Includers and the Excluded

 

You know school is about to start when different articles float around the Internet reminding kids to be “includers” at school. The reality is that we will all be excluded at some point of our lives and we should teach our kids how to be “includers” and how to deal with being excluded. Being an “includer” means that we should reach out to those who may be what society perceives as “different”.  Ask them what their name is, what do they like to do on weekends, and questions about their family. You can learn a lot about someone with these three questions. Most people enjoy elaborating on these subjects.

If you are excluded from a group, event, or situation, try something new and create your own fun. Tell others your name, what you like to do on weekends, and about your family. Most importantly remember, this too shall pass as my wise grandmother told me.  We are all different and there is no mold to being flawless. So at the beginning of every school year, remind your children to reach out to those who may be left out and befriend them. Even if it is a simple question about their weekend. You don’t know where they’ve been, what they’ve been through, or if they just need someone to make them feel included. Who knows, they may be your Maid of Honor or Best Man one day.

My children are different (unique) in that they have a milk protein allergy. My son’s case is more troublesome than my daughter’s, but regardless, we try our best to refrain from dairy products altogether. As a baby, my son suffered from daily vomiting and blood in his stool. He was miserable and hungry and we were nervous and tired. Our wonderful pediatrician recommended that we run blood tests and try different formulas, each for a week at a time, until we figure out the cause.

I will never forget the day that my mother and I took my son to the hospital for the third time in a month for blood work. He was crying hysterically, and malnourished. His feet had been poked and pricked for weeks and were so red. I cried when the nurse drew his blood since he was so helpless and already so miserable. He was so tiny. After collecting his sample, the nurse turned quickly around and dropped the vial on the ground. I watched as the glass shattered all over the white floor. There was no way I could take her poking his feet again and watching him suffer. But I knew that if we wanted to find out what was causing his body to react so badly, I had to let her take another sample. Through the tears, we got through the second sample and it made it safely into the basket. That sample revealed that he had a milk protein allergy, something I had never heard of before., We had to find a quick fix since he weighed so little.

With a milk protein allergy, the body’s immune system mistakenly sees the milk protein as something the body should fight off. It is an allergic reaction, which can result in vomiting, bloody stool, and stomach pain. After trying Similac Alimentum formula for a week, his symptoms resolved and he was able to successfully gain weight and his symptoms subsided.

As a result of my children’s allergies, they are excluded from getting ice cream on Dessert Day at school, which usually falls on Thursday. But, they are able to get a Popsicle. I make it a point every Thursday, not to dwell on the fact that they are different, but to excite them about the big picture—that it is Thursday Dessert Day! They get to try new things, new flavors each week! We don’t look at what makes their dessert different from the other kids– we celebrate that everyone gets a dessert and we find the good in a difficult situation.

I wrote Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day, in honor of my children’s desire to be tough and in a difficult situation. To see the silver lining where circumstances may leave them feeling left out. To create their own happiness by being proactive and using their creativity. In the book, Alycat misses out on getting her favorite ice cream-filled Popsicle on dessert day at school as a result of her daydreaming in class. She struggles with the fact that all of the other classmates get her favorite treat and there is none left as she is last in line. After much pouting, she pulls herself together and discovers that she can create her own happiness by inventing a new kind of dessert with the supplies she has at home!

For children, creative problem solving builds self-confidence and lays the foundation for academic and social success. Encourage your children to try new things and work through a variety of possibilities to seek solutions and create adventure in everyday life. Meet new friends, try new desserts, and learn about others.

As Alycat says in the story–

Trying new things is exciting! 

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