By Kelley Lindberg
My son just entered high school this year. Talk about big changes for him – new responsibilities, new friends, new social events, new teachers, new principal… the list goes on and on.
There’s been a big change for me, too. My safety net of familiar teachers and administration has vanished. I have to start my “educating the educators” efforts all over again, with teachers who don’t already have an attachment to my son and who may not have had allergic kids in their classroom before (since he’s old enough that we always seem to be paving the way).
Fortunately, when I asked the vice principal if he thought I could present food allergy information to all the teachers at a staff meeting, he said it sounded like a good idea. He asked the principal, who also said it was a good idea. So last week, I found myself in front of about 25 teachers, trying to accomplish three things:
- Educate them about food allergies and how to keep all allergic kids (not just my son) safe.
- Keep from embarrassing my son.
- Keep them from thinking I am going to be one of those “trouble-making mothers.”
I think it worked. Even though I’ve given this presentation nearly every year to my son’s school, other schools, and even other organizations, I was still incredibly nervous. It’s nerve-wracking knowing that you could, with a single slip-up, sour your son’s teachers on him. Or worse, upset his burgeoning social life. But I was able to keep a sense of humor, answer a lot of questions, hopefully reassure them that they can handle a reaction if it happens, and get them thinking about ways to prevent contamination in their classrooms. Not only will this help my son, but it will lay groundwork for the growing number of allergy kids that will be coming along in the next few years.
As scary as it is, I highly recommend asking your school’s principal if you can “educate the educators” about food allergies, too. To help you out, here is a link to the handout I give to all the teachers and staff: School Staff Presentation. I just go over what’s on this handout, then answer any questions (there are always a lot!). Good luck. Just channel your mama bear (or papa bear), know that you’re helping your child as well as many other children, and feel the love from all the rest of us mama/papa bears out here in allergy-land!