I love this post from Momastery, “This is What Brave Means”, so much and, of course, it feels so familiar. Take a minute to read it if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s time to redefine “bravery” for your children and for ourselves and to realize that physical danger is not the defining characteristic of a brave action.
For people with food allergies, who get pressured all the time to take risks, bravery is not eating something you’re unsure of or taking risks with your precautions. Bravery is standing up for yourself, asking for precautions, and risking being different because you aren’t eating the food at a party or other social event.
Children are often expected to take management of their allergies into their own hands, which sometimes means defying adults who don’t fully understand their allergens. THAT is brave. Bravery is the second grader I heard about recently who gave herself an Epipen after her teachers told her she had to wait for the ambulance to arrive, because she knew she needed it. Can you even imagine? A child was told by grown ups that she could not have the medicine she knew could save her life until an ambulance arrived, which could easily be too late. A second grader, grabbed her own Epipen and injected herself in the leg, defying the adults around her , and possibly saving her own life.
My own 5 year old daughter also exemplifies bravery to me, although to others, she might seem fearful and overly cautious. Bravery is when she decided on her own to skip Sunday school because she found out they were passing out donuts and goldfish. Bravery is when she walked calmly to sit in a chair so I could inject her with an Epipen because she realized she had eaten something she shouldn’t have. Bravery is standing up for herself and suggesting to her brand new kindergarten teacher that she should wear gloves and collect chicken eggs with her class, despite her allergy. Bravery is marching into almost every party she has ever attended with her own cupcake or meal and her bag of epinephrine auto injectors, because she knows that when it’s time to eat she will be surrounded by allergens and will need to act differently from everyone else to keep herself safe. Bravery is when we eat out and she takes it upon herself to tell her server all about her allergies and what all she is allergic to. Bravery is when she has to go to the Dr’s office for a food challenge and spend 4 hours taking bites of food she knows could make her sick, could require her to need Epinephrine, and that she has spent her entire life trying to avoid at all costs.
My child may be cautious, but she and all of the others like her are the most BRAVE little beings I know.