Friday, March 30, 2007

Disturbing Attitude

It's been very, very challenging keeping up with Knuckles' food allergies. It's really difficult to replace your entire pantry and learn new recipes, let alone find ones that the family will like as much as they liked the old ones. But probably the most disturbing thing about the adjustment has been people's attitudes toward it.

When I talk to people at church, family members, etc., and they find out Knuckles has all those allergies, they say "that's horrible!" Whatever, they can think it's horrible. But then they find out that I'm on his allergen-free diet too because I'm nursing, and that I'm converting the family over to allergen-free cuisine too, and the immediate response is "Well you could wean him, right, and then things would go back to normal."

It's true that once I wean him I'll be able to eat foods he's allergic to again, but what bothers me is this callous attitude toward Knuckles, like his food needs shouldn't be a drag on the rest of the family eating whatever they want. They talk about him like he's not even a person, just an annoying pet we could take to the pound when he gets to be too much trouble. We should all be able to go out and party, except for him, we should just leave him out. I can't stand that attitude. Knuckles is a part of my family. He can't help it that he has food allergies. All his life he's going to have to say "I can't eat that" everywhere he goes. Can't he have one place in the world where everything is safe for him to eat? Can't he feel accepted at his own family dinner table? How horrible would it be for him if even his own family put their desired foods ahead of his emotional needs? Do you think it's devastating for you to not eat pizza? How devastating would that be for him, to not only not be able to eat the pizza, but also know that his family doesn't support him because being able to eat pizza is just so much more important to them than he is?

It would be one thing if I only got this attitude from random people in the supermarket, but I'm getting it from family. FH, upon learning the magnitude of the list of things we'd have to cut out of Knuckles' diet, immediately said "Well I'm not giving up my..." and there followed a lengthy list of ingredients, dishes, and condiments that FH was not willing to give up eating at home for his own son's emotional well-being. And he stuck by that list, rather than using it as a stepping-stone toward acceptance of Knuckles' condition. He isn't even willing to eat those foods at work and not at home-- he insists on eating them at home, in front of everyone. Thankfully, my parents have been very accepting of Knuckles' needs. While they have no need to take their entire house allergen-free, they go out of their way to make sure that food cooked while we visit is allergen-free, even helping me develop substitutions and buying Knuckles special (and expensive) foods. Perhaps they have sympathy because my babiest brother is allergic to peanuts, so they've been through this before. But FH also has food allergies, and he doesn't seem to have any sympathy for Knuckles at all.

If it were the case that everything he had to eat tasted horrible, that would be one thing, but I have the skills to make it taste just as good, so why shouldn't we make the house allergen free?