Friday, September 14, 2012

Where Has All the Compassion Gone?

My friends know that I am usually a sarcastic wench.  I believe that we take life and ourselves too seriously at times.  My friends also know that I am usually the quiet one - until I get comfortable around you.  I would hope many would say that I am someone who would do anything for anybody.  Anyone who knows me for more than 5 minutes knows that my family and closest friends mean the world to me.  Nothing is more important.

What my closest friends and family know about me is that I am a very senstive person, who puts her trust in people way to freely and gets easily hurt by people's words and actions.  This is not a side I show to just anyone.  Although one look at my face and you would know how I was feeling.

For those of you that are thinking "wait usually these post are full of sarcasm and funny tales" keep reading.  I'm sure there will be some sarcasm thrown in here somewhere!!

As we are all aware, my son has gluten intolerance.  We also know he is 14 years old.  As soon as I say this around moms who have made it through teenage boys, I usually get the "ahhhh" with a nod of understanding.

My son somehow missed the bus last Thursday morning.  I'm not sure how this happened.  I set the timer on the stove before I left for work.  He was awake and had eaten breakfast before I walked out the door.  I am chalking it up to being a 14 year old boy. 

I am impressed with his recovery skills.  He called my brother and asked him if he could take him to school (Big THANK YOU!!) before he called me to tell me he had missed the bus.  He had used the backup plan we had put in place for such an event.

What he forgot to do was grab his lunch!!!  No problem you say, he can buy lunch at school.  Yeah I wish it was that easy.  You see what my 14 year old son is supposed to do if he wants to eat lunch at school is sometime before his third period class he must stop by the cafeteria and let the head cook know he needs a gluten free lunch.  Sounds reasonable!

Until he is having a the morning from hell.  I mean he already missed the bus, had to listen to a lecture from Uncle R the entire way to school, and realize that everyone in our family will hear about his mistake.  (That's just how my family is.)  So I am not at all surprised that my son didn't notice he had even forgotten his lunch until - yep you guessed it - lunchtime.

I am just sitting down to my 30 minute lunch when I get the text message - "Mom I forgot my lunch".  At this point I realize my son is having one of those days.  You know the kind where you should have just stayed in bed and pulled the covers over your head. 

So I reply back "Check with the assistant principal to see if your gluten free food has arrived at school".  (I was told it would take 3 weeks for the school to get gluten free food).  His reply - "OK".

From this point things start happening in a very nasty blur.  Apparently the gluten free food had not yet arrived.  He was offered the following choices: rice, pinto beans or salad bar.  I have told the school staff from the beginning that salads cannot be our backup plan.  The boy will not eat a salad.  Rice & pinto beans - that doesn't sound appealing to me AT ALL. EVER.  And especially not from a school cafeteria.

So when speaking to the nurse and assistant principal, they kept saying that my son refused to eat.  He choose not to eat.  He refused any of the plethora of options.  Yes I kid you not.  The assistant principal actually said he had a PLETHORA of options.  Last time I looked 3 is not a plethora!!!

After a 45 minute conversation with the nurse & assistant principal, I realize that their main goal was to make sure I was well aware that my 14 year son had not followed the proper protcol for ordering his lunch and that this was all his fault.  They were not interested in solving the issue that my son was going to be at the school until 6pm eating nothing but an apple.

I offered up solution after solution.  All of which were met with an excuse as to why that was not possible.  I mean I know you serve 1800 kids.  I know each of the 3 lunch shifts is only 30 minutes.  I know that my son needed to take some responsibility here.

Yes I am aware that in 4 short years he will need to enter "the real world" and be prepared to function given his food limitations.  I am more than aware that he is 14 and needs to take responsibility for his choices.

I also know that my son was having an extremely rough day and needed someone (other than me) to show him a little compassion and empathy.  I know that it is not fun being a 14 year old boy who can't have gluten.  I know that being different in any way in high school can easily make one a target for ridicule and bullying.

What I don't understand is how the people to which I am entrusting my son have absolutely no empathy or compassion!!!

What I also am aware of is that there are days when we all have a crappy day.  There are times when we all just want someone to show us a little compassion.  There are times when we can't be perfect.  I mean as adults we have options if we forget our lunch.  We can get in our car and drive ourselves to a store and get something to eat.  The last time I looked my son's high school is a closed campus.  Oh wait he isn't even 16.  He doesn't even have the ability to hop in a car and run to the store to grab a gluten free option.

What my son needed that day was for just one adult to show him a little understanding.  He needed someone to say "I realize how difficult this gluten thing is for you.  How can I help you make it better?"

Instead he learned that adults he is supposed to count on to support him don't really care about how hard it is to be gluten free.  He learned that if he makes even one mistake, it will be held over him. 

As I have sat back and reflected upon the events of that day, I realized why this all made me so very angry and upset.  I was in tears several times.  Crying is not something I like to do - especially not on the phone with school administration.

I realized that I felt like my son and my parenting skills were being called into question.  I felt like I had two women judging me and my son.  I felt helpless when my son needed an adult to care about him.  I was a concerned mom who needed some compassion and empathy.  Not to mention the things that were said to me by the school administration were things I would never say to my best friend much less a parent of one of my students.

So my question is where has all the compassion gone?  Why do we not care about each other?  Why do we not want to help each other have a better day?  Compassion and empathy are two traits that we as a society are losing.  We seem to have lost the art of caring for one another. 

I know that my son will need to learn to fend for himself.  I also know that sometimes we all have to count on those around us to help get us through life.  We were not meant to be islands.  Sometimes we all need a kind, caring person to help us navigate through life.

And just in case you were wondering, I solved the problem and created a workable backup plan just in case he forgets his lunch again.  After explaining the backup option to my son, he hugs me and says "Mom, you are the best problem solver". 

I just hope he is paying attention and picking up some of these skills!!

1 comment:

  1. What an awful experience for both of you!!! I'm sorry that happened. :( You would think that educators would be more compassionate!! Sorry for both of you.