Allergy 101: Resilience means rising forward.
WHAT IF MY food ALLERGY WAS A REAL, LIVE PERSON? AND WHAT IF I COULD TALK TO HIM ABOUT WHAT HE’S TAUGHT ME OVER THE YEARS?
Mr. A, my allergy, is waiting at the table when I sit down.
"One, two, three..."
“What are you doing?” I reluctantly ask as I place my bag on the back of my seat.
“Just counting crumbs,” he says with a sly smile. “Boy, the person who sat here before was a slob.”
"Four, five, six…"
“And I think they’re cupcake crumbs,” he continues as he picks up one and puts it in his mouth. “Yes! Extra milky! Looks like you’ll have to wipe the table!”
I grab my bag and walk to another table. He stumbles a bit before standing up, falling back, and eventually following me.
“Don’t you ever get tired of moving to new tables?” he says, half out of breath. “You just can't let your guard down.”
I ignore him.
He continues: “Remember sitting in spilled milk in middle school? I still laugh out loud at the expression on your face.”
I roll my eyes.
“In front of the whole cafeteria, you walked like a robot to the nurse that day," he adds. "Then you cried like a baby until your mom came to pick you up.”
“I was embarrassed,” I say. “But what happened the next time I had to go home to get changed?”
He stops and thinks. “I don’t think you were ever sent home again.”
“Exactly,” I counter. “The next day I brought in an extra change of clothes to the nurse’s office just in case. I rose forward.”
“Forward,” I say with emphasis. “You taught me to rise forward.”
He stares at me as I continue: “That’s why I call you my dumbbell.”
“Dumbbell?” he asks.
“Yes. You made me strong. All those repetitions strengthened my resilience muscle.”
I continue my rant: “That time I had that exposure at the skating party and had to go to the hospital…. I rose forward.
“That time the older boys at the park chased me with French Fries … I rose forward.
“The time I wasn’t invited to that big party at Chucky Cheese’s…. I rose forward.
“I can list a hundred times you knocked me down.”
“I can also list a hundred times I rose forward,” I continue. “I know far too many people who, after getting knocked down, can’t get up. They never learned how to. And I know others who, even if they do stand up, fall backwards and lose ground.
“Then there are the vast majority I feel most sorry for,” I add. “They’re the ones who think resiliency is simply standing directly up.”
“That IS resilience,” Mr. A says. “Resilience is bouncing back to your original form, like a rubber band.”
I shake my head no. "Resilience is moving forward,” I explain. “But it’s ok if you don’t understand. You just keep standing in place if you want with no forward motion. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a dumbbell.”