Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Ella out of her bubble

Last winter, when Ella was an infant, I had a pretty rough time. I can admit that now, but at the time I think I was trying very hard to convince myself that I wasn't depressed and everything was a-ok. But when you have a newborn during cold & flu season and the weather is crappy, it's very easy to stay home all day, every day. I'm ashamed to admit this but I know there are moms out there who have been there -- I would go days without showering & changing out of my pajamas. My shirts all reaked of sour breastmilk & I had spit up in my hair. I was lonely and sad a lot.

This winter, now that she's more mobile and has lots of energy to burn, I am determined to get out more, both for my own sanity as well as for developmental, educational & social stimulation for our daughter. I've got her signed up for a tumbling class, story time at the library, a music class and an Early Learning program through our local elementary school.

One of the things I bring up whenever I sign up for anything is what their policy is regarding snacks. Every one of our current activities has a strict no peanuts rule -- which is such a relief and since most of the classes are short so there's no opportunity to eat anyways. Last week, when I was enrolling in the Early Learning program, the teacher let me know that there would be a snack time so I should bring something for Ella to eat. *Cue the heart palpitations* I immediately asked how they handle the toddlers eating. Do they eat while they're playing with the toys? Do they have an opportunity to possibly share their food? She had already told me they don't allow peanuts and reassured me that the toys are put away prior to food being taken out & that there was no sharing of food allowed. I felt a little better but still went home feeling a little uneasy. Hubby told me that I was overreacting but I didn't think I was... This being our first child & not having any experience in this kind of a setting, I just don't know what to expect. As her parents, it's our job to keep her safe and make sure that we make the proper people aware of her allergies so that they can help us keep her safe. I don't think that having an open discussion about it with her teacher is overreacting. If I had decided to not enroll her in the program because there would be possible allergens in the room, THAT would be overreacting.

Last night, the teacher called me to ask for more information on her allergies and asked if I would be OK with her e-mailing the currently enrolled parents to let them know that there would be a child with some food allergies coming to class and to re-iterate the no-peanut policy. She went on to say that she was going to start asking parents to use hand wipes on their little ones before class starts and then after they've eaten, before the toys come back out. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and thanked her profusely. I'm still not comfortable approaching parents on my own to ask them to do things like that but if the program director will do it for me?! I am all for it! It's nice to know that I can relax a little and let her just be a curious toddler without constantly hovering to make sure there's no forbidden foods passing through her little lips.

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