Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Learning to Deal with Others

I feel very vulnerable.  My dreams are full of situations where I am wholly exposed to people, to criticism, to opinions and to ridicule.  I feel very pressured.  I only told my family and one close friend for the first week.  I don’t want to tell other people.  Last Friday I caved and finally told the two little boys I work with.  They were very happy for me and started cheering.  I have been very vocal about encouraging them to try new things, especially because the youngest is going through a picky phase and one never knows what he’ll be willing to eat from one day to the next.  “Now we get to tell you what to eat!” said the older boy.  Somehow I got the feeling like he was eager to make me eat worms or dog poop as payback for my years of advocating for mac’n’cheese.  It was disturbing. 

We have our routines.  I pick them up in the afternoon and we have snack.  I have a can of Pepsi and the little one will try to steal gulps from it all afternoon.  I told them shortly after I picked them up and we went inside for a snack.  The eldest tried to take away my Pepsi, “No, today you have to have a Coke.”  I resisted.  The little one started swinging a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (his favorite) back and forth in front of me, obviously trying to tempt me.  Again I resisted.  They were disappointed.  What’s the fun of being able to eat this stuff if all I was going to do was say no?  Alternatively, I think they secretly hope I will try things and not like them, therefore leaving the rest to be consumed by either of them.  We can’t let that soda or cupcake go to waste, Lis.

I actually have every intention of listening to their advice and exploring these foods with them.  I think Halloween will be wonderful!  Instead of hoarding and viciously guarding their candy, they will both be anxious to share with me and watch me react to my first bites.  But I have to go at my own pace. Everything in moderation.

But what about all the acquaintances who know my peculiar eating restrictions—and now they are suddenly gone.  I keep thinking people will assume I had been lying to them.  “I knew she couldn’t really be allergic to all those things.”  “She told me she was allergic to chocolate, but I saw her eating an Oreo the other day, that lying bitch.”  Just as I’ve had to learn to explain my allergies, I’ll have to learn to explain their disappearance too, I guess.  I’m just not looking forward to practicing.

And what about everyone I meet from this point on?  They’ll never know the food-allergy me.  I’m hoping people will be happy to help me explore and willing to let me go at my own pace.  Yes, it is very rare to watch an adult take her first bites of chocolate cake or sip her first mimosa.  But couldn’t that be the fun part, too?    

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