My son, Morgan, is now 17 years old and has a long time to process feeling ‘different’ from his peers. He frequently hears from other children with food allergies who ask him questions like “Do You Get Tired of Being Different?” Morgan got the opportunity to answer this question in an email that he received earlier this week. I so enjoyed his response that I wanted to share it with all of you.
I can’t personally say I’ve ever been tired of being different; I actually rejoice in it! It makes me, ME. In the same way, having food allergies to peanuts, eggs, or animals makes you, YOU. I really enjoy being different. Why? Well, I went to a Boy Scout camp when I was younger called Camp Alexander. My mom and I really didn’t feel comfortable having the chef cook my food, so we pre-cooked and brought up all of my food for the week long camp – it was a lot of work, I know! But, it was completely and absolutely worth it.
While other Scouts were having bouncy macaroni or dried out cereal, I got to have steaming hot pancakes and sausage that I knew was both tasty and safe! If I wasn’t different, I’d never be able to have that awesome food; instead, I’d be stuck with the regular ol’ cereal. I really don’t like to be stuck with the generic stuff…it’s boring!
However, I know there’s a lot more to being different than just tastier camp food. Sometimes in school you may have to eat something different than all the other kids, and it really doesn’t feel good, right? I know the feeling. You just want to be like all the other kids instead of being different, right? Or, as you said, you have to have your mom organize all the food parties to make sure you’re safe. I’m sure you’ve been playfully teased about your food allergies – like kids complain about the fact that you just have to have food allergies.
I say move on. Ignore them. I don’t know if you look up to someone or you want to be like someone, maybe a superhero. Iron Man maybe? I’m not sure. But if you do, just know they’re different too. They are someone SO different than everyone else and that is what makes them so special and awesome!
I like being the “allergy child” or the “allergy kid.” It tells me they’re jealous. They don’t get special treatment (like kings. I mean, come on, we’re definitely treated like kings.) from their moms or dads or get special food simply because they’re different. They’re stuck with that plain ol’ bland cereal instead of awesome food that you like! I really do think they’re jealous. So, you know what I do? I have a lot of fun with my awesome food and ignore them.
It makes me a proud Mom to read my son’s response and to know that he means every word of it. I’m too am glad my son is different. We Moms didn’t ask to be on this path of advocating for our children with food allergies, but I for one am glad that I’m on this path with many other fabulous, intelligent Mothers who just want their children to be safe and happy!