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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:08 am
Posts: 78
Location: Halifax
A recent incident has left me wondering how to explain to my six year old daughter that she needs to avoid certain people in order to keep herself safe. Almost all the neighbours on our little cul de sac know of my daughter's severe milk, egg and nut allergies. One particular neighbour that lives at the beginning of the street decided one day to host an ice cream party in the middle of the cul de sac which is right in front of our driveway. Terrified of seeing melting ice cream everywhere and dozens of people walking around with ice cream and spilling it on our lawn or driveway I reached out to the allergy folks through my facebook page to ask for suggestions on how to deal with the situation. My problem was the fact this particular neighbour knew of my daughter's allergies and how severe they were and in fact had an incident with her toddler a few weeks before where her daughter was trying to splash my little girl with milk, thinking it was fun. This particular neighbour was also a fan of my allergy page and in fact had another friend with a child allergic to eggs. She wanted to make a meal for her friend and was not sure what to do so she asked me and I offered for her to come to my home and prepare her meal there to make sure it is safe since our home is egg free as well. All this made me wonder why she would want to do the ice cream party in front of my home where my little girl would also be watching. In any case, that neighbour saw my inquiry on facebook and was upset. For the next few days I received abusive comments and messages. Her friends defended her and claimed that I went about it the wrong way and accused me of many things. Many of them even rejected the notion that ice cream would be unsafe since my daughter will not be eating it. All of a sudden an ice cream party became more important than a child's safety. I tried to explain to them that my daughter's safety and my concern are more important than an ice cream party. I felt like my daughter was being rejected. No one came to my aid or helped me out. None of my friends in the neighbourhood even commented and when I asked them for support they told me that they think this is my fault. Regardless of who is right and wrong, I realized that I have no friends and that the people I knew do not really share my values and my approach to food allergies. Most of them have no idea what it takes to raise a child with life threatening allergies. I have cut off all contact with them. I shut down the facebook page to stop getting all the abusive comments and messages.

I have not slept in three days and have eaten almost nothing. I am afraid for my daughter but I am trying to cope. She is fairly smart about her allergies and can explain to others what she is allergic to. My question is this: How do I explain to my 6 year old girl that she needs to surround herself with people who share her values and understand her food allergies? I don't know how to tell her that we need to distance ourselves from those who do not understand our allergies and attack us because it may not be safe for her. I don't want to scare her but at the same time, I need her to understand that many of the people she meets are not going to accept her or her medical condition. Does anyone have any ideas on how to approach this with a 6 year old?

_________________
Daughter: ana to milk, eggs, peanuts, allergy to pet dander, asthma, eczema
Husband: ana to aspartame, shellfish, allergy to pet dander, eczema
Myself: asthma
http://www.allergymom.ca


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
What an awful situation! :frightened You have an absolute right to feel upset. We look to others to help us keep our children safe.

Your daughter is probably confused about why an adult would want to do such a thing when they know that it could make her sick. She might think that they don't like her.

What I have always told my daughter is that "Not everyone plays by the rules". By this, I mean that we try to surround ourselves with people who respect us and who care about our personal safety, but not all people are good and kind.

You don't have to say why this person is mean. You should tell your daughter that she is a good person and point out how many people like her and try to keep her safe. She should treat this person and probably her immediate family the same way that she would treat a hot stove or a scary dog. We simply can't trust them.

You might talk to the police or by-law office about harrassment and intent to harm. Especially if this person is aware of your child's condition. Why could they not hold the party in their home or back yard?

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
You may want to look at your city by-laws to see what it says about nuisances and/or block parties. As well, you may want to see if they have Good Neighbourhood programs.

:huggy

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:39 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 799
Location: Vancouver, BC
I am so outraged by this! I can't believe that your neighbour is treating you and your daughter this way and others are leaving nasty comments on your FB! Sending hugs to you. I'm so sorry.

I don't really have much in terms of advice for you. This really is a horrific situation. Maybe one thing you could suggest if the party is definitely going ahead, is that the neighbour have the ice cream in front of her own house instead of near your driveway?

Susan has good suggestions about checking bylaws for block parties etc. I'm wondering, though, whether people would be resentful if after you asked the city, the authorities told her she was not allowed to have the party on the street? Based on what you said, would it come across better if you asked nicely for her to host it in her yard? Maybe reiterate to her that having that much dairy in your driveway would mean it would get tracked into the house on shoes, then contaminate surfaces that are supposed to be safe for your daughter.

Let us know what happens. I'm so sorry you and your daughter have to go through this.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:30 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
The was a story recently about a nasty letter that was sent to a grandmother of an autistic boy. The letter was apparently sent by a neighbourhood mom.

I think the current atmosphere is one of shock by the community at the lack of compassion from the letter writer.

I read about it and thought of your situation.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:08 am
Posts: 78
Location: Halifax
Thank you all for your support.

Susan.. I did try your suggestion and I believe it worked. It's like a light bulb turned on in my daughter's head when I explained it using the hot stove or scary dog analogy.

I never did call the city as I really didn't think it would do any good and besides, I didn't want to cause any more trouble. The issue was not that I asked them to move the party. Actually they came up with that on their own. What I asked was for them to just keep it away from our driveway. But the neighbour and her friends, as well as the rest of the neighbourhood thought that I was being a total b***ch by asking for suggestions on my facebook page. They are upset that I hurt the neighbour's feelings by not going to her first before asking on facebook, not about why she would do an ice cream party in front of the home of the allergic girl in full view of the street. She claims she was trying to be inclusive but I am still skeptical. Despite that, I apologized because I did not want hostility in the neighbourhood but she did not respond and refuses to speak to me or even acknowledge me, which is fine.

But what bothers me is that my friends think she is owed an apology. Some think that I had no right to bring it up to begin with since my daughter was never going to consume the ice cream, and some think that I overreacted. Even though since that neighbour moved in, my daughter lost all privileges to the cul de sac and could not set foot there anymore. The neighbour's little girl plays there often and has a sippy cup with milk that is constantly splashed everywhere. And what makes it worse is that I saw the facebook page views rapidly increase meanwhile, NO ONE responded at all. I tried to respond but I got more hateful comments. Even my husband responded with an extremely polite and apologetic letter and we still got hateful comments. I got really vile messages to the extent that I had to shut down the facebook page because they still kept sending me nasty messages. Even my next door neighbour that I helped shovel snow last year got in on the bashing!! My extended family refused to say anything good on my behalf claiming it is not their fight.

In any case, I have cut off all contact with my neighbours and friends. I am a little apprehensive every time I leave the house and I do fear for my daughter. I am a little anxious but I typically keep it on the inside so on the outside I appear tough as nails. But it eats away at me. I do not trust anyone anymore.

_________________
Daughter: ana to milk, eggs, peanuts, allergy to pet dander, asthma, eczema
Husband: ana to aspartame, shellfish, allergy to pet dander, eczema
Myself: asthma
http://www.allergymom.ca


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
A lot of people have a hard time believing that milk can be so dangerous. I remind them that it was residue from fresh cheese curd on the tongs used to serve french fries that brought on the anaphylaxic reaction that killed 13 year old Sabrina Shannon.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 799
Location: Vancouver, BC
Susan makes a good point about people's perception of milk allergy. This still doesn't excuse your neighbours' behaviour though. I hope the hosting neighbour ends up having the good sense to move her party into her own yard. I'm sorry this is so hard.

Just wanted to say, though, that I just clicked on your blog, and am LOVING the recipes. Will be checking them out more thoroughly this weekend.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
Posts: 1119
Two ideas for you:

Become a part of a private Allergy group on FB so that people not living with Food Allergies do not see the messages. That lets you be more open without worrying about hurting their feelings etc. And you don't have to be delicate as you would on your own age.

Secondly, when something does happen on your own FB page, ask the others from the private group to back you up!

_________________
me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:18 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:08 am
Posts: 78
Location: Halifax
Walooet.. I never thought of the private allergy group idea. I'm probably going to look into that.

Alison's Mom.. thank you for the feedback. I do love to bake. I had to put that energy somewhere!!

And thank you all for your support.

_________________
Daughter: ana to milk, eggs, peanuts, allergy to pet dander, asthma, eczema
Husband: ana to aspartame, shellfish, allergy to pet dander, eczema
Myself: asthma
http://www.allergymom.ca


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
I'm really sorry to read about this situation. How hard for you. I hope that as time passes and tempers cool that your neighbours will regret their actions and some peace can come to the situation.

I hate to bring this up but has there been fallout from this at school? Has your daughter returned to school yet? As a teacher, I have seen disputes (over a variety of issues) between families carry over at school. I hope not for your case. However, it could be possible so I thought that I would just give you a heads up in case.
Hang in there and take care.

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:51 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:08 am
Posts: 78
Location: Halifax
Katec.. thank you for the heads up. Fortunately in our case, none of the neighbours have kids in my daughter's age group. Most of the kids are junior or junior high level. However, I can easily see how this would turn into a dispute if the kids were in the same class. We are preparing for school this year with the usual meeting to discuss safety issues with regards to allergens. We just stress that her anonymity remains intact. Also, I make it a habit not to engage other parents from the classroom unless they come to me first with something positive. My days of daycare hell taught me that parents of non-allergic children are generally not sympathetic so I teach my daughter to keep to herself and I do the same. As for the neighbourhood, I don't think I need people like that in my life. It's stressful enough dealing with allergies. To be honest, even if they cool off, I probably will never be able to trust them again. I mean we are all civil; I'm even civil to those who insulted me and called me names. But I just can't see myself being able to socialize with them again.

I have to say that Susan's suggestion is really working for us. This 'hot stove' analogy is brilliant. My daughter totally gets it and it avoids having to label people as negative or bad, only that they do not understand and so we keep away from them. I LOVE it!

_________________
Daughter: ana to milk, eggs, peanuts, allergy to pet dander, asthma, eczema
Husband: ana to aspartame, shellfish, allergy to pet dander, eczema
Myself: asthma
http://www.allergymom.ca


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:21 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
:huggy I'm glad it's working!

I would also suggest that you encourage role playing such as playing "tea party" with her. If you play the allergic individual, you can introduce phrases and words that will make it easier for her to express herself. She can also act out any worries that she might have.

My daughter used to do this with me and I would pretend to have a fish allergy (because she doesn't have that). She would be sneaky and lie to my face telling me that there was no fish in the cookies and then tell me there was after I took a bite!

Good luck with school and everything. Remember, the best revenge is a good life. :D

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:21 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Ontario, Canada / Cambridge, UK
Social media (Facebook, etc) is a great tool but it can also serve as a way to communicate that can be counterproductive. It is unlikely that all those friends/neighbours who made critical and insulting comments would actually say those things to you personally. Now emotions are running high and everyone is upset.

I think communication in this situation could have been better. Firstly, your neighbour should have informed you of her plans. Was she obligated to do so? No, but it definitely would have been the considerate thing to do. People have a sense of entitlement, especially when it comes to their homes/neighbourhood and this can sometimes cloud their judgement. I don't think anyone sees that these insensitive plans made to take place in your own community/cul de sac have made you and your daughter feel left out. They all want their kids to enjoy an ice cream party and perhaps they feel, subconsciously or not, that one child should not spoil the fun of the majority. Yes, that's the harsh reality we with allergies or parents of kids with allergies must sometimes face. In a way you feel 'victimized'.... an allergen is a weapon and someone throwing an allergen-laden party right in front of your house can seem like an attack. So I do think that the whole attitude was not conducive to neighbourliness and community spirit.

I think if the neighbour had approached you personally in the first instance and let you know of the ice cream party, you would have had the opportunity to go out and make other plans so your daughter wouldn't see all the 'fun' that was going on without her. But more importantly, it would have opened the lines of communication and you could have had a meaningful discussion, asked her if there was a specific reason why the party had to be right in front of your house and suggested she have the party in her backyard. You would have then seen for yourself, through her response and attitude, what the true motivation of the party was. If she has just not realized how insensitive this seemed, you would have seen this in her words and actions and she would have been accommodating in finding an alternative solution that would include your daughter in the party. If her true motivation was selfishness or perhaps a way of expressing that she is fed up with her daughter not being able to run loose in front of her house with a sippy cup full of milk, you would have read that in her response. Then you would know for sure that this person is not in any way supportive or understanding of your daughter's allergy and you would know where you stand.

Secondly, I do think it would have been more appropriate for you to address your concerns with the neighbour personally rather than first posting on Facebook. Perhaps you did this because you felt you were not consulted personally in the first instance, or it was just an automatic reaction as someone who is used to communicating through a blog and social media or you were too upset to confront the neighbour so writing it down was a way to express your feelings and perhaps garner some support and understanding. Either way, it backfired. The neighbour probably felt publicly criticized and humiliated, even though that was not your intention. Now everyone is upset and no one is communicating with you and you don't want to communicate with them anymore.

The lines of communication need to be reopened, if you are all to live in the same community and share the cul de sac. Although you are definitely owed an apology for the treatment and hurtful comments, perhaps you can be the bigger person here and make the first step and speak to her personally. It takes one person to get the ball of positivity rolling and you could be that person. You said you apologized when this first happened, but I don't know if this was done personally or through Facebook, and besides, emotions were at all all-time high then, so she was not responsive. You could speak to her in person and apologize for turning to Facebook first, stating your reasons why and explaining that you realize how this made her feel. Hopefully, this will elicit an apology from her too and you can all move forward and be more aware of any situations like this in the future, where your daughter is made to feel left out. If she does not respond in kind, then you know for sure where you stand and know that this person is a 'hot stove'. You can then keep a polite distance and keep things civil (a 'good morning' or 'nice weather today' now and then). I would suggest that you wait until emotions are no longer at a high before attempting to initiate contact.

Of course, this is just my opinion on what I have read about the situation. I don't know you or everyone else involved, so my comments are purely objective.

_________________
16-year-old son: peanuts, nuts, raw egg whites, asthmatic
Self: allergic rhinitis, fragrance/chemical sensitivities, oral allergy syndrome


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