It still hasn't completely sunk in. My baby...in Kindergarten?! It is crazy how fast time flies. It seems like only yesterday when I was snuggling my sweet, cuddly babe in my arms. I knew this day would come but I wasn't really prepared for all of the emotions it would bring.
Kindergarten Round-up and buying school supplies did a number on my heart strings. Then we had enrollment and "Meet your Teacher" night. Seeing my little one walking the big halls of his new school made me cry (more than a little).
But I was also very excited for him, of course! Mason has been so excited about attending the "big school" with his brother for quite awhile now, so he was more than ready on that first day.
I had met with and was in close contact with the school nurse from early on this past spring to discuss handling his severe dairy allergy and what accommodations would be provided/needed. (More on this later!) Thankfully, I was feeling really good about our plan that was in place and have complete confidence that Mason would be in good hands!
We took a little family vacation for a few days before the "Big Day," and we're refreshed and ready to go. I took the obligatory first day photos, even throwing in some silly selfies with my Little Man (because that's what we do).
I had purchased these Kinnikinnick gluten-free and dairy-free Vanilla Glazed Donuts for a special treat on our vacation, but forgot them at home. But they were perfect for a special breakfast on this day. (Although, now I've created a monster who thinks he needs "something special" for breakfast every day!)
We will be providing Mason's lunch every day, which helps to ease my mind from the anxiety of not knowing the ingredients in the food on the regular menu. (I've always followed our daycare's menu to provide something similar to what the kids are having each day too.)
During lunch time, Mason was interviewed by the high school yearbook staff. When asked what his favorite part of school was so far, he replied, "Lunch!" When I asked he said,"it was so yummy!" :)
After school that first day, he told me about everything he did. I can tell he loves his new routine and environment because he hardly ever remembered anything significant about his preschool days that he just HAD to tell me.
Mason was just as excited for Day Two and couldn't wait to see his friends again. He was really excited about the day's lunch too (zucchini muffin and turkey & Tofutti cheese roll-ups!).
I sent a drink on Day One because I wasn't sure if the school was prepared (they are supposed to provide him with almond milk). He is also not supposed to throw his trash away in an effort to avoid touching allergens. So his half-full drink ended up leaking all over the hallway and classroom from his AllerMates lunch bag. (Oops!) I won't regularly send drinks with him so hopefully we avoid this happening again!
However, on Day Two, we received a call asking if Mason could have soy milk. My husband told them it was fine as long as the ingredient list didn't include any milk products. Later that evening I asked Mason how lunch went and he said, "I decided not to have a drink because I wasn't sure it was safe and I didn't want to get sick."
I was SO proud of him! I don't want him to ever feel like he has to eat or drink something if he is uncomfortable. I hope he always remembers to not take risks when it comes to this! He has always been super aware of his allergy and knows to ask if things are safe. Most of the time, even if someone tells him it is safe, he will wait and get assurance from myself or my husband before he truly believes it.
Teaching your child to be aware of their life-threatening allergy is kind of like teaching kids about strangers. You want them to be polite, but also stay far away. You also have to teach them in a way that makes them aware but isn't scary. I've always tried to find an age-appropriate way to talk to Mason about his allergy, and I have to say, after five years it finally feels like it's getting easier!
I was feeling really good about our experience so far, and after the first two days, I can say that it is definitely looking like it will be a positive experience for us all. I have confidence that my baby boy is safe, and that he is constantly learning to be an advocate for himself.
While I do miss our early morning drives together (we live a block from the school now), I am loving seeing my little angel-boy blossom during this major transition in our life!