Friday, August 17, 2007

An unexpected benefit of food allergies (or desperately trying to see the glass as half full)

Today is the first of several BIG days for Big Guy. We are off to the doctor for his 5-year visit. This morning he gets to pee in a cup (to which he said "that's gross, mommy"). And then he gets to get shots and I know he'll scream and cry (he did better with shots when he was a baby, now he knows too much).

While at the doctor enjoying all that, I also have to review all my food allergy paperwork for kindergarten: action plans, medicine release forms, etc. Lots to do!

Then we are off to his new school to meet the nurse, drop off all the meds (Benadryl and epi-pen) and discuss how to deal with the food allergy. Does the epi-pen have to be in the kindergarten room? I guess it should be in there, why not?

THEN Big Guy gets to meet his teacher, Mrs. C. THIS IS THE BENEFIT OF FOOD ALLERGIES. He gets to meet his teacher and see his new room BEFORE anyone else. Hurrah!

I've already talked to her on the phone twice (and she sounds very nice and friendly, I think I want her to be my teacher) to set up this meeting and then she called me back to clarify the snack "procedure" at kindergarten.

By the way, the snack procedure is that each parent picks a day in the month to bring in snacks for the class. But the good news is that there are 5 snacks to bring in ... pretzels, goldfish, teddy grahams, graham crackers and chex. She said they will send home a letter to tell parents that there is a child with peanut allergies in the class, so no Chex mix, etc. I'd like to point out that he is fortunate in that he can be around peanuts and even eat things that were manufactured on a line that also manufactures peanuts ... but he can't actually eat peanuts.

Okay, Big Guy can eat all of these things. I know there is some dairy in the goldfish and possibly the teddy grahams (though I have to check the label, that might be safe too), but he can tolerate that little bit of dairy. He has eaten ALL of those things a lot with NO problems.

I think that he should be able to eat with all the other kids. I know the nurse is going to suggest I have a box of snacks just for Big Guy, but I don't know why he should do that. YES, I do know why ... she wants to be VERY sure that NOTHING he eats could have a stray allergen in it.

I am VERY conflicted on this. I want him to be safe, of course! I also want things to be as normal they can. The bottomline is that they're not normal for him. There are lots of things he can't eat. But knowing that and dealing with that (pretty well, I might add), why can't he eat the things he can eat? Does this make sense?

I have to talk to the teacher and the nurse today to get a better sense of their issues and desires. But I am leaning towards this approach:
  • letting him eat the snacks (if they send out the peanut letter)
  • leaving treats for him at the school for days when kids bring b-day treats and NOT letting him eat those things (basically he can only eat the 5 snack foods)
That is somewhat of a compromise, right?

Well, we'll see how the meeting goes. The nurse and teacher are VERY nice and so I see this meeting as a chance to just figure all this out, not a combative thing at all.

And the benefit, we get the early sneak peek into kindergarten. The rest of the class waits until Meet the Teacher day on Wednesday ... then school starts Thursday, the 24th!!!


allergicmom said...

Thanks for this post. We'll be facing these kindergarten questions next year, and it's nice to get a sneak preview.

I think your compromise is best. If you can let him have what's safe for him, then he'll feel that little bit more "normal" and like the other kids. And the other kids will feel the same way.

It's also great to get him to meet his teacher a little early -- what a nice treat for him!

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Good luck with the meeting! I think your compromise is a good one. If he can eat the 5 snacks on the list then he should. Let him be as "normal" as possible!!

Karen said...

Good luck - it sounds like you have a great teacher! YAY!. I totally agree that it is important for our kids to eat what the other kids eat as much as possible. I can also recommend making some cupcakes he CAN eat and leaving them in the freezer at school. Almost every month had a school-time birthday party - and it was always easier for my little man when he had a cupcake in the freezer the teacher could pull out.
I also "reward" my son for making hard choices...for instance, if there is a party and he isn't sure of the snack - and he chooses not to try it (which is what I ask him to do) then when I pick him up from school we go to the candy/toy store and he gets a special treat. Because it must be hard for them to turn down something special :(
Sorry for such a LONG COMMENT!

Angel said...

I briefly mentioned this in a post today--my son starts Kindergarten tomorrow!

Teddy grahams have no eggs, dairy or nuts. Ditto for Ritz crackers, Oreos, and I think most "gummies" (no cross contamination either--we don't give him anything that mentions possible nuts).

My son *loves* his special treat jar for the days when someone has a birthday. I pack it full of his favorite "junk foods". But we send a snack (though the teacher knows he can have fresh fruit & veggies if someone brings those in). He really is ok with it. He's never had a fuss over being "different". We don't treat it like a big deal (ok, though I've cried at stores reading labels) so he doesn't feel it's bad to be different.

I love his teacher--her son had severe food allergies, so she's going to be so careful with him, doesn't mind taking the epipen around to his different classes, etc.

I hope your son has a wonderful first day of Kindergarten and (((hugs)))) & tissues for you ;) I know I'm going to bawl my head off even though he went to PreK last year LOL