Always Real

Ears To Hear, Words To Speak, Feathers To Ruffle

Have you ever tried to communicate something to someone and you think you are reeeeaaallllly going out of your way to be kind and sweet and sensitive and you choose your words ever so carefully. But, as you go along, you can tell that the person to whom you are speaking is hearing something completely different than what are saying. And you sense that the more you speak the more her feathers are getting ruffled until you are knee deep in feathers.

And does that make you feel cruddy? And maybe a little exasperated? Because the effect of your words on this person are the exact opposite of what you intend.

Or maybe it’s just me. I suspect it’s just me.

I signed Sean up to attend a class recently. When I got the schedule of activities, I discovered that the snacks they were planning to give the kids were over the top with sugar. Way over the top.

So later in the week, when the event coordinator called and asked me if I had any questions about the class, I took that opportunity to ask about the snacks. I told her that Sean has glycosuria, that his kidney’s don’t process sugar properly and that one of the side effects we’ve noticed is that if he gets more than just a little bit of sugar at any one time, he will throw up. And then I tried to make a little joke about how I didn’t want anyone to have to clean up puke. Apparently it was not that funny of a joke.

She got a little defensive about the snacks and said no one else had complained about the snacks and that furthermore, no one else had complained about the snacks and I was the only one who had complained about the snacks and therefore I understood her to mean that I was the only one who had complained about the snacks. Even though I didn’t think I was complaining, I was just asking about the snacks.

I tried to reassure her that I wasn’t fussing at her about the snacks, but I was just trying to figure out a way for Sean to be in the class, that he really wanted to be in the class, but the snacks were going to be a problem. I offered that perhaps it would be best to pull him out. The thought of Sean holding his little bag of Goldfish while the other kids were swilling grape soda and eating ice cream while he looked on kind of broke my heart a little bit.

And that’s when she said she had gone to a lot of trouble to get Sean in the class (heavy sigh) and then her voice went up an octave.

When she finally stopped to take a breath, I said, “I can tell you think I’m fussing at you and really that is not my intention, I’m just trying to find a solution… I appreciate your hard work… You are so thin/lovely/have great hair and can I buy you a car?…”

No, I didn’t really offer to buy her a car, but I was sucking up to her in a big way to salve the mighty wound I had inflicted upon her by asking about the snacks.

After the conversation was over and I hung up, I felt horrible. I had failed to communicate, to win her heart, to get her to understand my predicament, to get her on my team.

I talked to Antique Daddy, who has expertise in communications, and he pointed out that sometimes volunteer coordinators and customer service people get the brunt of all the public discontent, they are usually not the ones who make the decisions and they are powerless to make any changes. And that by Friday evening when she called, she had probably had enough. And you know what? I understood that. I feel that way sometimes too when someone asks me about snacks on Friday night. So be warned.

He is so wise, and right of course, but he could have thrown in a “poor you” for good measure, don’t you think?

So then.

I didn’t really feel like I owed her an apology, per se, but I wanted to clear the air and to take responsibility for my failure to communicate, so I sat down right away and emailed her (because obviously I had failed at oral communication) and effusively thanked her for everything, for the phone call, for volunteering, for the hard work and I reiterated that really and truly I wasn’t fussing at her and that I apologize if she felt that I was fussing at her, which I wasn’t. Not. Fussing.

I got an email back the next day accepting my apology.

And I have to tell you to tell you here, that for some reason, that felt kind of cruddy. I thought it would have been a nice gesture if she had thrown me a bone, waved off my apology with a “No biggie”. That’s what I would have done.

And that was that.

When I explained to Sean that while the other kids in class would be having cookies, ice cream, soda and M&Ms, he’d be eating Goldfish and drinking water, he said, “That’s okay Mom, I understand.”

Someday I hope to be as mature and reasonable as my four-year-old.

78 thoughts on “Ears To Hear, Words To Speak, Feathers To Ruffle

  1. I have to say that first of all the food issue thing would not be an issue here; there are so many kids w/food alleries, etc…that they are super sensitive to the whole thing. Generally they won’t supply food and ask you to bring your own snacks, then it’s up to you to let them know your child can’t have certain things & they’ll police the sharing.

    I have worked in customer service for years (how else would I choose to be a SAHM w/a 2YO firecracker, obviously I enjoy being beaten down 😉 so I totally get what AD was saying and while that may be the case I don’t think it excuses her. You were being a responsible mom and making sure you child was SAFE. You weren’t rude, you were apologetic?? (don’t apologize for making sure you’re child is going to be ok, that’s your job! My God Woman!) And you were trying to come up w/a solution for her. You were going out of your way to try and solve the situation, so I think your approach and then email was way more than called for. And while it may sound like it here, I actually am NOT that mom who makes the big stink over my kid getting her just due or whatever. I know from reading you how nice you were being and all you were doing was trying to make sure your child was safe and well cared for; that’s what you’re supposed to do. That you did it w/a smile and while being polite, more than above and beyond your call of duty. I’m justs saying…

    I can tell you from experience that people here would have been SCREAMING (maybe not strong enough a word) if a “camp” was planning on doling out sugar filled snacks on a regular basis. They would have less outrage over giving the kids crack (you think I’m kidding don’t you, I’m not).

    The fact that Sean handles the whole thing w/such maturity and grace speaks volumes about the type of parents who are raising him. I hope to be a mature as him someday too. 😉

    Ok, rant done. But seriously dude, you all deserve better.

  2. Shame on that woman. Sean has a legitimate food issue and she was wrong to be critical of your inquiry. You are doing what any mama would (or should) do: looking out for your little man. Aside from “inconveniencing” someone who might have to clean up puke, I am certain that being on the other end of the experience (Sean doing the puking) is not pleasant either. We have to protect our little guys and gals … no one else is going to do it. You go, Antique Mommy!

  3. Wow. You’re a MUCH better woman than I!

    First of all, let me say that you are NOT the only one who feels cruddy, exasperated, & frustrated by rifts in communication. When it happens to me, I sometimes just want to run into my room, lock the door, and sob into my pillow.

    What’s even worse? When I see it happening to other people. People I know, love, and care about. THAT just makes me infuriated. It happened just now as I was sitting here reading your saga.

    Why didn’t that woman take one minute to hear you out on the actual health concerns you had for Sean??? If Sean had diabetes – something most everyone has heard of – I do believe she would have taken a little more care to address the issue at hand. Because your child has something she’s obviously never heard of, this coordinator didn’t even focus upon what was important.

    Perhaps her horrible attitude was reflected (in part) due to her true incompetence to do her job well. I’ll tell you what – if my daughter were in that class I would be complaining about the horrible snack selection as well! If there are many responsible, health conscious parents out there, this coordinator certainly heard more complaints than just yours. No one is entirely powerless, even at the low ends of the totem pole. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll find a way to do it well!

    Maybe this woman doesn’t have children; perhaps she feels that she truly is powerless to do anything to address the problems parents are pointing out. My guess though, is that she has at least had a hand in making some pretty bad decisions. Snacks may not be the only ones…

    You had no reason at all to apologize to her. In fact, on behalf of ALL mothers of children who have health issues – and those of use who are trying our best not to create health issues for our children with an extremely unhealthy diet – I would like to commend you. You were as sweet as southern-sweet-tea to this lady, while she was about as bitter as plump persimmons plucked straight from the tree. And hopefully your reservations about the snacks (snacks that are perfect, by the way, for creating bad eating habits, obesity, & even diabetes issues for kids) will didn’t go completely unnoticed.

    If you were totally and entirely ignored, however, I say make sure Sean makes lots of friends. And you make sure to become friends with their mommies! Of course they’ll love you to pieces! And they could also become your best allies for getting nutritious snacks in the program. If I lived down there, I’d totally be right at your side.

    Finally, one last thing – what started the whole thing was perhaps a breakdown in communication. Don’t you just wish sometimes that we could have some 3rd party, robot-ish type thing that would announce at the onset of a misunderstanding in conversation: “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

    If only…

    Hope you have a wonderful week, and sorry to write you an absolute book. I just didn’t think you were treated very nice, and I wanted you to know that someone out there is feeling for you.

    Much love to you & yours, take care and God Bless.


  4. Poor you. Seriously.

    I hate stuff like this. It is why I am a surly curmudgeon. People expect me to be cranky, so they get less offended if they think I’m complaining. You are paying the unfair price of being a generally nice person. She should have done more than just accept your unnecessary apology.

  5. I’ll be willing to bet your’s wasn’t the first phone call! I can’t imagine many mom’s wanting their four/five year olds returned to them all sugared up after their class! I wouldn’t be happy about it, esp. if it was going to be a daily thing!

  6. At our last church (across the country), the kids used to get A Whole Pop-Tart for snack. Oh, glory! And I never said anything to the leader b/c I knew it would be a communication disaster–as it would be a “personal” attack to her. She feeds *her* kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast–what’s wrong with that you snotty nosed goody two shoes of a mom???? Sigh.

  7. That woman was a jerk! Your son has a medical condition, and he should be accommodated. Would she have acted the same way if Sean had a peanut allergy and she was planning on serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Sometimes, it’s just not all about you (her), and she needs to grow up a bit.

  8. Maybe instead of “glycosuria” she somehow misheard it as “whiny-@ss mom who doesn’t want my son to enjoy tasty treats”? Gee whiz, I can understand being tired and put-upon, but I DON’T understand her blowing off a medical condition, especially in these days of adjusting school menus for nut and shellfish allergies and whatnot, she was out of line.

    But I know what you mean about you thinking the conversation is going one way, and the other person thinking it’s something else. Sometimes it feels like every conversation I’ve had in my life, including with my own husband, has gone like that. 🙁

  9. Sometimes we grown-ups get ourselves so geared up! I know that when I’ve had to have serious talks with my kids, I’ve gone so far as to make notes and rehearse. I want to have my explanations, my ducks in a row and my words of consolation on the tip of my tongue.

    Then it’s the kid who says “No biggie,” like Sean.

    I think they also read our cues – our words and tone and boy language. Kids are in tune like that without even knowing. You may have thought Sean would be upset, and he knew that (in a 4 year old way, of course) and his reaction was true to himself, but also a way of making you sure he’d be OK.

    Kids are amazing that way.

    Until they’re about 15…

  10. Thank you for sharing that – it makes me sad that you had to experience that, but boosts my own damaged sense of my communication skills to hear that someone as eloquent as you also has trouble with nimnoses!

    It seems to me like a lot of people try to out-treat others when planning activities (oh, the soccer stories…sigh). Thank you for trying to inject some sanity.

    I hope that this is the last problem you experience there, and Sean has a great time! This isn’t a cooking class by any chance, is it? LOL

  11. Oh, this hurts me a little, too, because I know all too well about special diets and I don’t think it’s too much to ask (especially these days) to accommodate children that have different needs. Or at least make the EFFORT! You know? And I have found, too, that my children are so capable of handling it and understanding, which is awesome. But still…


  12. Wow, I am so there with you regarding the misery of failed communication. And while AD is right about thinking where this poor woman was at the end of the week? I don’t think being tired/sick/miserable/downtrodden gives us a pass on being whiny and sensitive. One of the most important aspects of behaving charitably is that we have to do it EVEN WHEN WE DON’T FEEL PARTICULARLY CHARITABLE. I lecture myself about this about five times a day.

    Where the bigger picture is concerned, though, what DO we do with people who are so eager to be offended and to cultivate a sense of woundedness that no matter what you say, they’ll hear a personal attack? We can’t just stop talking to them (well, I can’t stop talking to my mom, anyway). So what do we do?

  13. No, no, she wasn’t a jerk, not at all – so please don’t say that, she just couldn’t hear what I was trying to say. So yeah, she was hearing anti-junk-food-whiny-mom instead of help-me-with-this-situation mom. And then the whole apology thing didn’t exactly work either.

    I won’t ask for special treatment for my kid. I was just trying to figure out what exactly was going to happen with the food (were they going to make something out of it or just eat it?) and would it be better (most fair to him) to leave him or take him out of the class.

    Having said that, Sean does have peanut allergy, as many kids do, and everyone seems to accommodate that, but what about all the diabetic kids? It seems like almost every kid-centered event we go to, it’s a sugar fest. And I think it needs to stop.

  14. Oh the wise and insightfulness of a four year old. Antique Daddy didn’t sound far of the mark either. I hope Sean has a great time!

  15. While this woman may have been hearing from people all week, she had not been hearing from YOU all week and your concern should have been addressed. The fact that she did not change her tune at all when Sean’s medical condition was mentioned is shocking to me.

    My kids are high schoolers and they have both, throughout their school years, been in classes where adjustments were made for the needs of various children – no peanuts, no red dye, etc. She could have at least heard you out.

    It sure looks to me like you did everything to communicate your concerns well; even going so far as to apologize. In this case it seems the problem is in how she’s received the whole thing.

    Not to make you worry more, but I am just a little concerned that she will not be able to separate this issue from her relationship with Sean. Be on the lookout for how he gets along with her.

  16. Sometimes all the “soften the blow” measures actually make things worse. I remember a student who came to me with a prolonged preface about how much he enjoyed the course and appreciated my help as a professor … and the whole time I was just waiting for the inevitable “but.” When the “but” finally came it was something relatively minor, but I was prepared for some kind of serious grievance, given all the effort he was putting into preparing the groundwork so I wouldn’t get offended. It’s a weird thing – sometimes by signaling that we don’t want to give offense we make it seem as if what we’re about to say actually IS a serious criticism.

    That said, I cannot BELIEVE that woman. How is it relevant that all the other parents are fine with the snacks, when presumably none of the other children have glycosuria? Or was her point that the other children should not be inconvenienced (i.e. denied their rightful access to sugar-filled snacks) by Sean’s health needs?

  17. I would have concerns about her being one to care for my child if she wasn’t concerned about his health. My granddaughter is allergic to milk. There’s a whole lot of snacks out there she can’t have. Her consuming them could have dire effects. As Sean will have if he did. But you’ve taught Sean well, he knows he can’t have them. My granddaughter, who is two, got a chip from her daddy the other day and came running to me and said “no cheese”. She knows she can’t have it. She may not know why yet, but she knows she can’t. And Sean does too. Is there something he takes if he gets sugar that prevents the sickness? We can give my granddaughter Benedryl to combat the side effects if she accidently ingests things she’s allergic to.

  18. I don’t know, I think when you are trying to get someone on your team, the onus to deliver the message in such a way as to be heard is incumbent upon the speaker – not the listener. However, sometimes, as in this case, it’s not possible, if the receiving end for whatever reason doesn’t have ears to hear.

    For those of us who are Christians who hope to share the message of the Gospel it is essential to take responsibility for every aspect of the proper delivery of the message – tone, words, audience, attitude, timing. Some people, like my husband, are especially gifted in this way. Others like me, bumble and stumble. A lot. But that doesn’t let me off the hook.

  19. Don’t feel bad at all. You did more than I would have! I had a similar situation with Dayna when she was in grammar school. She can’t drink a lot of milk. She knows when she’s had enough. Always has. It’s that feeling right before the stomach ache. The ‘kitchen helpers’ wouldn’t let the kids up from lunch if they didn’t finish all of their milk. I took it to the school and since I didn’t have a doctor’s note saying she was actually allergic to milk, she would have to follow the rules. After a few times of them calling me to tell me she refused to take milk with her lunch (as per my instructions) they left her alone.

  20. I’m learning that sometimes it is a fine line we walk when trying to be advocates for our children and not be over the top whiny moms. And truth be told, AD is probably right and she probably did hear a lot of actual whining all week, thus inhibiting her ability to discern not whining from whining. I think the best we can do is what you’ve done, which is prepare your child to deal with the world. I hope I’m able to do it as well with my girls as you have done with Sean.

  21. I echo the other commenters in saying that you should not have had to defend yourself. I work at a summer camp, and we often deal with kids who have food issues/allergies, etc. There is nothing wrong with asking about what your child will be served, or asking for an alternate meal or snack if your child can’t eat what’s offered.

  22. Yeah, that would have bugged me, too.

    You handled that better than most people would, I suspect. I’ve been trying hard lately to see things from other people’s perspectives (“maybe she didn’t see me crossing the road with the stroller when she almost ran me over with her SUV and perhaps those gestures she was making at me were expressions of her immense regret”), but the fact of the matter is that some people are just inconsiderate jerks.

  23. Poor You!! Really. Only a really nice person would be concerned enough about a relationship to apologize when you weren’t the one who owed an apology. I’d say putting your pride away and not having the spirit of “I’m RIGHT and You’re wrong!” speaks quite well of wisdom and maturity.

  24. It is a terrible feeling when you can tell the words coming out of your mouth do not match the response you are getting from your listener. Almost feels like you are speaking another language. Been there. Had entire DAYS like that. Even worse when a mama’s feelings for her own child are mixed in. Sorry.

  25. The difficult part about communication is that there are always two parties involved–the sender and the reciever, and we can only control one of them–whichever we are at the time.

    AD is probably right, but you are right, too. She probably is hearing questions, comments, and concerns about all aspects of the class. I get this all the time in my work–one parent would prefer the class to begin 15 minutes earlier, another parent is concerned because her child will always be 5 minutes late, another parent wants to be sure there are other girls in the class, another wants to be sure there are not too many girls…you get the idea.

    You were nice (and right) to apologize–but she could have also said something to the effect of “thank you for your apology. I am trying to take everyone’s concerns into consideration and it is pretty difficult. I appreciate you offering to send snacks for your child, maybe we can work on this more next week.”

    I had something similar a few days ago about a class my son has to take–for college. I became a frustrated with some mix-ups and I got a little short with the academic advisor. I called her back to apologize and she was very gracious and said to me that she was glad I pointed out the problem, that no one else had told her and now she has learned from it.

    We both learned from it.

  26. There’s a guy who is still mad at me because he didn’t hear what I said at first, then refused to listen to what I tried to say to clear up the mess, and then decided to just stop talking to me altogether.

    Ugh. I hate when communication breaks down. It’s so destructive. But maybe we should all be as wise as your four-year-old: It’s okay. And leave it at that.

    I think I’m too defensive much of the time as well: “I didn’t mean that, and it hurts that you took it that way, so stop feeling hurt!” That probably doesn’t help [smile].


  27. Many times people try to take the easy way out of things by choosing to put the blame on someone other than themselves. You, Antique Mommy were a victim here! She should have been much more professional! Her job is to be polite and helpful in EVERY instance. Not go into a tirad.

    I am sorry you had such a bad experience.

  28. Like you, I would have hung up the phone with a pit in my stomach. I hate it when communication goes awry. I especially hate it when someone thinks I’m trying to be whiny when I’m not.

    You are not alone on that.

    And I so would have e-mailed her. I can’t stand bad air between me and someone else. Sometimes, I know, I just need to let it be, because there’s nothing more I can (or should) do.

    Still. I hate that.

  29. We can all be misunderstood from time to time but you handled things well. Good advice from AD! And your baby boy…what a smart little sweet pea he is!!

    You are right…way too much sugar with the kids events. It does take a little planning for kids or adults to eat a little healthy.

  30. I accept your apology. I ACCEPT YOUR APOLOGY??? You’re right, AM. It wouldn’t have taken any effort AT ALL to say “no biggie”. The fact that she didn’t says a lot. I mean, you weren’t criticizing the snacks. You were talking about the fact that your son has a medical condition. I mean…if Sean had been born with no legs and you were talking about how playground protocol might need to be handled, do you think she would have drawn herself up in such a hissy-cat way and told you about how much trouble she had gone to about getting him there? AD is right about those types getting all the gripes, but yours was legitimate. And it wasn’t a gripe. Maybe she doesn’t know that public schools (and private, too) have totally retooled their snack rules to allow for kids with allergies, etc. One peanut fragment past the lips of a kid with a terrible allergy to them and…pfffft! So what’s the harm in her just asking you if you thought it would be okay for him to eat something different while the other kids were having Ding Dongs and chocolate milk. Or whatever?

    The other day an old high school classmate sent out a mass e-mail (as she is wont to do about every 30 minutes)criticizing the person I plan on voting for in the Presidential race. It was…ugly…and false…but it managed to bring in some sweeping jabs at the entire party and those of us who vote that way. Words like “dirty” were used.

    I never send out e-mails like this because I don’t like getting it and I mulled over what I should do. Ignore? Respond? Attack in return? I express my views in public, but I don’t use e-mail to blindly send out salacious gossip and smear campaigns disguised as factual reports. Finally, I sent out a “reply all” just saying that I’d rather use our classmate forums to report on reunions and get-togethers. I’d rather just meet them for a beer and talk about how hot it is. And show off pics of our kids. I didn’t want to get e-mails like that and that I didn’t send them either. Two days later she apologized profusely. And I? Wrote her back and said “no biggie”….and “when were we all going out for a girls’ night out?”.

    It’s just not that hard. And Sean with his little baggie of goldfish. *sniff*. Tugs at my heart.

  31. It’s totally not fair to Sean, therefore completely unreasonable… but… wouldn’t it be nice to give the lady one of those “life lessons” we try to give our children and just let him throw up all over her classroom?

    It’s how I feel when I’ve just successfully raced my potty dancing child clear across Super Wal-Mart only to find they have closed the bathroom for cleaning. Knowing there is no way we’ll make it dry to the other bathroom, sometimes I’d like to tell her to pee right there on the floor in front of the Potty Nazi that won’t let us in.

    That’s just my secret wish, because we wouldn’t want to teach the children to pee on the floor when we don’t get our way, now would we?

  32. One wonders what the purpose of the call was. If not to problem solve, then what?

    But, then – for whatever reason food is such a touchy subject with people – equated with comfort and love and all. – and besides – perhaps you didn’t hear that no one else complained.

    That being said, perhaps a more proactive approach would have been heard. I am concerned about the snacks – now, of course, I can simply send Sean with something of his own, but, I’d like him to feel included as much as possible as I know you would. He has health concerns that preclude him from eating what will be offered. Perhaps I could volunteer to bring something different for the whole class and maybe there are others who would do the same. Are there other kids in the class with dietary restrictions?

    That’s the kind of approach I take in these kinds of situations. Now, I have extensive life threatening food allergies on my side AND I still only feel heard and helped rather than ignored and handeled about 50% of the time.

  33. Try not to bear to much of her burden, any regularly reasoning individual would have tried to work things out with you. You weren’t being a complaining, overprotective mom, you were protecting the best interest of your son (and her for that matter)!

  34. Why oh why are they filling the kids with such junk?
    Even without a medical condition kids shouldn’t be eating that so regularly. I’m sure they would gobble down apple slices, carrot sticks, pretzels, etc. just as readily. You cannot possibly be the first parent to complain. You are a wonderful advocate for you son and as far as I’m concerned, the other kids in the class. Maybe it’s just a healthy California thing, but all of the activities we’ve been a part of (soccer, Girl Scouts, baseball, etc.) we’ve been asked to bring healthier food choices for the kids. The only exception being Birthday celebrations. 🙂

  35. I am right there with everyone else on this matter, but also, even if your child doesn’t have a food allergy/medical issue, only serving candy for snack is totally irresponsible!!
    We had this issue with a camp too. Snack time was nothing but candy. At least you had to give permission to buy the junk and so I packed something else for my daughter instead of wasting money.
    But seriously, any program that is going to serve sugar filled junk should expect complaints/questions about their choices.
    All that being said, I would have probably been the exact same way as you on the phone, apologizing and then kicking myself afterward!

  36. I think your approach and apology were both just the ticket to try to explain the original situation and remedy the ensuing hurt feelings. You did not attack her or her snacks, you simply stated Sean’s problem.

    I think AD’s assessment is correct and add to all that he said that she was/is wearing her feelings on her sleeve and doesn’t really know how to be gracious.

    I’ve run many, many things for kids before, and we ALWAYS have alternative snack for kids with food issues. OR their parents send a snack and we make sure they get it. We also tried to either do a salty AND sweet snack or alternate and not do sweet every day.

    I find “whining” to be really annoying when it is “My son’s class got to pick the colors of THEIR hats, but my daughter’s class has all the same color. She was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO upset that her hat is orange.” OR “My son’s class got pretzels AND M$Ms and my daughter only got pretzels.” UH-NOY-ING.

    “My son has a condition that causes him to not process sugar correctly.” is NOT whining nor is it a commentary on her ability to run/organize an event. She took the message the wrong way based on (probably many) factors that are beyond your control. You did not DELIVER it the wrong way.

  37. Lots of good opinions here. Frankly, I wouldn’t have emailed her because I don’t think you owed her an apology. I think, given time, her response should have gnawed at her and SHE should have apologized.

    And as for being the end of the week and what AD said, if it’s been that rough, the best thing would have been for her to just email, or postpone the telephone discussion until she could handle things better.

    I think it was your responsibility to say what you meant, and to a certain extent, express it as clearly as possible so the receiver understands what you are communicating. However you are NOT responsible for her putting a personal spin on her reception, and by apologizing, you give her an out so she doesn’t have to be responsible for her actions.

  38. You are a kind soul. AD was probably right, Friday night she was probably up to ears in alligators. She also may have something else going on in her life that renders her less than cooperative.

    Is it just me, or plying kids with a bunch of sugar sounds like a really bad idea in any circumstances?

  39. First, I want to tell you that I enjoy reading your blog very much. I’ve never left you a note, but I’m coming out of hiding today! 🙂

    I think your son sounds like an awesome little boy, and even at a young age he’s got it together. He seems to take things in stride. My hat is off to you, Antique Mommy (and Antique Daddy, too).

    It appears that you took great care to explain your concerns just as pleasantly and light-heartedly as you could, and you were obviously willing to work with the event coordinator to work something out.

    It’s just impossible to know why she reacted so inappropriately. (I mean, if you don’t want to hear someone’s response to a question, don’t ask the question. Duh.) I do think she owes you an apology, but you know, there are people out there who just can’t give an apology to save their lives. Like I said, who knows why she acted so poorly? I’m sorry she did.

    I think you can feel good, though, because you showed great kindness to her. It would have been easy to fire off a sharp little email to her, but you went out of your way to be nice. The fact that she missed the opportunity to do likewise is unfortunate.

    (And a little tacky. I’m just sayin’. Whew. I’m sorry, I had to get that off my chest.)

    So, carry on, Antique Mommy. YOU are doing it right. But I bet you already know that every time you look at that sweet little boy!

  40. Ugh…we just had a situation like this with a community group. We had a headstrong member who wanted to be the leader. After a few thing happened, we got a call from our PASTOR asking me to smooth out any ruffled feelings. I did. not. want to do it. But, I tried. After two emails, I got one of those “I accept your apology”type emails. It felt cruddy too.

    Just saying, I feel that pain. I hope Sean was able to soothe your feelings a bit.

  41. You sound like you have the same problem I have. My darlin hubby says that I can’t explain things verbally, but rather well in writing. It is sort of….foot in mouth disease and I don’t quit until I have my toes past my throat. However, in this case you shouldn’t have given it a second thought… she was taking it personally and that is not your problem. Your duty is to see that Sean does not ingest stuff that will make him sick and he is only four years old. Fortunately, Sean is wise beyond his years…. God certainly gave him to the right parents.

  42. My comment may ruffle some feathers, but as Sean grows up and becomes more and more active in school and sports and clubs and classes, you will find that the adults in charge often react just like that. I can’t tell you how many times I ended up wishing I hadn’t even brought up my suggestion. But, you had every right to talk to her about the snacks, given his problem with sugar, and she was out of line and over reacted. Just file the memory away in your mental file drawer marked “People I will offend regarding my child.” I guarantee it will be full by the time he graduates from high school. :s Sorry to sound so pessimistic, just speaking from experience. I can even detect this attitude in my own sister – and she is a very loved and fantastic middle school teacher. They’ve been so “burned” by the parents who truly are a nuisance that sometimes they over react when approached by a well meaning one.

  43. My daughter has IBS and she’s lactose intolerant. The struggles we’ve had with her could fill volumes. She didn’t get to go to camp because the people from the camp.. that I took time out to call PERSONALLY and describe all the ins and outs of her condition… could not understand that ‘making good choices’ just doesn’t cut it when the choices are high fat, cheese laden pizza OR fried chicken strips with french fries. Both the cheese and the high fat totally rock her little world. And then their other option of ‘she could eat the salad bar’ didn’t work either.. as she can’t tolerate a meal of just salad fixins with her IBS. Drove me nuts. I’ve gotten comments like ‘she is just going to have to get used to having this’… and the people saying it are really trying to say to me ‘lighten up and have her eat what is served’. Drives me batty! I always want to say ‘do you want to sit on the floor next to her when she’s curled up in the fetal position with SEVERE abdominal cramps?’ My guess would be ‘no’. But I have. That’s why I fight for her the way I do!

    I understand. Keep fighting for your boy! And on a side note.. I can’t believe what people think kids are supposed to be entitled to eat these days… trash! We eat a balanced diet of lean, white meat proteins, fresh veggies and healthy-er carbs. We eat very simply but very well. But most people look at me like I’ve sprouted a third eye or something… and WE aren’t even that ‘extreme’ as far as eating healthy.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest! : ) ps… you didn’t owe her an apology, IMO.

  44. Oh AM you have your hands full, It will never be easy,others will take your comments as complaints!This I know first hand, as I have sons with medical conditions. Hang in there, the honeymoon is ending!If you feel knee deep in feathers there will be your soft landing(meaning you have done you job well and you have there attention)When others have been notified of a childs condition they become responsible for that child, Please put all request in writing, verbal notification is most times a failure.Your goal is to protect your child. I don’t mean to preach but I’ve been in your shoes many many times. Oh one last thing all foods convert to gulcose a form of sugar it will get processed through the kidneys. God Bless and Good Luck!!

  45. Okay on a lighter note if you are knee deep in feathers she must have been molting. Just imagine her with no feathers, pretty funny sight.She actually gave you what you needed a soft place to fall kind of like kids in a pile of leaves. Hope you feel better about yourself no room for self doubt when dealing with medical issues.

  46. what kind of class serves those kinds of snacks anyway? do they want the kids to sit still for the class or what? whatever happened to graham crackers, celery and carrots? with maybe a little ice cream thrown in at the end? maybe. and no soda! i am annoyed FOR you. would she have been that flustered if you’d mentioned that sean had a serious nut allergy and couldn’t eat anything that had ever even sat next to a nut? i hope not…

  47. I feel for you. Our oldest son has a slew of allergies, food and otherwise. I used to jump through the hoops about explaining about snacks, and making special bag tags and tags to plaster on his shirt that said **Do Not Feed the Child Unless It’s From The Little Zip Loc Bag I Sent** and finally I just dumped the whole front-end acrobats and long disertations. Now whenever we take him somewhere we just say, He can’t eat that, he has to eat this and shove the zip loc bag at them. And then our son usually adds, “And don’t feed me peanuts or I will probably die.” hee-hee

  48. I think that woman needs a new job. Something that does not involve working with the public, and DEFINITELY not working with parents. I have to agree with the other commenters: you did a very admirable job in this situation. These days we are conscious of diet as a whole and the general effects of sugar even on people who do not have medical conditions. Why are they offering sugary snacks at all???? If I were running a children’s program I would offer fruit and vegetables and other healthy snacks involving healthy grains and the stuff we know is good for us, and work with the parents, who know their children far better that I do! That’s just my two cents.


    PS I started my blog! Thanks for your input on that. I went with wordpress.

  49. Are you sure he’s only four? He used the phrase “I understand” and meant it. This is something I scarcely hear out of my fifteen-year-old daughter. Whatever you both are doing in raising Sean, you’re doing it very right.

  50. Thank you for sharing that. My son has a severe peanut/tree nut allergy and I feel misunderstood all of the time. It’s comforting to know that it happens to other people too.

  51. Just think….if one of my daughters was in the same class as Sean, how glad she would be to find a buddy to eat her Goldfish and drink her water with.

  52. Love his heart.

    I work with an “I accept your apology” person….’nuff said.

    Don’t really know if it being Friday afternoon had anything to do with it….some people just perceive things wrong even when the other person is trying so so so hard.

    Again, love his heart. How blessed you are…not only is he precious beyond words..he is strong and that is a good thing in this world.

  53. I think she could have greeted you with a better attitude of understanding. After all, SHE called YOU to see if you had any questions. You did all you could and I’m sure your delivery wasn’t the problem.

  54. Sigh…. I totally have been in your shoes before. Had a similar situation a year or so ago…. still feel guilty about the whole thing because somehow, someway I know I upset this poor lady that was just doing her job. I was just trying to explain my side of things, giving what I thought to be reasonable examples, etc. I’m not sure how to make one of these get better. However, I do feel your pain! 🙂

  55. As the parent of a child with SEVERE food issues, OH, I HEAR YOU. I’ve had more people get snippy with me when all I did was politely ask about food options for my child… nice.
    (and I have a hummingbird picture up!)

  56. Antique Mommy,
    I love your story!! And I feel like I could have written your post today, except my hearing trouble was with a man, a “Christian” Business man, who wanted my business. He spent a good bit of time “teaching” me about his service as it was something that I did not know much about. Trouble was, I didn’t sign on the dotted line at his expected pace. I apologized for the slowness of my response and my being in a position of learning more about WHAT I was purchasing from him. He too “accepted” my apology then he let me know that I was “trying his patience” and that I needed to either “fish or cut bait” (Yeah, he actually emailed those words to me!) at which point bait was cut!!
    Those kinds of situations are so tough to settle in your heart. They just aren’t FAIR when we are trying SO hard to be nice!
    Bless you and thanks for giving me a chance to vent with you!

  57. I cannot believe that you have to grovel because you are expressing what is best for your son in eating habits. I am a teacher and my take is ALWAYS parents have the greater wisdom on what is best for their own child. I’m so tired of the junk food of society being poured over our kids and we look like bad guys when we protest? In my public school, a teacher can be fined $1500 for serving FWMNV (foods with minimal nutritional value). Even the state of Texas takes eating healthy seriously! Bless you for standing. Keep it up.

  58. Thank you for this post…I have just been through something similar, only I can’t post about it, because I think she reads my blog…

    My situation doesn’t involve snacks or kids, but it definately involves communication. Something I’m pretty good at most of the time. But, with this gal, I am positive I have said/done/emailed something that came across in a way I NEVER intended…and I don’t know if I should approach her about it to try and work through it, or if I should just forget it.

    Your post is encouraging to me…I might just email her and apologize – and just see what happens. You set a great example of what it means to turn the other cheek, and be a peacemaker. I know God smiled. 🙂

  59. My son is allergic to dairy, sulfites, and food coloring, and he’s gluten intolerant, AND we’re vegetarian. We send him with alternative snacks, alternative to birthday cake, alternative everything. People have been really good about being understanding, for which I’m grateful, and he’s generally really good about accepting it. But every once in a while he breaks my heart with this: “Mom, I wish I wasn’t allergic to so many things.”

  60. This reminds me of a situation that happened when my son was a high school freshman 2 years ago. The band was competing in San Antonio in a marching contest after having gone to school all day Friday, practiced the marching show after school, gone to a football game and marched at half-time, left for San Antonio at midnight, slept on the busses all night and then was expected the compete in a major marching show at 8:30 am the next day. Wanna know what breakfast was for them? Bottled Starbucks frappucinos and bananas! Wanna know why? It was TRADITION! (And how DARE I even suggest that there wasn’t any protein in that breakfast. Forget the fact that the carbs were pure sugar!) My son also happens to be an insulin-dependent diabetic. Talk about ruffling feathers…I think I’ve spent the past 2 years ruffling feathers regarding appropriate snacks and meals and then spending enormous amounts of time making him sandwiches and his own snacks that are more nutritious.


    Don’t feel guilty for ONE MINUTE, AM. You go, girl.

  61. I think we’ve all probably dealt with people who just don’t get what we’re saying. And then again, we are probably often enough the one that doesn’t get it. I’ve definitely been the one who wrongly misunderstands – mostly because I was defensive for some reason.

    Sometimes we assume that people are saying “I want to make your life harder”, or “You’re not doing a good job” when all they’re saying is “My son is allergic to sugar”. Your post was a good reminder to stop assuming, and listen. Very thought provoking, thanks.

  62. My daughter’s best friends are twin girls with a SEVERE peanut allergy. And I struggle with food allergies as well, although not quite so severe.

    All that to say… I understand. It stinks having to eat Goldfish while others around you wallow in piles of M&Ms. It really does.

    Oh, but it will probably make Sean that much more compassionate. And aware.

  63. So glad I stopped by today! I really appreciate your articulate, encouraging, and entertaining writing! 🙂
    It sounds to me like you handled this situation well. 🙂 Some people are quite hyper sensitive… I’m actually one of them, but when I see others like that I think “Wow, what is their problem?!” 🙂 He he. 🙂
    God bless as you continue to perfect the art of unruffeling feathers… 🙂

  64. Okay, hands down my favorite post so far. I think you handled it great. I’m sorry she didn’t appologize for her own behavior in the e-mail. That does feel ‘icky’ when you do the right thing, and it’s not reciprocated. I also love Sean’s response. He sounds like an amazing boy.

  65. Two years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to begin to understand about food intolerances and allergies and how sugar affects some children…I have two children who could eat anything. Then my son started having allergic reactions to something…we still do not know what it is. Therefore I have to be extremely careful about what I give him. Not everyone understands this. Including Grandparents and family members who think I am overreacting and what a bad mommy I am for not giving my son anything that comes out of a can or bag.

  66. I’m dealing with some communications issues in my women’s ministry. I wish I could blog it, but too many people I know read my blog.
    Strange little things can set people off. And I don’t want to apologize for doing something that wasn’t bad, wrong or even should have been done, lol.
    ugh! I need to blog it! But I won’t. Because I am pretending to be as mature as your 4 year old.

  67. Kids can be surprisingly gracious about their special diets when they are young.

    I have noticed that a majority of people seem to believe that kids eat too much sugar these days, though a little treat now and again is fine.(This is true of little plasic toys as well!) The trouble is that no one wants to give up their “right” to be the one to dispense the Delight in deference to a others and a kids’ overall health.

    Grandparents claim their right to spoil, churches/kids programs claim their right to use sugar as a motivator and point of attraction, businesses want to attract kids with the stuff… No one will give up their piece, as if they are the only sugar a kid is getting. Seeing everything they’ve been given by others, I, the parent, feel the responsibility to be the one to draw the line and say no, denying myself of the popularity others won’t give up. The irony is that parents are most commonly the ones blamed for feeding kids too much sugar.

  68. Ahh . . . well, I agree with you that a little “no biggie” would have made me feel better, too.
    Honestly I see nothing wrong with the way it was handled and I think you were kinder than most people would have been when all was said and done. 🙂
    Hugs! We are ALL learning from our kiddos.

  69. First of all I have to say that I have not read all of the comments. My first reaction is, I would of said, “well since it doesn’t matter to you if he throws up, you are welcome to give him as much sugar as you want to, I’ll send extra clothes and please be sure to rinse ALL of the puke off of the dirty clothes before you bag them up to send them home”. Of course we know you would not let your son be abused by allowing that much sugar, but it would possibly bring it to reality for her that you were serious. Serious like a 4 year old puking! Kudos to “Superman” for being so mature!

  70. I can’t imagine she would respond like that! Was she not listening? Tell Sean they will be serving cruddy snacks, so he will get to bring his own!

  71. Wow, everyone has already said everything I was going to say!

    So let me just add… it’s not just you. In fact, I feel that way every single time I speak to my mother!

  72. Ok I have a bit different take from the other womans perspective. I am hypersensitive…everything makes me feel incompetent/uncapable…Though your comments were not intended to, I would most likely have taken it that you thought I didnt know what I was doing planning the snacks….

    On the other hand as a mom I totally get it and agree with you. My 5 y/o doesnt eat chocolate or cheese…no medical issue, he just doesnt like them. I had to go thru WWIII last year with his pre K because the teacher got angry he wouldnt eat her packages of Oreos…and even better when I found out he had been begging for Salad at lunch and they told him it was only for big kids….HELLO if you get a 4 y.o begging for SALAD you feed it to them. I wound up having to get a note from his dr to take in Non chocolate snacks for the poor kid and having to get the superintendent to OK him having salad??? What is up with these people?

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