Thank you to The Goldfish and Lady Bracknell for allowing me to participate in Blogging Against Disablism Day. Thank you to Katherine's School District and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for classifying her as disabled so that I could participate.
[Whispered]"Is she still...you know?"
[Eye roll, head jerk directed at my daughter, whisper] "Is she still...allergic to dairy?"
[Normal tone] "Yep, Katherine is still allergic to dairy."
[Looking horrified at me for speaking so loudly with K. in the room] "Do they think she'll grow out of it?"
[Louder] "No one really knows."
[Head shake, whisper] "That must be so hard for you."
"No, Katherine can't eat that baked good/cracker/ice cream/pizza. We brought some of these snacks for her instead."
[Sympathetic head tilt] "This must be so hard for you, Sarah. [Adult-speaking-to-child squat] Katherine, I'm so sorry you can't have these delicious foods. You are so good to eat what you brought."
I don't want Katherine to think that her food allergy is something that needs to be spoken about in whispers or is something for just Mama to worry about. Her allergy is a fact of life, and she needs to know how to manage it for those times when I cannot be there. Also, while I am proud of her five-year-old self and how well she handles being in situations where there is no safe food for her, I don't think she needs to be treated as if she's making some big sacrifice. She is learning not to eat foods that could kill her. That does not deserve pity; it deserves admiration, respect, and support. As for me, keeping my daughter safe and healthy is not a chore; it is a privilege. I'm so glad this smart, strong girl is ours to care for.
I don't quite know where the next year will take us, what we will do if Katherine's school refuses to let us keep her EpiPen and Benadryl in the classroom. I don't quite know how I feel about allergen-free lunchroom tables (Safety or segregation? Or both?). I want her to be safe, and I want her to experience everything at school. I hope those wishes aren't mutually exclusive.