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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apparently She’s Just Inconvenient

Seems like some folks in Edgewater, Florida need a lesson in acceptance.

According to this article, there is a six year old little girl whose presence at  school is no longer desired by some of her classmates’ parents. 

Is it because she’s violent?   Nope.

Is it because she brings drugs to school?  Nope.

Is it because she is so severely allergic to peanuts that she is considered legally disabled by the Americans with Disabilities Act?  Yep.

Apparently, all of that extra hand washing and mouth rinsing that students have to “endure” on a daily basis is a bit inconvenient for some (God forbid a bunch of germ-ridden elementary kids wash their hands a few extra times each day).  Their solution?  Remove the problem (her) and have her home-schooled.  

Of course!  What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t we think of that?  In fact, we should go to every school in America and remove every child that requires some sort of “special” attention or accommodation because let’s face it, they’re so inconvenient.

You know what really burns me about this though?  It’s that these are the parents who are raising the next generation of children who will end up becoming a bunch of intolerant, ignorant, #$$%’s when they grow up. 

A few years ago I had a student who had the same kind of allergy as this little girl.  We kept an EpiPen in the classroom (out of reach of curious hands) and the office, and trained the staff how to use it.  The students washed their hands when they came to school each morning, ate at the designated “peanut” table during snack and lunch if they brought food from home that could potentially cause a reaction, and then washed their hands again upon returning to the classroom.

And you know what? Here’s what happened:

1.  We had the healthiest school year ever.

2.  My student with the allergy was able to enjoy coming to school, a right ALL children should be given.

3.  The entire student body learned fundamental lessons in acceptance, compassion, and a sense of responsibility not only to themselves, but to their community and fellow human beings as well (sounds like some of these Edgewater parents could learn a thing or two from them).

And here’s what didn’t happen:

1. No one suffered from some sort of “extra hand washing nervous breakdown.”

2. No one complained.

3. No one felt like they weren’t welcome or didn’t belong because they were different in some way.

4. No one realized that they could and should be resentful of my student because no one taught them that.

So to you, Chris Burr, father of two kids who attend the same school as the young girl at the center of this ridiculous drama, I say this:

It’s easy for you to sit there and pompously proclaim that “If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life,” because luckily you DON’T have a child with a problem, and if God forbid you did, you have no IDEA the lengths you would go to to give her the highest quality of life possible. You see, it’s that darn IF that gets in the way of that logic.  Because IF I had a million dollars I would not drive a used station wagon Volvo, and IF I were a size 4 I would not wear drawstring pants on date night and IF I  had a magic wand I would wave it all around and turn people like you into kinder, gentler, more accepting human beings who realize that parents like us - who DO have children with problems - aren’t looking to turn the world upside down with our “ridiculous” demands; we’re just looking for it to bend at the knees a little and meet us halfway.

 

 

*If you haven’t checked it out already, I write a column for The Orange County Register, “This Modified Life, here.  Come by and visit!

4 comments:

Britton Minor said...

Brilliantly written, as usual Jo...and you even sprinkled a little humor on top of this wake-up call. I wish every intolerant parent would read this!!

dsimple said...

I have a daughter with a severe life-threatening peanut allergy so I can relate so well to this blog post. Believe it or not, we had to stop attending a church in town because they were always having potlucks and even when the pastor announced from the pulpit (numerous times!) about the need to NOT bring anything with peanuts, people still brought their peanut stuff. A couple of them even told me, "It's not my problem, it's yours. Stay home when there are potlucks and don't be an inconvenience to everyone else." Welcoming? Hardly. Loving? Not one bit. And they wonder why their church died? LOL!

hbmommyg said...

I was listening to Handle on the Law over the weekend. This woman called and said that there was a girl in her daughter’s class who had a peanut allergy. They had asked that the kids not bring PBJ’s but “they couldn’t make it law or anything” so after a few weeks she started sending her daughter to school with her ‘favorite lunch’. After 3 weeks someone figured it out (thank God not the child with the allergy!) and now her daughter was being forced to eat her lunch in the principals office. She asked Bill if she had a case against the school. I swear, I would have thought it was a joke if I hadn’t heard the annoyance in her voice. Bill RIPPED her up, telling her that her absolutly not she had no case against the school (should have heard the but wwwhhhyyy noootttt whine that followed that – nails on a chalkboard!) because her daughter had a CHOICE of what to bring for lunch but the other child did not have a CHOICE if she was going to DIE. Of all the self centered.....then she went on to say that (and I swear this is true) “What if there was a child with Aspergers and he can’t see the color red or he freaks out. Does EVERYONE have to never wear red again?” They walk among us and they breed......

Jo said...

Thank you everyone for your insightful and kind comments! Some people need a swift kick in the rear, right?!