Yesterday, I ordered my daughter's medical alert ID bracelet. I ordered her name engraved on the front of the ID part of the bracelet, and on the back, I ordered the following:
Call 911 then
Call Dad: (Londo's cell)
I let her pick out the one she wanted, emphasizing the fact that this was a special bracelet which she would wear to school every day. She picked the one with pink hearts and white beads. It's very pretty, and she says she'll wear it and seems excited about it. But it's also so scary to me.
The Pumpkin will be starting at the Montessori school on August 31st. I am excited about this pre-school for so many reasons. I really think the Montessori method will be a good fit for the Pumpkin, and this school really impressed me with their facilities, their program, their teachers and staff, and well everything.
The only real concern I have, and it is a major one, is that the school is not a nut-free school. The Pumpkin will be in a nut-free room, but kids--those young, messy beasts who don't remember to wash their hands or be careful with things--will be bringing their lunches to school. The kids in classrooms that aren't nut free will be bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars with peanuts, trail mix with peanuts, peanut butter to dip veggies in, peanut butter cookies, and all sorts of things processed in facilities that also have peanuts. These items will be in the school, on other children's hands, on the playground, on the handles of doors, possibly in the rooms for shared activities.
I. Am. Terrified.
I'm trying not to dwell on it, cause it could paralyze me with fear if I let it. I'm trying to acknowledge it and plan for it. So I ordered her medical alert bracelet. We have up-to-date doses of the EpiPen for her school. And I'm going to order a few more things, including these fantastic labels for her lunchbox and bags that will make sure everyone knows that she has a peanut allergy (I found those through the Cool Mom Picks Back to School Guide 2010, which has some other really awesome things! You should check it out!).
However, the biggest thing I've been doing is trying to is teach my daughter the words she needs to ensure her own safety. Part of that is making sure she understands that she is allergic to peanuts, that peanuts can make her really sick, that she needs to ask if there are peanuts in food that people offer her or ask if the food was made in a place that also has peanuts. I've been telling her about it in normal conversation. I've been making special points of it when we are out and about, such as a recent stop at a bakery where we asked careful questions to ensure there were no peanuts there at all so she could have a special baked treat. And I've been using play to mimic what I do and she should do, such as when we were playing with dolls and she had her doll offer my doll some cake and I had my doll ask if it had peanuts or was made in a place that has peanuts (thankfully, it didn't, so my doll could have some apple cake!). I'm doing these things over and over again to drill it into her head.
I know this time of year is tough on all parents. We are all scrambling to get the gear our kids need, help our kids understand the transition to school, getting all the paperwork in, prepare to pack lunches, set up areas of the house for school work and notices, and all those millions of other things we do to get ready for school. And that doesn't even touch on the emotional prep we need to do for ourselves (my baby girl is going to a real pre-school, not just a daycare/pre-school!) and our kids.
I just never thought about all the added worry, prep and gear I would need with an allergic kid. I never considered that sending my child to school could be sending her into a danger zone that could have such severe health consequences. I never knew that I would be fighting back panic attacks at the thought of most kids' favorite lunch sandwich. Oh God. I'm having trouble breathing. That's probably irony.