“11 rules your kids did not and will not learn in school” is what the photo stated that I saw on Facebook the other day. In the corner was a picture of Bill Gates with a note stating, “wishing you a fantastic 2012!” The truth is that Bill Gates did not write these rules and they were written by Charles Sykes in his book, “Dumbing Down Our Kids”. No matter, the rules struck a chord for me. They basically shouted out to me, “quit being so entitled and just work hard.” Immediately, I had a flash of my food allergic children with ‘special needs’. I never think of them in term of “special needs”, but the truth is that they do have special needs in regards to their environment and they have grown up “being special” which has worried me that the word entitled would get confused with the words special needs.
My son quickly become accustomed to choosing our restaurants when eating out since it all depended on whether or not safe food was available. Eventually, he thought this is how the world worked up until recently when he had to eat a restaurant not of his choice, but still safe never-the-less. He was not happy and was actually rude about it. “Entitled!” I grumbled to myself as he lost video game privileges and enjoyed a mommy lecture. Somewhere along the line, entitled got mixed up with special needs. Somehow, my little teenage prince thought that he should dictate where we eat, safe or not–it somehow became his food allergy right to decide where we eat at all times.
Somewhere in all those meetings with teachers, administrators, parents, coaches and camp personnel as we jockeyed around procedures and policy my son became “entitled” to special treatment. Instead, I thought I was teaching him to be grateful for folks trying to meet his basic survival needs. When we later discussed his rude behavior did we both realize that he was so used to folks being so incredibly kind that he basically “forgot” to be grateful and began to feel entitled to special treatment unconsciously. UGH. Yet again, another parenting moment in which my mother of the year award was pushed out farther from my reach.
The fine line between grateful/appreciative and entitled was blurred and dumped in the same bucket with one of our culture’s current challenges of how NOT to raise entitled children in a society that provides so much. Yes, economic times are tough now, but even in tough times, we live a wonderful country where all children are entitled to an eduction and anyone can walk into an Emergency Room and received help. In Youngme Moon’s book, “Different“, she makes a comment about the hedonic treadmill by stating, “the term was dead on in describing the human predisposition to feel entitled today what we used to feel thankful for yesterday.” I agree. What made me so thankful in the past I now expect and demand. I do demand a safe environment for my child to learn and grow in at school. But in the same breath I am grateful for those who can create this environment with respect, grace and accuracy. I don’t ever loose focus that we will always work hard to keep our food allergic children and friends safe through education and action. Each and every day we must work hard with label reading, planning, educating others, etc.
I am thrilled that so many school districts are now addressing the management of food allergies and what we have worked so hard for (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act) is coming to fruition. This is so critical and life saving that I can’t begin to find the right words to express how happy I feel about food allergies being taken seriously and policy being established. BUT…I am now understanding there needs to be a hearty dose of gratitude, appreciation and support along with new policy. Our kids needs to understand that they are not entitled to folks truly and whole heartedly understanding the management of food allergies. A food allergy policy is only as good as the person understanding and executing it. People are still human and understanding & embracing food allergy management is still a very foreign concept.
I believe we need to remain gracious, respectful and full of gratitude as those around us learn about food allergies, execute policy and meet our special needs. The 11 rules blurb reminded me that entitled behavior is not limited to the general pediatric population and that everyone still needs to work hard with passion and honesty. I really liked the rules and shared them with my son. Although, I didn’t like rule 11, which states “be nice to nerds, chances are you’ll end up working for one” since it makes nerds sound like some sub-breed of human that we must be aware of! Nerds are some of my favorite kinds of people, so I take offense! Actually, one day my son baulked at some kids at his school who he thought were nerdy as he leaped out of the car in his ankle baring flooded pants, uncoiffed hair, carrying his zippered binder instead if a cool backpack. Really?
By the way, here are those rules:
Hope your day is fabulous and thanks for dropping by-I appreciate it! –Caroline