Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What do you worry about with 1st day of new school?

I often wonder "what do average parents worry about when their kids go back to school?" Do they worry about fitting in? Getting along with the teachers? Bullying? Do they worry at all?  Quite honestly, with my son, I really don't worry at all.  As long as he is smiling when I leave I know he will be happy, healthy and enjoying school.  Plus, he's really to young for me to worry about things like bullying or fitting in.  But with Alexa it's a whole different ball of wax.  Alexa starts her first day of 1st grade at a new school tomorrow.  For some reason I'm more anxious about this year than her first year of kindergarten.  I suspect it's because this spring she had her first anaphylactic reaction since diagnosis at 18 months.  Once a reaction occurs it's a reminder about what can happen and that quick treatment is required.  Starting any new school brings questions and concerns, it's just different for us.  I remember last year many mothers were worried their child would get lost in the building and not know where to go.  I remember thinking "really? If that's the worst thing that happens to her I'll be grateful."  I never once worried she'd get lost in the building.  I worried she'd have a reaction and an adult would dismiss it, miss it, not have her Epi Pen or panic and not administer her life saving medications.  I worried she would end up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital--or worse.  The hardest part about this is when you realize most other parents don't really understand this fear.  I remember a parent last year saying to me "Whatever anxiety she's feeling about school is coming from you." I was so taken aback.  She was right to some degree but it made me realize parents with healthy "normal" kids don't always "get it".  My child could die if an adult does not recognize her symptoms, have medication on hand or act fast enough.  Do you ever worry your child will die at school?  I suspect most parents do not.  This is part of life with severe food allergies.  We have to learn to trust, breath deep, take safety precautions, educate and pray our children will be safe and fine.  I won't lie, it's incredibly difficult for a control freak like me to let go and trust others with Alexa's care.  But what choice do I have really? I could home school her but I fear that would rob her of the social experience of school friends, learning on her own, learning to live in the world with her allergies and learning to grow apart and separate from her control freak Mom (ha ha).  So tomorrow Alexa will start 1st grade at a new school.  I will educate her teacher and school nurse, drop off her medications, provide her with safe food and I will smile and kiss her goodbye.  But it will be a difficult day for me.  I will try to trust and relax but will be waiting for dismissal time so I can breath a sigh of relief that day one went well for my baby girl.  


  1. As you wrote in your article:

    "Do you ever worry your child will die at school? I suspect most parents do not. This is part of life with severe food allergies."

    I feel like crying when reading this. Sept 2012 will be my daughter's 1st day of Kindergarten in a new NYC Public School that allows peanuts. I feel the exact same way as you.

  2. Lisa-I'm glad you connected with the post. I just reread it and it's amazing to look back. She's had a wonderful year. The first month was tough but I joined the PTA and got to know the principal. As a result, we've had a great year (with a few minor issues) and the entire staff was trained on anaphylaxis and Epi Pen use, also every teacher who has her has set of Epi Pens. That was a big change from the 1st day when I heard "oh, NO I can't have her Epi Pens in the class, talk to the nurse." Her teacher and I are now great friends, the school as agreed to provide cheese sandwiches on field trip days when they eat in the class, and she sits at a peanut free table. Geez-now I need to blog about our year! LOL. Deep breaths-good luck. What school?

  3. She will be attending a Public School in Staten Island and I would love your advise on how to educate everyone at the school (including teachers, assistants and other staff that will be with her.) I also have a few topics that you may be interested in writing about. Is there a way I can contact you via email?

    1. yes- happy to help however I can!

  4. Having a child with severe food allergies is really tough. You always worry about him or her in school that adults might not notice his or her allergy symptoms. All parents must be educated about allergy and what it will cause you child, with or without children experiencing food allergies.