What I Wish You Knew About Me, Teacher...
There is no time of year that I feel more anxious about my kids' food allergies than I do right now. I wish I could say that my back-to-school fears have subsided over the last nine years that we've been walking this road, but they haven't. It's hard every, single year. And, I think it's so important to be honest about that. To all of the amazing teachers out there, this post is straight from my heart... My hope is that my words will provide you with insight and shed some light into the hearts of moms like me. Thank you for all that you do for our kids every day, and please know that even in our anxiousness, we allergy moms could not be more GRATEFUL for you.
The first thing I want you to know about me is that I'm so grateful for you. As a former teacher myself, there's no one who knows better how hard your job is. I appreciate every morning that you wake up and devote the majority of your day to teaching and caring for my child.
I wish you knew how hard this time of year was for moms like me, though. It always is. Of course I want my child to thrive academically and build strong friendships and love being a part of your class. And, I worry about these things like any mom does. But, for me it goes deeper than that.
My child has food allergies.
And, I want you to know how anxious I feel sometimes, especially right now.
I wish you knew how it felt to send my child to school every day - outside of my watchful eye - and wholly trust others to keep him safe, knowing full well that not everyone truly understands food allergies in the same way I do.
I want you to understand that while my child's physical safety is paramount, his emotional well being is just as crucial. Every time you give food out as a reward in your classroom, or make food the central point of your lesson, you are setting him apart and making him feel different. I wish you understood what that did to his spirit. I can think of a million ways to have fun and engage your students without food, and I will always be here to give you ideas.
Please know that I'm incredibly intentional about building strong relationships with my child's teachers every year, and I promise to do the same with you. But, that takes time. I hope you'll be as patient with me as I promise to be with you.
You're going to have to be intentional this year, too. You may have to change procedures and do things differently in than you have in the past to keep my child safe. You will have to communicate with me more than the average parent, especially if food is involved in the equation.
And, I hate adding all of this to your plate.
If I'm really honest, I actually feel guilty sometimes about the extra work that my child requires of you, even though we all know that food allergies aren't anyone's fault.
I wish you knew how much I hate confrontation. I despise making other people uncomfortable. But, I love my child more than I will ever be able to articulate. And, that is why I will always speak up and advocate fiercely for him. Please understand the context of everything I do and say this year: it's out of absolute love for my child.
I'm only doing what you would be doing if you were in my shoes.
I want you to know that 1 in every 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy - that's roughly 2 kids in every classroom.
That number doesn't take into account all the kids who have other dietary issues like diabetes, celiac disease and food intolerances that affect their gastrointestinal systems but don't lead to anaphyalxis... or, those whose parents have them on special diets because of ADHD, autism or weight control.
So, all of this food talk? It's so much bigger than just my kid. Please know that every time you open your heart to my child, you are paving the way for others who will come behind him.
I wish you knew the positive impact my child's former teachers have had on his heart. His teachers are some of the most special food allergy angels in his life. You have the potential to have such a significant impact.
I want you to know that I will always be here for you. We are teammates and partners this year.
And, most of all, my child is SO much more than his food allergies. I can't wait for you to see this for yourself.
Every Food Allergy Mom I Know