I thought of the same distressing memory today, as I have a hundred times before. Beginning to tell my stories, my family’s stories, and connect with others who deal with the same issues, has brought me great comfort. This afternoon, while I was sorting the recyclables, the memory of my food allergic (milk allergy, peanut allergy, tree nut allergy) son’s kindergarten Thanksgiving Day feast popped into my mind. This memory haunts me because I’m plagued with nagging questions of: “what if?”
On this particular day, the cute little kindergarteners dressed up like Native Americans, or Pilgrims, and all gathered together for a “feast,” in celebration of Thanksgiving. I had been volunteering that year as a class mom, so I was there. Had I not planned to be there, I would have sent in a “safe meal” containing all the usual Thanksgiving items for my son to eat. That wasn’t necessary because I was there volunteering, so I brought it with me, just freshly made, and still warm.
After all the children were seated, their teacher made an announcement that she understands that some of them won’t want to eat some of the foods, but she would really like for them to at least “try” the food before making a decision. So, with that she began calling the children to approach the table and make their plates.
That morning, I had a discussion with my son about how he cannot eat any of the food at the feast, and let him know I had a plate for him that I would give to him from home. He understood, because we have been through similar situations dozens of times. But, it wasn’t him I should’ve been worried about
My son’s row had been called to fill their plates, and right after I helped the kids fill their plates, I was going to hand my son his plate from home. As I was helping a kid, I heard the teacher’s aide yell my son’s name, and she said “Didn’t you hear Ms. X? Go fill your plate with a little of everything. No excuses, everyone
is tasting everything
When I heard this, I whipped my head up and saw my son sitting, obviously distressed. I dropped what I was doing, and ran over to tell the aide he couldn’t have any of the food because of his food allergies. Believe it or not, she looked shocked. I know for sure the school takes food allergies very seriously, but somehow this slipped through the cracks.
The thought which sneaks up on me sometimes is: What if I wasn’t there? Would my son have been bullied by this adult into eating food which can send him into anaphylactic shock? Or, would my son have stood up for himself at age 5 after being yelled at by an authority figure? The answer is, I don’t know. I would like to think I did my job educating him on his allergies. I would also like to think he was confident enough to stand up to an adult when his life depended on it.
I’m sure this isn’t unique to me and my son. I would have to think something like this happens every day. This is why I decided to blog about food allergies. I want to spread awareness and support for everyone dealing with this condition. Do you have a child with food allergies in school? Please consider sharing my story with your friends, family, or social media sites. I always appreciate feedback so I am reminded I’m not alone! Check out more posts: www.sharingcommunityoffoodallergies.com