I just read a Facebook post by a mother of a little boy whose friend has a peanut allergy. When her son was three he watched his friend go into anaphylactic shock. Thank goodness the child survived, and his class learned a very important lesson in empathy that day. Dairy was that child's allergen, and so dairy was no longer permitted in that classroom. No milk...no ice cream...no yogurt...nothing baked with milk...AND no one minded. These children wanted to help protect their friend.
Not everyone thinks this way. The author also told of the little boy whose nut allergy contributed to a nut free classroom. The children knew this and handled it well. It was a parent that was "inconvenienced" because she was told to remove the nut birthday cake she brought for her son's birthday celebration. When the teacher again patiently explained the situation to the mother, her response was one of annoyance. "Can't he just eat something else?" she snapped.
It is difficult to fully appreciate what a parent of an allergy stricken child goes through, but I can assure you that spending every day worrying about your child's ability to catch his/her breath is more "inconvenient" than replacing a nut cake that should never have been brought into a nut free environment. While both of my children faced allergy issues in their childhood, luckily they were not severe enough to require them to carry an epi-pen at all times. They did, however, have friends with serious food restrictions, and worrying about these children's problems ahead of their own desires helped build them into the empathetic adults who I admire.
Our society has become too "me" centered, with individual needs taking precedent over the good of many. Universal health care is an example of thinking of others instead of one- self. I thought long and hard about the repercussions of such a plan. We had been paying an exorbitant amount to cover our health care for as long as I could remember. I knew that my costs would probably remain the same or raise a bit, and my personal level of care might go down, because simple math told me that an influx of newly insured patients without an influx of new doctors meant longer waiting times and less attention. Hospitals would become over-crowded and specialists difficult to access, but in the end my vote was for some form of universal health plan, because the ability to pay should never determine whether a child (or adult for that matter) should live a healthy life.
Our schools are trying to encourage students to see beyond themselves. In most high schools community service hours are as necessary as credit hours in order to graduate. Students are encouraged to work in libraries, hospitals, or any other community organization that desperately needs help to accomplish their vital tasks. Yes, in order to raise happy, healthy children in our world today, it does take a village of family, friends and even strangers all pitching in and changing "me" centered to "we" centered, and teaching them to be kind in an often unkind world is our most important task.
Speaking of libraries, I read two books that you might want to check out this week. Fly Paper Soup - David Winter Mysteries by Cleve Sylcox is a light story about a Florida attorney and the "black widow" he is trying to defend.
A much deeper and more disturbing book is John Connolly's latest, Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller. Connolly begins with a terrifying two chapters and proceeds to introduce some of the most frightening characters in modern fiction. There is an eerie quality about this well written book that will capture your imagination as you race to the finish. Scary but truly exciting novel.
As always, complete reviews of these two books will follow this blog.