we aren't trying to boast at all --just educate our needs and hope for others to modify their actions in return. This generation of parents of kids with food allergies really are the trail blazers. With all of this said, I'm not even talking about eateries--they're an obvious playground for danger, but what about the neutral ground? The playground, the pool, the parks---you know--the places we pay taxes to maintain, but are too often not able to. How difficult would it be to not allow food?  I have two toddlers. I know how they eat on the go,  but in social environments (that affect others) we can feed them THEN go.

These public "neutral" areas could all stand to benefit from a regular cleaning. I noticed my neighborhood has a timed sprinkle system every day. It would be great if it included the playground equipment (and had a biodegradable soaping solution to clean the stuff.) Not only would it clean the milk, but the flu germs, and bugs and spiders that live on everything. My daughter is touch-allergic so for her just touching the slide after a child with a 'Gogurt' can send her into anaphylaxis. My daughter thinks that rain is "God cleaning the Earth". Just as baptism washes away sin, rain washes away the dangers left over from yesterday. I do believe all mother nature is an act of God, but Sophia believes this because after it rains is when we go to the playgrounds. It's the cleanest they ever are for us, so we bring a towel to dry the slides and rush to the fun. She thinks God rains for her, and I think sometimes she's right. Every time it rains now I immediately think "thank-you God."

Just as becoming a parent changes your life, battling a food allergy shapes your life. As parents we are all teachers. We teach our children how to view the world. We place emphasis on scholastic education in a big way, but in a bigger way we are role models. Our behavior is mimicked and modeled and becomes the moral blueprint for our children. The way we interact with each other, and the outside world, teaches the fundamental principles of our children's characters. We teach patience. We teach kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and humility. These are all virtues that are taught when we don't even realize it. In the often awkward social environments that come with food allergies, our teaching platforms are endless. We are judged, let-down, treated unkindly, and ridiculed. We can teach our children how to articulate and advocate their needs by the way we do it for them now. Our families struggle's can help others down the line. Sophia's life is bigger than just her, it's a lesson of love, sacrifice, and faith. Don't place pity on our lives because of the challenges we are faced with. I assure you that the blessings we have received are more bountiful. Know that we are growing with a purpose and we have the greatest blessing of all--full hearts.

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