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April 6, 2010
I recently toured a preschool on behalf of my 20-month-old daughter. I’m looking to enroll her in a program that starts next fall but it turns out I’m way behind. I made the rookie-parent mistake of applying too late and landed on the waiting list. However, the preschool kindly invited me for a tour in case a spot opened.
As I walked with two other mothers through colorful classrooms dotted with artwork and cubby holes neatly filled with toy dinosaurs and dress-up clothes, I honed in on the miniature chairs surrounding an equally miniature table with a snack laid out--goldfish, pretzels and nilla wafers. Gluten!
Here it was, the first time I had to face the fact that my daughter would be plunged into a gluten-filled world--without me managing it.
Before I could inquire about snack time and special diets, another mom on the tour spoke up.
“How do you handle food allergies? My daughter has a severe egg and dairy allergy.”
I wanted to hug her. It was such a relief that other prospective parents at this preschool had similar concerns. The director explained that the school was quite comfortable handling special diets. Teachers are made aware of food restrictions and are equipped to administer epi injections, if necessary. In addition, the preschool is nut free, and those children with special diets typically bring in their own snacks.
I liked this last part. I could still send her off with a safe gluten-free snack and expect the teacher to keep tabs on her–making sure she eats her own food and doesn’t trade up. The arrangement sounded like the perfect, toddler-size step toward food independence–for both of us.
Now she just needs to get into this preschool. We’re number 11 on the waiting list.