Lunch at the Allergy Table

The Kid's new school is still organizing staffing to supervise him at lunch time. He was a late registration due to multiple foul ups by the county school board offices, their school assignment minions, the techies responsible for designing and setting up the computer registration system, and specifically whatever genius decided to change the school choice registration period from August to July and neglect to inform any of the parents or school employees. So today I packed a sandwich and had lunch with The Kid to bridge a gap in coverage.
There are two other food allergy kids in the same Kindergarten class, a boy with a milk allergy and a girl with celiac disease. The Kid sits with them at a reserved section at the end of a table. The arrangement looks pretty good. There are kids walking by with trays full of scary school food, but at least my child isn't being isolated like the school originally proposed when they found out he had a peanut allergy.
I had completely forgotten the roar of the elementary school lunchroom. It was unbelievably loud. The lunch was also very fast paced. It hadn't occurred to me previously to go have lunch with him, but I'm really glad I did. Here's what I took away from it:
  • The Kid eats somewhat slowly, so I need to focus on keeping his lunches simple and easy to eat, rather than succumbing to bento envy and getting carried away fancying them up.
  • I also suspect he'd be happier eating something that looks more like everyone else's food, rather than something special, but unusual looking. If I hadn't known that the girl at his table had celiac disease, I never would have guessed that her sandwich was on gluten free bread or that there was anything different about her lunch. That might be the best way to go.
  • Someone on staff remarked to me how much The Kid loves his grapes, and he did eat them first. Lately I've felt the need to mix things up a little bit, but I'll probably restrain myself, since they're healthy and in season.
  • I tend to pack extra food, since I worry about The Kid getting hungry at school and being tempted to eat something unsafe. He does have an increase in his appetite during growth spurts, though, so I'm going to think carefully about the amount of food I'm packing for him.
  • The number of plastic baggies and single serving containers being thrown out was simply astounding. I chose an easily opened, single plastic container to put in The Kid's dinosaur lunch bag because of his fine motor problems. I didn't want him to spend time struggling to get to his lunch out, rather than eating it. There wasn't an environmental element to the decision originally, but now I understand why there's so much concern about lunchroom waste.
The rest of the day was, unbelievably, even crazier. On Tuesday, The Kid's teacher let me know there would be an activity on Friday relating to the story of "The Gingerbread Man," and could I please have a safe substitute for him by Thursday afternoon? Sure....I'd just have to adapt a recipe and hope it turned out in less than two day, while also going to work and baking an allergen free carrot cake, also still in the experimental phase, for my uncle's birthday.
I remember reading somewhere that stress isn't caused only by negative events in a person's life. Happy events are also supposed to be stressful. Lately my life has been a testament to that theory. The company I work for allowed me to transfer to a position closer to home, working exactly the hours I want, for which I am extremely grateful. However, I'm going through some new job stress. My mom, who is incredibly helpful in caring for my child and my home when she comes to visit, was here for over two weeks. I'm not sure if the stress is due to her coming, leaving, or both, but it's here! I have an overwhelming backlog of things to do around the house, my kitchen is about to be declared a disaster area, and the list of things I still need to bake is getting longer, rather than shorter. My blog has become a regular part of my life, but now I have about half a dozen posts ready to write, with the food already photographed, plus a visit to the Rainforest Cafe to describe, but no time to write them, or do the revamping of my sidebar that I've been planning for months.
So to all of you whose sites I haven't visited, or comments or emails I haven't responded to, I promise I'll catch up as soon as I can!


Unknown said...

I thought this post was really interesting. I am curious about what goes on at other schools at lunchtime. Your post also reminded me that I need to buy a couple more insulated lunchbags since my older child loses at least one each year. So, off to reusablebags.com. Looking forward to all the upcoming posts!

Jenny said...

Yes, the first year your allergic child eats lunch at school is super-stressful.

But from the sound of it, your school has it covered pretty well.

My daughter had a similar arrangement to yours at our old school and it went really well. I'm hoping the same for you!

Anonymous said...

Great Post (and so enlightening!). Bella's school has the same situation as well (although it baffles me as to why they don't take milk/wheat allergies more seriously - they've never asked me to limit what I pack for lunch for B). Hang in there this week. Oh, and I also finally added you to my blogroll (that only took me forever - I'm always swamped too!)

FoodAllergyMom said...

Thank you for sharing this post, luches have been weighing heavy on my mind lately too. As a matter of fact, since I am too lazy to post this on my own blog, I have a poll of sorts for you and your readers (if you don't mind). At my daughter's school they eat in their classrooms. Her classromm has been declared peanut free, all kids asked not to bring PB&J sandwiches. I know that that is all some kids will eat (I was one of them). All Emily will eat right now is sunbutter and jelly, so that's what I've been packing for her. Is that fair? Or should I make her eat luchmeat like the rest of the class is doing for her? No one has complained yet that I'm aware of, what do you think?