My son started nursery this week.
Not because I am worried about leaving him; I’ve left him before. Not because I am worried he won’t enjoy it; I know he’ll love it.
But because I am worried he will die.
I know that sounds extreme but it is the reality of raising a child with severe allergies. The reality of knowing an everyday food item could kill them.
Now, of course, I have taken every precaution to make sure this doesn’t happen. I have met with the nursery staff, put procedures in place and cemented a care plan. I would never leave him if I wasn’t confident he was as safe as possible.
He is only 2 and a half so I could wait. But I know he is ready and I know he needs that extra stimulation. My husband and I are very keen that J gets to lead a normal life and have the same opportunities and experiences as other children.
But the problem is he is not exactly like other children.
He looks the same, he acts the same, it doesn’t seem like there anything wrong with him. And there isn’t. Until he comes into contact with one of his allergens.
This can be a difficult concept for other people to accept. When I had the meeting with the nursery managers to discuss J’s needs, one of them initially suggested it would be OK to leave milk on the side, as long as there was a big red line that J knew he wasn’t allowed to cross!!
I had to explain that this was the equivalent of telling other parents there would be a bowl of rat poison in the room – but don’t worry we’ve told your 2 year old not to touch it!
Luckily, once they understood the severity of the situation – and after a bit of prodding about discrimination and inclusion – they have been great at adapting for J and have taken every step I have asked, and more, to protect him.
I am excited to watch him grow and learn at nursery and feel happy I have made the right choice.
But I will still be sitting by the phone, crossing my fingers that he comes home safely.