Today I’m participating in a synchroblog on small kindnesses to help Fiona Robyn celebrate the release of her new book.
I was 11 years old the first time it happened.
Pain blots away the past and future. There was only one moment that had ever existed and it was wrapped up in an intestine-curling, breath-stealing, sweat-beading illness that swooped into my life without warning.
Eventually an elimination diet helped me realize that my body was having serious issues with milk products. The less I ate dairy products the better I felt but rural Ohio in the 1990s was not an easy place to have food allergies.
There were few milk alternatives back then and even fewer people who understood that people with food allergies aren’t being picky.
Enter Mrs. C., my computer science and word processing teacher. At the end of the year she was also a chaperone for a field trip I went on with a dozen classmates. On the way home she treated us to ice cream. There was nothing on the menu I could eat so I quietly didn’t order anything.
She noticed right away and asked me why I wasn’t eating. I told her about my allergy and she grew quiet.
The field trip was on a Friday. That following Monday she called me to her desk at the end of class and gave me some colourful sticky notepads. She said she was sorry I couldn’t have ice cream but that I deserved some kind of treat.
I was so touched that she’d thought of me and gone out of her way to be inclusive.
Even all these years later her kindness makes me smile.