Friday, September 07, 2007


Nowheymama is happy to present Katherine's first week of school, the semi-condensed version.

August 29: Met with Katherine's teacher, the Kindergarten secretary (our school district has a Kindergarten-only center), and the school district nurse (one nurse for five school buildings spread across town). Was less than pleased when the nurse said, "It's so nice to meet you," and I had to remind her that we've met. And spoken on the phone. Several times. Although Nurse had initially been the most helpful (as compared to Principal, who was absent from the meeting, and Superintendent's office), in this meeting she was obstructionist. She was concerned about the medications (Benadryl, TwinJect, and hydrocortisone) being in the classroom. Teacher wanted them in the classroom and was fine with it.
Nurse: "I just don't want to have to create a new policy for first grade, second grade and so on. I think whatever we do this year should be the policy from now on."
Nowheymama: "Yes, that's why the medication needs to be in the classroom as her doctor stated in his letter, the original copy of which you should have in Katherine's file."
(Don't mess with a protective mama and her raging pregnancy hormones, lady.)
Nurse "introduced" me to FAAN and remarked on how helpful their information is. "This document lists all of the stages of reaction you were just talking about, Mrs. Hatfield!" You don't say. I agreed that they are quite helpful, and hopefully did not express inner sarcasm.
Teacher was totally on my wavelength and was suggesting things before I could. I will go on all field trips. I will help with all classroom parties/activities. I will provide foods for K. to have during birthday parties, etc. Teacher will leave a note taped to her desk detailing K's allergy for any substitute teachers, and Secretary knows the treatment procedures, as does the teacher in the next classroom. Teacher encouraged me to call anytime and assured me she will do the same. I leave the meeting feeling hopeful.

August 30: Katherine and I attend Kindergarten orientation, which has been shortened to 45 minutes from its usual 90-minute length. I give Teacher K's box of meds, turn in the FAAN Food Allergy sheet to Nurse, and get clearance forms from Secretary. The chaos of the event worries me a bit, and I decide to speak with Teacher the next morning before school when I drop off K. Today is also K's sixth birthday. Apparently, we are "redshirting." Who knew? But I say this: her birthday is close to the cutoff date, and I wanted her to have another year to learn about her allergy before we sent her to school. Her understanding has increased so much. She sometimes even double-checks if something has dairy when I give it to her. This breaks my heart, but it also makes me so proud. This is what parents want: independent, free-thinking children who know how to care for themselves.

September 4: Scott and I drop off Katherine for her first day of school. After leaving her in the bus hall, I give the dairy-free snacks and my clearance forms to Secretary. I ask to read the labels on the crackers and pretzels Teacher keeps in her room. Secretary can't find them, so we go find Teacher, who tells me the brands. (They are fine.) Teacher asks what she can give Katherine for a reward instead of M&Ms. We agree on Skittles. I express concern about food on the bus that will take K. home. Secretary says she will call the transportation office. I tell Teacher that there are students from K's preschool in her class, and I worry that their parents might say something is safe for K. when it is not.
Teacher: "They think they understand."
Nowheymama: "Yes."
Teacher: "I will only listen to you."
Teacher reiterates that she will be calling me often, and I say call anytime.
I go home and spend Eli's naptime making a wreath (a wreath!) for the front door because I can't concentrate on anything else.
Katherine comes home on the school bus (We're letting her ride home because it's Kindergarten students only on a "van," otherwise known as a "short bus.") I reiterate the information about her allergy to her bus driver, who replies that he doesn't allow any food on his bus. Period.
Katherine loves school, she had a great time, and they had cookies for a special treat. "All the other kids had a different kind, but I had one of the special ones you sent, Mama. And guess what? I didn't feel itchy at all, all day!" Whew.

September 5, 6, 7: School continues to go well with Katherine eating only the snack I send for her each day. She loves school and wants Daddy to take her "as early as we can go" every morning. Eli is not adjusting so well. He can't wait to greet his sister as she gets off the bus, and was very angry with her the first day of school. As they almost never fight, we were surprised to see him haul off and hit her. I explained to a tearful Katherine that this was his way of saying he missed her and was sad that she left to go to school. He's gotten better each day.

So, the first week of school went well. I hope the rest of the year goes as smoothly.


  1. Wow, what a relief that things are working out well. And it sounds like Katherine likes school already, super! I hope that the rest of the year goes this smoothly for your family.

  2. That teacher sounds great - and yay you for doing the right thing for Katherine on the "redshirting."

  3. That's so awesome that your little one loves school. Nothing better than that, it makes all the pain of the negotiating worth it, doesn't it? Boo to the nurse. Yah for the teacher.

    However, I can't believe they use M&M's for rewards. Nothing like having a candy addict coming home on a sugar high.

    So on that note, please keep everything I write now in perspective...this is all based on my experiences, and in no way indicates you need to do the same.

    Boo to the teacher for not just saying that she'd just change to Skittles and not have any M&M's. Skittles and M&M's look similar, which is also why they make an excellent choice for your child so she doesn't feel singled out.

    However, all you need is a bunch of chaotic kindergartners, a mix-up of candies, and someone who thinks one or two won't make a difference. You've got a problem, if your kindergartner is that allergic to the M&M's.

    I would've chosen Starburst. They are different. Each piece is covered, which is a huge bonus. And they are bigger than M&M's...thus better in any little one's mind.

    Your child will appear more cooler and the kids in the class will wonder why there is a need for different candies. Thus education for the young kids...and then, they will help educate their parents when any food stuff comes into class. At least, this is what happened for my child.

    You cannot imagine the times I broke down in tears when a parent unexpectedly called me to confirm the allergies and food items for birthday parties and what not because their child had a meltdown since they wanted safe food for my child. It is beyond priceless.

    The golden rule though is to Be Prepared and ALWAYS bring your child's food to any playdate, party, or other social situation. Because people have the best intentions, but may forget because it's not their worry or obsession.

    Sorry for going on for so long about this, but I couldn't help myself.

    You are handling this great, and through you, your child is learning and being confident in her choices. I wish both of you the best in your kindergarten adventures. It will be awesome.

  4. You're a good mama - one of the little boys in my daughter's class has serious food allergies and his parents are distressingly careless about it. :(

  5. BandP - Yes, we are very fortunate to have the teacher we do. Her daughter has health issues, so she is extra-sensitive to Katherine.

    HWM - Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment!

    I, too, am not happy about the amount of sugar and treats that are given out at school, but I'm picking my battles. Supposedly, the school district is working on a new policy concerning healthy foods for parties and birthdays. I just wish they'd do away with food altogether and let kids bring in stickers or pencils for their birthdays.

    K's teacher also mentioned jelly beans as an M&M alternative, but I like your wrapped Starburst idea.

    As for educating the other kids about her allergy, that worked really well for us in preschool, and her teacher and I would like to continue that. (The nurse was worried it was a privacy violation.)

    Thank you again for all of your thoughts!

  6. Beck - we must have posted at the same time.


    I am a worrier by nature. I guess now that comes in handy managing K's allergy.

  7. Teacher made my eyes sting! Teacher sounds wonderful!

    Nurse made me feel like administering a shaking.

  8. Phew...that is a relief. The teacher really sounds like she will be an advocate for Katherine's safety......

  9. Ben told me this morning that he "hates" school - BUT we had a really wild/fun weekend where he got spoiled by BOTH sets of grandparents (lucky, lucky boy), so, ya know...
    YAY for katherines teacher - but I'm with those of you who really don't like the "candy as reward for good work/etc." method. Whatever happened to rewarding them with words? Encouraging, positive words? Or time spent with their favorite toy or activity in the classroom?
    Candy, BAH!