Do I Like My Child’s Teacher? Not Really.

sadmaxie

I knew my sweet little Max would have a hard time transitioning into a full-time student his  kindergarten year. He was the kind of kid who loved arts and crafts, sports and games. Sitting still and being quiet was not his thing. Being told he was doing something wrong hurt his feelings, which in turn made him angry. The entire summer before school started I worried.

The school year started and I signed up to be the room mom  hoping my constant  presence in the classroom would help him. I tried everything I knew how to do to help him like school. I read all the books. I read all the blogs. I asked advice from my friends. Nothing seemed to help.

A typical day in the life of kindergarten Max went something like this:

I would try to get him dressed for school, but he would hide under his bed, just out of my reach. I would beg and plead and bribe him to get dressed. I would go to the kitchen to get his backpack and down the stairs Max would come with his pajamas back on. Some days he said he hated school and didn’t want to go. Somedays he pretended he was sick. Everyday was a battle.

He came home from school crying at least once a week saying he had had a bad day. Sometimes I got calls from his teacher saying the same thing.

He had a great teacher. I really liked her and spent so much time in the classroom, we became good friends. Even still, Max struggled.

Summer came and it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off both of our shoulders. We enjoyed every last drop summer had to offer.  In the back of my mind was the nagging fear of what first grade had in store for us.

The first time we met Mrs. Reiber, was a week before Max started first grade. Max and I went in for a reading assessment…. he cried the entire way there. She is just one of those people who emulates warmth and kindness.  He visibly calmed in her presence. I liked her immediately.

The first day of school came and Max was pretty hesitant to go, but we had no major problems. After school he said his day was “fine”.  The next morning he was dressed and ready for school before breakfast. He never again cried before school. He never again said he hated school.

He came home everyday saying his day had been “really good”. He always told me the funny things Mrs. Reiber did. He told me the books she read to him. One day he came home visibly beaming because Mrs. Reiber had told him that he was a good reader. He was always drawing her pictures or making her cards. Getting homework  done was no longer a fight. He wanted to do his homework and he wanted to do it well, so Mrs Reiber would be proud of him.

At Thanksgiving that year, we went around the table saying things we were thankful for and Max’s response was his teacher. I was thankful for her too.  So thankful.

He grew leaps and bounds his first grade year. He was reading at grade level. He was happier. He loved school. He was excited to learn. He was everything I had tried so hard to help him become.

On the last day of school Max was devastated he wouldn’t get to have Mrs. Reiber as a teacher anymore. He talked about her all summer. That was the summer he started telling me he wanted to be a teacher when he grows up.

Two years later, Alexa is now in Mrs. Reibers class. Same story, different kid. She adores her teacher. She wants to cut her bangs like Mrs Reiber’s . She reads to me at night and holds the book the way Mrs Reiber holds books. Everyday, the first thing out of her mouth is “Mrs Reiber thinks this…” or “Mrs. Reiber does that…”.  She always wears her black shoes because Mrs Reiber said they were cute. One night, I was tucking Alexa into bed and she said ” I love you Mom, but I love Mrs. Reiber too”.

So why would I not like this Mother Teresa of a teacher? Because saying I like her seems too  inadequate of a statement for someone who has had such a deep impact on my children.  I have so much love in my heart for this teacher who taught Max the only thing I have ever truly wanted him to learn… to love school, to love learning and to love himself.

Mrs Reiber,

I stand in awe of you.  You have had the most important job. You have had the hardest job. You have walked the delicate line of mother, teacher, and friend everyday in your classroom.  You have been a nurturer of little spirits. For a year of his life, you were who Max  wanted to share his hopes and dreams with. You were the one he looked up to everyday.  Thank you for your dedication, your passion, your love and your stability. You have inspired thousands over the course of your career. Enjoy your retirement!!

Sincerely,

Haylee

reiber

Top 5 Things to Do With Children Who Have Food Allergies

Top 5 Things to Do With Children Who Have Food Allergies

Eleven years ago, I sat at an allergists appointment with my two-year old, and listened as the doctor told us he was severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Foreign words like anaphylaxis, Epi-Pens, and emergency action plans were being thrown at me.  I was frozen in fear looking at my sweet toddler and his red, swollen back.  I knew he could never eat peanuts or tree nuts, basically any nut ever again, but other than that, I had no idea what to do.

Over the next few months, checking ingredients on packages became second nature. I knew which brand of chocolate chips I could use and what restaurants were safe. We had Epi-Pens and Benadryl on hand everywhere we went. We educated our family members and babysitters on how to keep Owen safe. I pretty much felt we had this whole food allergy thing under control… and then he started kindergarten.

We live in an amazing school district which happens to be peanut free. Teachers and office staff are trained to administer Epi-Pens. Our Allergist gave us an emergency plan to have in place while Owen was at school. I even bought a book called Allie the Allergic Elephant and had his teacher read it to the class on the first day of school to help educate the children.

Even with all of those safety nets in place, I was still a nervous wreck every time he left the house. Food allergy scenarios flooded my mind constantly…

What if he finds a piece of candy on the playground and eats it and can’t breath?”

“What is something happens on the bus, where there is no Epi-Pen?”

“What if someone eats peanut butter for breakfast and has it on their hands and then touches him?”

The list went on and on. I would literally make sure my phone was within reach at all times while he was at school. One time the school called me (about a PTA matter) and my heart started pounding so hard when I saw the number on my caller ID. I thought something had happened to him.

The elementary school years were rough. Kids would bring treats to school to celebrate their birthdays that he couldn’t have. He would attend birthday parties were they were serving peanut butter cookies. There was even a bout of food allergy bullying.

Looking back, I wish I had a food allergy mom handbook. Ideas, tips, etc to help us along that bumpy road. I gathered together all my top tips for mammas with little ones who have food allergies. I hope this helps.

Top Five Things To Do With Children Who Have Food Allergies

PEAN

Educate, Educate, Educate

My number one tip is to educate everyone around you. Anyone who comes into contact with your child.  This includes family members, teachers,  neighbors, other parents, bus drivers. EVERYONE knew Owen was allergic to nuts. We practiced with the Epi-Pen trainer. I bought this book and had Owen’s teachers read it to his class on the first day of school so even the children in his classroom were educated. These posters hung on the doors of his classroom. The more people who are aware of the allergy, the safer the child will be.

Epi-Pens Everywhere

Every year, I order two twin packs of Epi Pens (or Epi Pen jr’s when he was small). They cost a small fortune, I know. We keep one at home, one in my purse, his school teacher always has one in her classroom, and the nurse keeps one in her office as well. Before Owen was in school, my Grandma kept one at her house because he was there a lot. In the summer, I would take the Epi-Pens  and give them to neighbors. That way, if Owen was at one of their houses playing, there would be one there as well.

Owen is now is Jr High. He wears a SPIBelt around his waist with an Epi-Pen in it.  This has been a life saver! I remember when he was younger, wondering what in the world we would do when he was a teenager. The SPIBelt is a must!

BYOT {Bring Your Own Treats}

Every since Owen started school, I would make a huge bag of safe treats for him. They included Rice Crispi treats, Cheez-Its, Chips Ahoy, little bags of Skittles, Gold Fish, etc. I would put everything is a huge ziplock bag, write his name on it and give it to the teacher on the first day of school. That was his treat bag for the school year. If anyone brought in treats to celebrate birthdays or even class parties, he got to pick something out of his bag to eat. I knew he would still get a treat, but it was something safe for him to eat.

Always Read Labels

At the beginning of our food allergy journey, I checked and double checked everything he ate. Then, I got to the point where I knew what brands he could and could not eat.  Then, one day, I happened to notice that the label had changed on the plain chocolate Hershey bar. It use to say “Contains Milk”, but now it had a “Processed on equipment that also process almonds”. Suddenly, Hershey bars were no longer on our safe list.

Just remember, ingredients change. Companies change the way things are processed. Always double-check.

Medical Alert Bracelets

I ordered these bracelets in every color.  I also ordered some temporary tattoos. I felt more at ease knowing he never left the house without a medical alert notification of some sort. The bracelets were great because he would wear them all the time, he could switch out the colors if he wanted, and they were soft and didn’t bother him.

I hope some of these tips help all you food allergy mammas out there! Let me know if you have other ideas!

Xo-Haylee Continue reading “Top 5 Things to Do With Children Who Have Food Allergies”