Afternoon tea is very in at the moment isn’t it? Or it certainly seems so. Not that it ever really went out of fashion. The idea of tea and cake becoming unfashionable seems to me to be very odd indeed. Perhaps with the advent of ‘Friends’ and the rise of the Starbucks and Costas of this world, the unthinkable happened and the popularity of tea wained slightly in England. Well I am pleased to see that it is back, and so is gin apparently. Yippee! I need to do more research on the gin before I am able to write with any authority on that particular subject. And I also suspect that you might also need to do some more research before you are able to see whether or not you agree with my views on gin whenever I come to express them. So let’s agree to re-group on that one in the future.
Yes, so afternoon tea. Imagine my friend’s delight when she was invited to afternoon tea with a group of friends. This is my friend who openly admits to never having met a cake she didn’t like, so she was very happy indeed. I am not sure she has met a gin she didn’t like either. Nevertheless, she womanfully presses on with trying to find either a cake or a gin she isn’t keen on.
Unfortunately the date of the afternoon tea fell on a day when her significant other had to go to work, and she was going to have to take her (very well behaved and older) children with her. I’ve been both in and out with these children on many occasions, not only are they very well-behaved, they also entertain the other children, which is a win-win situation as far as I am concerned. In the meantime, my cake/gin loving friend had another friend get in touch with her who was having a childcare nightmare on that day; she and her partner had to work and there was no one who could look after her child. My friend agreed to help out, because that is the sort of person she is. The child happens to have a severe food allergy. My friend checked it out with her parents, the restaurant where the afternoon tea was to be taken and also happens to be trained in the use of an epipen. All was in hand. Everyone who needed to could go to work. And everyone else was having cake. Marvellous.
I need to declare an interest here. My son has a food allergy. Several actually. Thankfully none of them are life threatening, but if he has an allergic reaction it is pretty unpleasant for him. He gets hives on his hands and his face, his lips swell, he can find it hard to breath and eventually he throws up. He usually feels rather ill for the rest of the day. He has medicine, which he usually throws up as well. I discovered his food allergy when he was eight months’ old. I won’t bore you with the details, but after about six months’ of carefully noting what I had prepared and a process of elimination, I had nailed it. The hospital confirmed that which I already knew. My son is pretty wonderful about it – he has never let it put him off trying new foods or eating out. And I know that many many children have so many more serious things to worry about. Most people have daily shadows lurking in the back of their mind when it comes to their children, that is one of mine.
Back to the story. After having taken every precaution, my friend then notified the afternoon tea organiser of the additional child. Down to the last exclamation mark, this was the response she received:
“Seriously!!!! I thought she had a severe allergy!!! Don’t want to put you off but it’s not a risk I would take!!!! I’m there to have a giggle with friends not stressing about someone’s allergy!! Sorry if that sounds harsh but I do panic about these things 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (: (: (: (: ”
My friend asked me if I thought this rude. I thought it exceptionally rude and told her so. In addition, I have a few comments in response because my friend is far too polite to say them, nor does she have a blog:
- Yes, you do want to put her off.
- You’re not stressing about anyone’s allergy, you don’t want the child there.
- It doesn’t sound harsh, it is harsh. Couching it with a ‘sorry’ at the start does not make it less so. Besides, you’re not sorry. And you don’t panic either. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
- A sarcastic person might suggest that it must be very difficult for you spending your days stressing about the food allergies of other people who are not in your care.
Now we all know what is really going on here. And I agree with what is the main thrust of the women’s response is that children can be a pain, particularly one’s with allergies. But that’s life. It very rarely fits neatly into boxes. Children certainly don’t. Suck it up.
We don’t really get to choose many things in life – our looks, our intelligence, who we fall in love with – all of these things are outside of our control, however much we like to think that they’re not. But there two things that we can choose. The first is that we are sufficiently privileged in this country to be able to choose to have children. For me, having children meant that however they were to come to me, they were mine to care for, come what may, until the day I die. And when our friends have children, they become part of our lives too. And the second, for which I am grateful every single day, is that we can choose our friends. The one who will be pissed off if my son happens to be ill in spite of carefully checking everything? Or the one who will hold my son’s head whilst he is sick on her shoes? Hmmm…tricky….The one with the barf-spattered trainers please. I choose that one. But I promise faithfully to replace the shoes.
Photograph courtesy of OneManOneShed on etsy.com/uk