Just FYI: Food Allergies Suck

At the risk of sounding like a mommyblogger: It's difficult to hear yet another thing your child's food allergies prevent.  Honestly, at times, it feels like my kids are going to end-up in some Food Allergy ghetto wearing a medical alert bracelet staring out through plexiglass at kids luxuriating with their peanut butter, quiche, and potato salad.

Yeah, I'm sad.  This is part of my process of getting over it, so bear with me.

Grace is 3 years old.  She's active, sensory "enhanced" (let's say), impulsive, and quite intelligent.  Channelled appropriately, those are all great qualities.  As it stands, I'm just glad when I come home and the house hasn't burned down.  She's shown a proclivity for sharp objects, flammable microwaves, and plumbing problems.

Anyway, 2 weeks ago, I got the ball rolling to get her into the new child care center/preschool we have onsite exclusively for employees.   The place is brand new, and it's nothing short of magical.  Seriously, I halfway expected St. Peter to greet us at one door and a choir of angels to suffuse the halls with music.  It's That Nice.

So, we paid the application fee and filled out the paperwork.  Today was supposed to be the final intake, meet the teacher, get a badge, and set a schedule day.  So, we start going over Grace's food allergies.

"So, she can be in the room with eggs, right?"

"No," my wife emphasized, "She breaks out if she's in proximity and swells-up like a balloon if she even touches them."  (The list at the moment is: Eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk/dairy, chicken, potatoes, garlic, and daddies with beards.)

[Staff exchange worried glances]

"Uhh...We serve eggs in open bowls in the room 'family style' two or three times a week in lieu of snacks.  Eggs are a great source of protein and we have the kids serve themselves..."  She proceeded to discuss open dishes of eggs, carafes of milk, and quiche prepared onsite.

Whitney got it immediately, but the palaver carried on for about 5 minutes until I finally understood the director and her staff were making sincere apologies, "This doesn't sound like a safe environment for her.  We're just concerned for her safety."  In other words: We can't keep your daughter safe with the way we do things.

So yeah, that awesome, work-subsidized preschool with the great facilities, highly trained teachers, and focus on Montessori learning styles?  My daughter can't go; she probably can't be in the same building.

My mood flopped from mild bemusement at the process (we were in a conference room with like an 'interview panel' of women) to bitter disappointment.  Once the shock wore off, I was sad, disappointed, and angry all at once.  I tried to keep a grip on myself and keep perspective, but I failed.  As we got into the car, Whitney (gently) said: "You know that was super rude, right?"

"Yeah, I'll apologize once I calm down."

I'm disappointed, but it might turn-out to be a blessing.  We've already enrolled her in a summer program in Georgetown and for the Fall term there as well, and Whitney came away with a strong indication that is where she needed to be.  We have bills to pay, and work to do on the house in the interim.

If I take a hard look at it, this whole thing was me trying to control the situation.  I kept insisting on the work preschool, to the point of causing an argument about it last Saturday.  I was forcing the issue, and I was wrong. I also wanted to have a little extra time each day with my (last, quickly growing-up) little girl before she got bigger, to get to see her play at lunch and things like that.  Ultimately, both are just me being selfish.  Maybe God just knew how fractious and distracted Daddy can be on that ride to and from work and kept us both away from it, but I'm still disappointed I don't get to at least try.


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