You Don't Have to Like Me or My Kid (and His Food Allergies)
Tonight is meet the teacher night at my son’s school.
Every year, parents all over the world worry whether their child’s teacher will be good for him or her, or not. I, and millions of parents like me, worry perhaps a little more than the average parent because my son has sensitivities to various foods.
My stomach is in knots.
While it’s true that nobody has to like my kid or me, he is a child, and he deserves to be treated with respect and equality and to have adults not contribute in any way to his feelings of being less than or singled-out or bullied.
Here are TEN THINGS I’D LIKE MY SON’S TEACHER TO REMEMBER:
1) My son didn’t choose or cause his food allergies.
2) My son has sisters, brothers-in-law, a mother, a father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who love him and think he’s amazing.
3) My son doesn’t need his teacher (with whom he spends most of his waking hours every weekday, September through May) of all people to introduce him to any ideas to the contrary, or to allow his fellow classroom citizens to do so. It happens enough on the no-man’s-land of the playground.
4) My son won’t drop dead from exposure to the tiniest breath of certain foods, but I know people who will. It isn’t your job to roll your eyes, to believe it or not, to second guess the parents or to judge those kids that may, or how fast or how much it would take. It is your job to take it seriously and to do your best to keep those children safe while they are in your care. If only because, unless you are a sociopath, the alternative would mean your life would never be the same.
5) My son won’t drop dead, but the wrong foods will cause his behavior to morph into something that would, at a minimum be distracting, at a maximum be destructive to his own and your other students’ ability to learn. Trust me on this.
6) My son doesn’t deserve to have his heart broken because the rest of the class gets to have a birthday treat or a pizza party. I am an adult, and there are times I still feel left out. Please try to find ways other than food to celebrate all of your students’ successes.
7) When necessary, please help empower my son to be responsible to bring in his own treat. Please provide a birthday/celebration calendar, email me, or give him a reliable way to make a note in his planner in advance. If there’s a surprise, please ask him to call me so that I may have the opportunity to provide him with a way to feel included if I am able. If there is no way to do any of these things, please be understanding and caring.
8) My son didn’t choose or cause the way his brain works, which is creative and magical and inquisitive and funny and brilliant, even if it’s in ways that others see as different.
9) You are the grown up. You lead the mob. You set the tone for what is acceptable in your classroom and far beyond. Feel some responsibility for doing that in positive ways, and I will teach my son that it is his responsibility to respect you and his classmates, to communicate, and to be the very best learner and classroom citizen he can be.
10) My son may not be athletic or particularly good at a sport you appreciate, but he ROCKS at other things, and he fills my life with joy and immeasurable blessings.
Just like the last two he was blessed to have, please be a teacher he will always remember for doing that in his life.
Please visit the rest of this post for a link to a terrific children's book I was lucky enough to review about school and food allergies: http://www.glutennazimom.org/1/post/2013/08/you-dont-have-to-like-me-or-my-kid-and-his-food-allergies.html