I don't remember much from before I was 4 years old, but I do remember being sick, my stomach hurting, and being told off and punished for either taking a long time over meals or refusing to eat them. Back in 1966 EoE and allergies were almost unheard of. I was labelled a 'sickly child', attention seeking, naughty, a slow eater, or 'fussy'.
I was bullied for many reasons through my school life. Having the name of Digweed, being slow at everything, being tired, feeling unwell, getting allergy rashes, wearing glasses, being good at singing.... These were all 'good reasons' for my peers to poke fun at, pick on, and avoid me, I was fair game! But the worst was being forced to eat. At school and at home I had to 'sit there until you've eaten it'. If I refused, it was either forced in, or served up again for every meal until it was eaten or mouldy. Sometimes there was projectile vomiting, sometimes I couldn't swallow the food, then there were the migraines, constipation and diarrhoea, and lethargy. We'll never know if any of the upset stomach was actually food poisoning, but it's possible.
Back then, there was no recognition of such conditions. 'Oh, she's got a tummy bug again', or, 'children are like that' was the commonplace thought. Our parents were told 'they'll grow out of it', which is still said by many people. Yes, it is possible to 'grow out of' some allergies, however, it is also possible to grow into more of them. Allergies can change and increase as we age.
Today, children are still bullied and belittled because of all manner of illnesses, particularly allergies. There is no legal obligation for schools to provide for their needs. Medication is often locked away in the school office, instead of being on hand for immediate, lifesaving use.
Time is wasted and lives are put at risk unnecessarily.
Times have changed, and these days children are more valued, respected, and listened to, for which I am grateful. When I was a child 'children should be seen and not heard', and 'spare the rod and spoil the child' meant a smack for moving without permission, never mind speaking or having an opinion!
As the years went by, I learned ways to avoid eating, ways to cope with life around food, and how to stand up for myself. I'll share more about this next time.