Can she learn to love­my­dream of a Noah’s Ark?

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

QI GREW up with a lot of pets in my child­hood home — so many that my friends fondly re­ferred to it as “Noah’s Ark.” I’ve al­ways wanted to have a fam­ily home of my own which in­cludes lots of pets. I re­cently met a girl who is sweet, thought­ful and beau­ti­ful, and I re­ally think she might be the one. How­ever, she has a ma­jor pho­bia of dogs, claims to be al­ler­gic to cat hair, and is ex­tremely re­luc­tant to con­sider any other type of pets. Do I ig­nore that and hope to con­vert her later down the line? Or do I make it clear to her that a home with­out pets is not an op­tion for me, and risk break­ing up some­thing which oth­er­wise seems per­fect?

ATHE AN­SWER to your ques­tion comes down to this: is your need for a pet stronger than your love for this woman? And are you re­ally pre­pared to make her ill and mis­er­able be­cause you in­sist on keep­ing pets?

Only you can make that call. It may be that you de­cide this girl isn’t “the one” af­ter all, be­cause you re­alise you need a life part­ner who shares your love of an­i­mals. Or you might con­clude that a hav­ing a great re­la­tion­ship means more to you than your fan­tasy of recre­at­ing a child­hood home filled with pets.

What wor­ries me that you say you “hope to con­vert her later down the line.” She isn’t some­one who just doesn’t like an­i­mals much; she has a “ma­jor pho­bia” to dogs and is al­ler­gic to cat hair. It’s un­likely that th­ese things will go away. Sure, she could have ther­apy for her pho­bia, and take an­ti­his­tamines for her al­lergy, but that’s a lot to ask of some­one just to make you happy. You ex­pect her to change for you, when you haven’t even sug­gested com­pro­mis­ing for her.

You could still have an­i­mals in your life even if you don’t have pets. You could visit the farm or the zoo, for ex­am­ple, spon­sor an­i­mals, vol­un­teer in an an­i­mal shel­ter, even get a job with an­i­mals, like be­com­ing a dog walker.

Life is all about adap­ta­tion and com­pro­mise. And it rarely turns out the way we plan. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple who crave lots of chil­dren aren’t al­ways able to have them. Oth­ers who don’t imag­ine a fu­ture with kids find them­selves with sev­eral. You’ll never be able to recre­ate your own child­hood home ex­actly. Every­thing you say sug­gests that you are not ready to set­tle down just yet. You’ve only re­cently met this woman. Stop wor­ry­ing about the dis­tant fu­ture, en­joy dat­ing her and and see where the re­la­tion­ship goes. Re­mem­ber, Noah’s Ark took many years to build.

QMY THREE and a half year-old-son has just been di­ag­nosed as coeliac and gets so up­set when he can’t have cer­tain foods when he’s out with other chil­dren. Dear­est Hi­lary please help me. Please! I can’t cope.

AIT MUST be very dis­tress­ing for you to see your son get so up­set when he can’t eat the same as his friends. At three, he won’t un­der­stand the rea­son for be­ing de­nied, only that he is miss­ing out. But ac­cord­ing to the char­ity Coeliac UK (www.co­ealiac.org.uk), it’s im­por­tant that chil­dren of all ages un­der­stand their di­ag­no­sis. It ad­vises that you should try to ex­plain to your son in sim­ple terms what coeliac dis­ease is, what gluten does to his body and what foods he should avoid.

He prob­a­bly al­ready recog­nises that he some­times has a poorly tummy, so you could tell him that some naughty foods cause this. You could also show him that there are many good foods that will make his tummy bet­ter.

There’s a lot of sup­port out there for chil­dren with coeliac dis­ease. It might be re­ally help­ful for you to join Coeliac UK, which has spe­cific in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice for par­ents on its web­site — even a recipe for gluten-free play dough. You can call the Helpline on 0333 332 2033. If you join, why not down­load a copy of their chil­dren’s guide, The Belly Bunch, which is aimed at un­der-sev­ens and uses easy to un­der­stand lan­guage and colour­ful pic­tures to ex­plain the con­di­tion.

Go­ing gluten-free has be­come ‘fash­ion­able’ and many peo­ple there­fore don’t take coeliac dis­ease se­ri­ously, or un­der­stand that it’s more than just a food in­tol­er­ance. For those who suf­fer from it, eat­ing gluten can cause very un­pleas­ant symp­toms and be dan­ger­ous to long term health. It might help if you could ex­plain the dis­ease to your son’s friends’ par­ents too. Per­haps you could ask that they only give their chil­dren gluten free snacks when your son is with them, so he isn’t left out.

Con­tact Hi­lary via email at agony@ thejc.com, anony­mously or not. Or write to her at 28 St Al­bans Lane, Lon­don NW11 7QF

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