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