Wow – this is huge! After talking with Chloe’s principal, teacher and touring the cafeteria and wipe-down process, I was finally comfortable with the idea of hot lunch. Chloe had been asking to do it, and I was hesitant. She hadn’t had a school meal (except for the snacks in her classroom) since her cross-contamination incident last May. That story is also on the blog under “Mom Stuff” and it sent her to the ER for anaphalaxis symptoms.
Hot lunch at her school is great. It’s 100% organized and run by a parent committee. There is a designated nut-free table, which she has some great friends at, and never eats alone. All of the hot lunch items are 100% nut-free and most of them are made right up the hill at the high school cafeteria. On Mondays and Thursdays, the meals come from a sub shop and pizza place – both of which we frequent and know they are 100% safe. I decided to choose the sub sandwich day to “try out” hot lunch for her. She was OVER THE MOON excited to eat like the big kids. I hid my anxiety on Monday and just checked my cell phone every 5 minutes over the lunch hour. My phone never rang, and when I picked her up, I could breathe again. She did it. She’s safe. WE DID IT. This was a victory for everyone, especially ME who has seen her have two awful anaphylactic episodes.
This tiny moment was HUGE for her. Excitedly, with hair bouncing and voice squealing, she told me all about it – every thing on her sandwich, how she walked through the line, and where she ended up sitting. She didn’t know if there was going to be chips served with the sandwich (like we do at home) or a dessert, so she told me she would ONLY stick to the sandwich, no extra stuff incase it was offered.
What a smart cookie she is. I’m so proud of her, and I told her what a big, responsible girl she was being by managing her own allergy.
Baby steps. It’s hard. It’s hard to let go just a little bit. Hard not to control every environmental factor that could possibly lead to danger. But what brings me peace of mind is her school and how well Chloe has handled herself. She’s older now. She’s aware. She knows the consequences, and she knows what she can have and not have. It’s OK for me to let her do these things, and let go a little bit and still be cautious. These things are good and she is safe. There are epi-pens in the cafeteria if something accidentally happens, and hopefully we will never have to use them. But they are there, just in case. And I need to have faith in her school and the amazing professionals that are there with her each and every day.
It will never be easy, but it’s getting better. And now she wants to try the pizza hot lunch. I’m totally OK with that.