We recently enrolled our little one into day school and she was SOOOO (ooooo) excited to begin. That morning, she knew she would meet her teachers, see more kids and have fun! We had all of our paperwork handled and I was ready to drop her off at school for the first time. Well, I thought I was going to drop her off.
It turned out there were a few missing items needed to allow her attend, as her paperwork read she was allergic to nuts. Even though this is a peanut free facility, I would not able to drop her off until we had the new and necessary paperwork filled out. I was heartbroken. I almost cried there, because I had to explain to my daughter that she couldn’t go to school until we got her medicine (medical) papers filled out by the doctor who wouldn’t be available until the afternoon.
One of the hardest things in life, I’m finding, is trying to explain to a toddler that they cannot have or do something that other kids can have freely.
I admit I was internally frustrated with the facility for not providing this information earlier. I was a parent that signed my child up close to the first day, however I did double checked to make sure I had filled out everything and made arrangements to give any minor information that may have been missing, the day of class. So this new bump in the road was unexpected and caused me to have to go back on my word to my daughter. It’s a new facility and I was told she was the first child to enroll with life threatening allergies and they wanted everything to be right the first time. This I can understand, yet I didn’t feel any better.
As we walked against foot traffic and she noticed we weren’t going in the direction of the kids, she immediately asked to go to school repeatedly. Me, being emotional already, had to try to hold it together as I explained the new plan. I came up with a smashing alternative — Fruit Snacks and an activity! What toddler can resist Fruit Snacks?
Looking back, I was just as excited about her first day. I just knew I would pick her up and she’d run to me smiling, showing me all of the things she had done, and tell me a car full of stories that happened that day. Alas, I had to do something! I wouldn’t be defeated. I made several calls to the pediatrician & pharmacist to get all of the paperwork done and within one hour my little one was running into her class to meet her new classmates. Her first day of school!
An hour or so passes, and I get another phone call saying some areas of the paperwork needed further clarification and her Epi-Pen needed the original box with her prescription information on it. I would need to pick her up immediately until this information was processed. By now I’m pretty optimistic as I’ve done the impossible so far, maybe I could get this done quickly to allow her a full first day. Unfortunately, my hard efforts couldn’t make it happen as the paperwork could not be processed before the end of the day. I would pick her up early. In the event she was exposed to nuts, they wanted to be sure they handled it properly, thoroughly and safely.
I can’t blame them! This is my daughter’s life on the line. Although this is a peanut free school, another child’s parent could easily forget and pack some Peanut M&M’s or a granola bar with nuts, who could then share it with my daughter. It definitely was not a seamless application process, however it was necessary to ensure her safety. No should’ve, would’ve, could’ves if nut exposure occurs.
The facility manager and I laughed over how crazy the morning had been and that I am grateful they take this process extremely seriously. Initially frustrating, but I saw that light. The inconveniences I experienced in this one day, is nothing compared to losing a child to an allergy due to a lack of information or preparation on the facilities behalf. Or because I wanted her to experience the perfect “first day of school” I replayed in my mind. I almost lost sight of what’s most important. Almost.
That day we also helped pave the way for future parents of children with life-threatening allergies. And that makes me smile to know that my situation heightened their awareness of allergic needs. It’s a learning experience for everyone. And although accidents can occur despite how prepared one is, I feel confident we all took a step back to make sure important information and procedures were in place.
That same afternoon, I was catching up on my current events and read an article that still makes my heart ache. A mother lost her daughter to a peanut allergy while she was at school. It became more apparent to me that my inconveniences could not compare to losing a child. I’d rather have a facility ruin my day’s plans to properly handle and distribute allergy information amongst the staff on Day 1, than to have a child one day and not the next.
As you navigate through life, please emphasize the importance of allergy awareness to your childcare providers. Above and beyond what they want. Go over the allergy plan with the teachers, managers, family, friends and anyone else who may be in contact with your child. One day Epi-Pens will be mandatory in childcare facilities and schools along with training of all staff & teachers. Until then, we must do it!