Food Allergies and Co-op Preschools

Iron Gate Co-op Nursery School lurks on the horizon yet again. I don't have to work in the classroom until Mali turns two in November, but I still get to go to all the night classes, etc. starting in September. And Seymour is already working on the website as part of our maintenance hours (I dropped the newsletter reporter gig in favor of having Seymour do all that work this year. Perhaps I should have asked him first).

But that is all boring and irrelevant to anyone else's life.

Friends from Oportoland visited on Saturday (they were our afternoon guests; KV, PV, and kids visited earlier that day). Our Oportoland friends have a two-year old son who has anaphylactic food allergies to peanuts and dairy, plus a host of other food allergies that "only induce hives."

By the time they came over, the whole house was prepped. Leelo and Mali hadn't been given any allergenic foods for hours, Iz had been thoroughly briefed on what Thomas could and could not eat and what toys he could and could not play with, and everything within reason had been wiped down with disinfectant.

We had lots of snacks out--blueberries, homemade guacamole and chips, sweet potato chips, and carrots. All served in and prepared by kitchen ware that had been washed again beforehand.

We had a yummy dinner--veggie sushi that the kids got to make themselves, and kebabs of vidalia onions, sweet peppers, crookneck squash, and chicken tossed in fresh ground salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric.

My friend TP was grateful. She still couldn't entirely relax, but Thomas did not have a single reaction during their 4+ hour visit. This is a child who starts breaking out into hives and wheezing if he puts on an apron worn by someone who had eaten peanuts or milk earlier in the day. She said that it was so great to be with people who understood food allergies, as we did because of our experience with Leelo.

Thing is--and I wrote her about this later--Leelo's past dietary restrictions didn't make me better about food allergies. They made me a versatile limited diets cook. What made me understand the graveness of childhood food allergies was working in a co-op preschool with a child like Thomas and his mom, and going to meetings during which she described her child's condition and passed out all sorts of information on what we could do to help him stay healthy.

So, chalk up a bonus point for the co-op environment. I realize that not everyone has the time or temperament to join such schools, but I do think they are godsends for atypical kids and their families.

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