Friday, May 18, 2012

The Food Sensitive Softball Player

Before I jump into my latest tale, I'd like to clear my conscious. As it turns out, I am not going to be a daily blogger. I've tried it and it has been an epic failure. I'm too much of a perfectionist. Once I miss a day, it all goes to heck. So, let's call this what it is: a sporadic posting of random thoughts, stories, recipes and things I've learned that I want to share. The stress of writing a daily blog post is now vanquished from my life and you get less random filler. It's a win-win. 

Whew, I feel so much better already. Glad to clear the air. 

A photo of our athlete from her first softball season

I have been quite busy over the last week and a half since I last posted. My DH has been travelling. Shocking, I know. I had to travel for work myself and took advantage of the time to do some reading. My literature of choice were both non-fictions: Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller and The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Nakazawa. The first was fun, enlightening and prescient. The second was intriguing. I'll give you a better low down on each book next week. For now, let me tell you why I am so thankful that Allergy Girl landed on my reading list so recently.

Yesterday was my eldest's final softball game of the season. My eldest, as you may know, has gluten sensitivity and an allergy to dairy. She was just diagnosed three months ago and it's been quite a change for us. She has handled everything like a champ, better than  anyone should expect a thirteen-year-old to deal with such a thing. However, nothing prepared me for the maturity and fortitude she demonstrated yesterday evening.

Last night, after the game, the coaches asked the girls to sit in a circle  on the field to talk about the season. They extolled praises regarding the growth in their softball fundamentals, leadership skills and team camaraderie. Then, to celebrate and bring the girls together, they pulled out a cake and a cookie pie.

My heart dropped into my stomach. My eldest, as a reflex, pushed back from the circle. The other girls dove in. 

I watched the coaches, hoping against hope that they would realize their mistake and at least acknowledge my girl, but no recognition came. Eventually, her teammates started getting a bit rowdy with the baked goods and she had to stand up and walk away. While they all laughed and horsed around, she plastered on a smile, went into the dugout alone and started putting away the equipment. I followed her and apologized for not anticipating a last-game celebration treat. I offered to help put away the equipment. She just continued smiling and said it was okay, that she'd rather do the work alone. 

A few minutes later another mom recognized what happened and confirmed that I wouldn't be off my rocker for being upset with the coaches, both of whom knew about my eldest's food sensitivities. But I should know better. Sloane Miller in Allergic Girl makes the point continuously that NO ONE is responsible for your care but you. Of course, for a child, it's no one's responsibility but the parents. I could dwell on the fact that either coach could have called or emailed me to let me know what they had planned so I could bring something my girl could enjoy, but they didn't. I could seethe over the fact that they found it more convenient to exclude her than to reach out. I'll admit that I did dwell and seethe quite a bit until I thought of Allergic Girl and was forced to recognize that this was my failing. I could have had a direct conversation with the coaches after her diagnosis and made it clear that they could call me anytime with questions or to let me know if special accommodations might be needed. I could have called them a few days before the final game to ask what they had planned. There is plenty I could have done, but I didn't. 

One thing I did do, though, was watch a very good girl take one more step toward becoming a great woman. She could have cried. She could have stomped off mad. I wouldn't have blamed her. Heck, that's what I wanted to do. Instead, she plastered that smile on her face, got productive and rose above it all. I am so unbelievably proud of her. 

I'll do a more in-depth review of what I learned from Allergic Girl in a coming post. For now, I'll simply highly recommend it as a must read for anyone with food sensitivities and any parent of a food-sensitive child. Ms. Miller does a fantastic job of putting things in perspective, pushing us to take responsibility for our own health while encouraging others to work with us to help manage our food issues. It's a delicate balance, but one I feel more capable of finding after reading her book. 

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