Monday, September 11, 2006

Preschool Makes Me Panic

Quick disclaimer for all you non-parentals: This is an oh-my-gosh-my-baby-is-going-to-preschool-and-I’m-freaking-out post.

By way of a more appropriate introduction, Zane starts preschool tomorrow.

Until this morning, I thought I was really cool with it. He’s so ready to hang out with other kids, and the place comes highly recommended. They seem to take my concerns about his food allergies seriously. He loved the rooms when we went to visit earlier in the summer – they have trains! – and potty training is moving right along.

I first got an inkling that I wasn’t “cool” last Thursday when I forgot about the preschool open house. I had reminded SRH all week that we needed to be there at 6pm. Thursday morning, I referenced it at work. Thursday afternoon at 5:20pm, SRH calls me to ask, When are you getting home? I, with some vigor in my voice I’m sure, said I’m picking some scripts up at the grocery store. I’m just going to pick up a few things, and then I’ll be home. SRH said, We have to be at the preschool at 6pm don’t we?

It took me a few moments to respond.

Because, you see, I had totally forgotten about the open house. Not like it slipped my mind forgot, but completely like-SRH-was-talking-a-foreign-language forgot. Huh? I finally responded. (Because I’m super eloquent when I’m confused)

SRH reiterated what he said, and I beat feet and headed home.

The open house went fine. Zane had a great time and didn’t want to leave. I, however, continued on my great rampage of forgetfulness and didn’t bother to put the next two preschool dates – parents are supposed to attend – on my calendar. Instead I scheduled a meeting and a conference call for those dates and had to cancel them, much to my embarrassment.

But really, I still didn’t think that preschool was bothering me too much. SRH called it active avoidance, repression, and denial. I just said I was busy.

But this morning, I woke up with such a sense of anxiety that I can no longer deny it: Preschool freaks me out.

And to be sure, there are the normal mama pangs of seeing my boy growing up, but my particular panic is of a more immediate nature. Most of my concerns are purely neurotic, and I’ll probably post about them later, but I’m losing it about one thing in particular.

Oh Nuts!

I’ve been a little slow to catch on to the hysteria inherent in sending my peanut and tree nut-allergic child to preschool. I’m a member of a group for parents of kids with food allergies, and believe me, some of the other parents have been preparing for the send off to preschool/kindergarten with a vengeance for at least the past year. (I’m not kidding about this.)

This morning, I finally got what they were talking about. It is tremendously scary to put your child into the care of others when he has life-threatening allergies. Up to now, I have been very rational about it all. I’ve talked with the school’s director. The school is nut-free, and I’m training Zane’s teachers on the use of the Epi-Pen tomorrow morning after class. I’ll be supplying all of Zane’s snacks, and I have given the school an emergency action plan should Zane have accidental exposure.

So I’m very surprised to find myself huddled over my computer crying as I write this post. Why? Because there are just too many factors I can’t control. Other parents might not heed the “no nuts” rule. Kids might come to school with peanut butter on their hands, or there might be hidden nuts in a snack that Zane gets a hold of. Zane is particularly prone to a severe reaction because of his asthma, and I don’t know how to help others “get it”.

And even if they get it, have I prepared everyone enough to know how to respond? I’m not worried about exposure to milk and eggs. Benadryl will take care of that, but it’s not easy to plunge a needle into a little boy’s thigh - even if he’s dying. Because that’s the crux of it: Zane could die if he’s exposed. And I’m worried that I haven’t done enough to keep him safe. Even though, logically, I think I’ve done everything that I can, and a few months of school will probably convince me that these fears are unfounded.

I’m just really, really scared about it all.

And so there it is. I’m freaking out today, but I’ll take him tomorrow with a smile and hope – and prepare - for the best. This is one of the really hard parts of being a parent of a food allergic kid, but I won’t ever stand in his way because of my fears.

He gets to be just like the other little people going to school tomorrow: excited, unsure, and just fine.


Mom said...

Crap! Now you're freaking me out!

Zany Mama said...

We freak because we love.

Dustin said...

If only kids knew how nerve racking the first day of school is for their parents!

Zany Mama said...

Too true, Dustin. I am beginning to understand the reason that some parents believe that their kids "owe them". I mean, I'm going through a lot of emotional anguish for this child. I should at least be well taken care of in my retirement!