I am JJ: Your child is more than a food allergy.

Here I am trying to learn magic by observing "Bravo the Great" at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa.

Here I am trying to learn magic by observing "Bravo the Great" at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa.

This post originally ran March 5, 2018.

Yesterday I went for a walk around the streets of Philadelphia. I talked about my nots. I focused on my cants.

“I’m not Bobby or Billy or Simon or Sally or Sam,” I said looking into the camera. “I’m not Donny or Danny or Austin or Parker or Julian or Ivan or Jordan.

“I cannot drink milk. I cannot eat tree nuts,” I continued. “I cannot do a back flip. I cannot do a hand stand. I cannot do a cartwheel…”

For almost three minutes I exposed my deficits.

I even pointed to a trash truck, while observing, “This is not a car or a bike.”

I looked ridiculous, indeed, which was the point. It’s ridiculous to define my world by what it’s not, even if it was just for 2:46.

And yet we let our young people do it every single day. Not just for three minutes. But for their lifetimes.

As a result, we have a generation of young people who NEVER feel good enough. WE are never pretty enough or skinny enough or strong enough or smart enough or athletic enough.

This mindset must stop.

One of the missions of this blog is to introduce young people who have food allergies to the Land of Can. We must teach our children how to have a healthy relationship with the “nots” that are beyond their control. They can’t ignore a not obviously, especially if it’s a health matter. But a child with a food allergy can learn how to balance safety with normalcy.  Safety with normalcy. Safety with normalcy. Your child is more than a food allergy. 

During my first video blog two weeks ago, I held an M&M in front of my eye.

“We all have an M&M in our lives,” I announced. “We can’t let that blind us from all there is to see. We must find a way to move it to the side so it doesn’t define us.”

I love this example because it’s true. And it’s simple to illustrate. The M&M is still there. It just isn’t in our way.

For children to begin to develop a sense of CAN, experts say that their parents should adopt a CAN attitude for them first. Here is the task this week.

Can you list 20 things that your child is good at doing or that your child likes doing now? Also, can you list 10 talents that your child possesses? And looking to the future, can you list 10 things that your child might be able to learn to do with practice. It’s time to start connecting their talents with opportunities.

When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers did just that. Mrs. Riegel told me that she respected my sense of “observation,” which she called a skill, a talent. She went on to to tell me that I would be good at magic because I was observant and would be able to learn the tricks.  She connected a skill (observation) with an opportunity (magic).

After I told my parents what my teacher had said, we took a day trip to the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa. There I met magicians Bravo the Great and Dorothy Dietrich.

When we were at the museum watching them perform, my parents kept whispering, “Be observant. Be observant. See if you can figure things out.”

I’ve included the picture of that trip. Because a teacher taught me that “observation” is a “talent” to be embraced, I was able to connect that talent with an opportunity. Just look how focussed I was watching the magician. And while I’m not a magician today (although I can do a trick or two), that trip to the Houdini Museum truly was magical to me.