The Disney Channel has been forced to yank an episode of its show, Jessie, after the mom of two kids with celiac disease watched in horror as a child with gluten intolerance was bullied on-screen like it was a big joke. Jeez. Kids with food allergies just can't get any respect, can they?
No really. There's nothing like a good fight over peanuts to start a mommy war, but let's just leave the kids out of it, shall we?
Yes, some parents of kids with food allergies over-reach in an attempt to keep their kids safe. That's on them, and we can all debate how far parents should go until the cows come home.
But the kids themselves can't help that they have an allergy, and it behooves the rest of us to treat them with a little kindness and compassion.
Which is not what happened on the recent (and no-longer available) episode of Jessie. A little boy named Stuart who has a gluten intolerance was made to look like a demanding brat by the show's writers. Then, to make matters worse, a little girl named Zuri (who already ranked right near the top of my list of most obnoxious child characters on television BEFORE I saw a clip of the gluten debacle) starts throwing pancakes at him. Pancakes that were made with a gluten-based flour, of course.
According to mom Amy Raslevich, who started the Change.org petition that convinced Disney to can the episode, watching that happen on a TV show intended for kids was hurtful to her children.
I can see where she's coming from. The message of the scene is pretty clear: it's OK to be mean to kids who have issues with food.
Do you think that?
Do you want your kids thinking that?
Have you bothered to talk to them about it?
My kid happens to be growing up in a household with one vegetarian parent (me) and one meat-eating parent (my husband). We've never had to have a big talk about the fact that different people eat different things because we've had hundreds of small ones. No, Mommy doesn't want a piece of your steak because she doesn't eat meat. No, you can't put your bacon on the same plate as Mommy's eggs, etc.
What I didn't realize was that all those small conversations made a big difference when she got to school and started encountering kids with food allergies. So her friend B can't have red dye 40? So the boy from soccer can't have gluten? That's all normal to my kid.
I probably should have been talking about food allergies with her, but our slightly irregular lifestyle bridged the gap for us. But it wasn't until I watched the little brat chucking pancakes at a poor kid that I realized how lucky I'd gotten -- and how remiss I'd technically been in not having a specific conversation about food allergies.
Honestly, this is a conversation we all have to have with our kids, right along with the one about different lifestyles, different looks, different ... anything. If your kid had an allergy, you wouldn't want them singled out and bullied, right? So make sure your kid isn't the one doing the bullying.
Check out the Jessie clip, does it bother you? Are you glad Disney apologized?