On Food Allergies and the First Day of School: She Was Okay

3 years ago

I breezed through the first day of school like an old pro today. I dropped my first grader off outside his classroom then made my way to kindergarten. My brave little girl sat stoically in her seat as I said my goodbyes.

I threaded my way through the kindergarten parents clustered around the donut table in the courtyard. Sniffling while their little babies said the pledge of allegiance for the first time behind the closed doors. My carefully averted eyes giving them privacy and refusing to allow their emotions to affect me. I didn't stop for a donut—or a tissue.

I waited in line at the nurse’s door. Standing behind the other parents with medications, allergies, and special needs; I checked my email. When it was my turn, I had my first chat of the day with the school nurse. I finished my business and went on my way. This year there was no trembling with guilt as I drove away to work. Though, I did drive home to do work. Maybe that is the difference?

I am only a few minutes away from the school and not forty-five. This first day I did not constantly worry about my children as they navigated the world of elementary school without me. Last year, not a second went by that I didn't think about Pork Chop and how he fit into his new school; I heard nothing until I picked him that evening after work. This year, I didn't worry. I told Pea before I left that no matter what, “She would be okay today.”

Three hours later, the school guidance counselor called to first tell me how precious my daughter was, and then to schedule a meeting to go over her food allergies. She mentioned how impressed she was at Pea’s command of her own dietary restriction. Of course, Pea has a clear understanding of her allergies and what she is able to eat. It is her life that is at risk after all, and I am not there to monitor her—though I did pack all of it myself.

Independence doesn't start after graduation from high school. An hour before school let out, I returned to the nurse’s office with the prescriptions that I had to have refilled for school and again got an update on my baby girl.

The first day of school and Pea had already visited the nurse for a small rash. The nurse laughed and told me what my daughter told her, “I’m okay today. My Mommy told me I was going to be okay today, so I am okay.”

And despite being spoken to by the guidance counselor and the school nurse on day one of kindergarten she was okay.

I was okay too.

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