A most disturbing experience occurred about eight years ago at the CNN exhibition in Toronto. We presented our Earth to Body Skin Care booth in the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies building, excited for the 18-day adventure. This indoor setting included vendors, like us, who hand make their own products. We have sold there for close to 17 years, until, sadly, Covid closed us down. 

A mother came by with her young teenage son, who reluctantly plunked himself down in our customer chair, looking totally like he wished to be anywhere but where he was. His mother barely said hello before she proceeded to poke and prod her son, hoisting up his shirt sleeves and yanking down his collar to reveal the worst case of eczema I have ever seen. He sat there like a rag doll, rolling his eyes as far away as possible from both of us. Resigned to his fate. 

She prattled on non-stop, explaining how many doctors she had seen, the hospital visits, the prescriptions, the creams, the hours of agony she had spent on dealing with her poor son’s eczema.

I listened, in shock. The teen said nothing. If I directed a question to him, his mother answered for him, solidifying her leadership. 

I could tell from early on that she had no interest in our natural products, no interest in perhaps learning something new, no interest other than her raison d’etre.  She definitely had no interest in buying and I am quite OK with that. People need not make rash decisions. But it truly was a one-sided oration. She was alive with a knowledge she needed to share.

I might have asked myself, “What was she even doing in my booth? “But I was pretty sure I understood the ‘why’. She needed confirmation that she was fulfilling her role as care giver. By rehashing all what they had been through, the numerous hospitals, professionals, creams, the cortisone, light therapy, medication. The few words I managed to offer, salt baths? detox? clay? She stopped me cold with her shaking head, saying and no, no, no good. I too, was silenced. 

I was a sounding board, fulfilling a desperate need. I felt sad for both of them. The mother’s obsession was not healthy and the suffering teen was definitely a victim, not only of his skin condition but also by the imposed restrictions. There would be no discussion of diet, environment, nutrition. There was only the one road to Rome.

As they gathered themselves up to leave, the boy nodded a silent thank you, which I thought was most courageous of him. He seemed to know that part of my silent acquiescence was to save him an embarrassment. I did have knowledge to share, but the opportunity never surfaced. 

I often wonder if this young man ever managed to find his healing journey. I wonder if his well-intentioned mama ever found her peace.