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Southern New Jersey

I am a Mom to 2 amazing and fun daughters and wife to a great guy and a wonderful father!

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Kayla, my oldest. She is 4 1/2 and is a sweet, loving and silly little girl. She took us 2 ½ years and 3 IVF’s to conceive. Kayla is allergic to dairy. We manage her allergy and work to balance her safety with giving her a normal childhood. Kayla loves to read books and play games - she amazes me every day.

Alysa, my youngest. She is 3 years old and is a silly little spitfire. She’s our monkey and loves to climb on everything. She was a “natural” baby, but it was only b/c of my wonderful doctors that we were able to stop an impending miscarriage. Alysa suffers from Acid Reflux Disease and sleep apnea. She may be little, but she has a big personality. She adores her big sister and is so much fun to be around. She keeps me laughing every day.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008
Glad it’s Over
I’m glad that both today is over and Kayla’s school picnic is over. Let’s just say, Kayla got through without a reaction, but it is the first time I’ve been given something bad to say about them.

I will reiterate that Kayla’s teacher and TA (teacher’s assistant) were and are wonderful. So is the admin assistant (who is the one I’ve dealt with for all the preparations). It was decided that they would serve safe hot dogs and buns, macaroni and cheese, fruit and vegetables and safe Rita’s Water Ice. I had discussed in advance about having wipes there for the other adults to use to help the kids wash up after eating. I went in there with a tray of fruit and Kayla’s safe food (due to cross-contamination reasons, I still would not let her eat their food). Since we were told to get there 45 minutes before their classes end, I figured I could take the opportunity to help a bit with the set up. I stayed away from the food (fruit/veggie trays, soft pretzels and brownies) and helped with the juice boxes and water bottles. During, I remembered that Kayla’s “dairy button” was still in the car, so I went to get it. When I came back, the parents who had been preparing the pretzels were then helping with the juice boxes. So I quickly went to sealed packages and took out a juice box for her and opened the water so she could have a water bottle. I then took it upon myself (since the teachers were all occupied) to talk to the other parents and let them know about Kayla’s allergy and how sensitive she is and about the wipes, etc. They were all very receptive and understanding. I then was told by a TA that the director wanted to talk to me (she was in the next room). If I only knew what was coming…

She proceeded to tell me that I did not have to “worry” about dealing with or talking to the other parents. That I was only there to “take care of Kayla”. Her tone was very clear – what she was really saying was that I was not allowed to talk to the other parents and that I should keep to myself. I tried to explain to her that I was keeping Kayla safe and that part of that was making sure the kids eating the cheese were cleaned up after they ate (they were all going to be dancing after lunch). She told me that they would make sure the kids she was sitting next to were washed up. I told her that was not good enough because the kids could very well change places, etc. She even had the nerve to tell me that “they changed the entire picnic for Kayla”. It is a miracle that I kept my cool. She kept repeating over and over that my only reason for being there was to take care of Kayla and she was MY obligation and responsibility. Like by somehow me being there by her side would null and void the risk of the dairy on the hands of her classmates. At one point when she told me that I had to stay by Kayla’s side and I told her that I would, she told me “Well, she’s downstairs and you are up here”. My response? She is IN class! Class doesn’t get over until 11:30 which is when the picnic starts – she is safe in her classroom with her teacher and TA! I finally had to tell her that I didn’t need her to tell me how to keep my child safe. That having the children wash their hands is what has to be done to keep her safe. She eventually said they will take care of having the children wash their hands. I basically walked away from her at that point – partially b/c I had to before I said something I’d regret later. I left the other Moms (who I’m sure think I’m a total slacker as a helper) and went down to Kayla’s class. I was so angry I had a hard time holding back the angry tears and tears of frustration. From then on I knew I was “on my own” and did my best to work with what I was given. I am still so thankful for her teacher and TA. Those kids who did not want macaroni and cheese sat on blankets with Kayla and the others sat on other blankets. Her teacher helped me heat up Kayla’s food and took over watching her so I could get Kayla’s water ice before the other parents dug in (after they touched all the other foods). Her teacher handed out wipes to her class after they ate so they were all cleaned up. Later, when they were going to sing, the director did tell me all the kids had their hands washed. I thanked her, but the damage had been done.

I can’t easily put into words how angry and upset I am. Yes, they made adjustments today, but they did NOT change the entire picnic and I could not have been more appreciative. Thankfully her attitude does not reflect onto the rest of the school b/c the staff has been wonderful and I have always gotten a really good vibe from the owner. I was nervous and anxious enough going into today and the encounter with the director really made me sick to my stomach. It has thrown me off so much today that I showed up at Alysa’s feeding therapy without her food. I’m glad her therapist has known me for years; otherwise I’d be worried she thinks I’m a total flake. I told her what happened and she nailed it with her response of “there’s nothing like isolating you”. It is very hard and isolating having a child with food allergies. It’s even harder when you’re made to feel bad about how difficult it is to manage. All I try to do is let Kayla do what the other kids can. I want her to be involved and enjoy the same activities and events. I was there to take on the brunt of the work and care she needed and the anxiety and yes the liability. I knew the day would be hard, I never dreamed I’d be made to feel so low.

It was suggested to me today to write a letter to the owner. I’m a bit torn. There is the anger in me that is driving me to want to, but the Mom in me is worried about repercussions. Despite the director’s attitude, Kayla has been so very well cared for by her teacher and TA and others. She has 2 more years there and Alysa has 2. They don’t have to take Kayla (they are a private school). I worry about retaliation of some sorts, even through them being less accommodating. I would love any thoughts and suggestions.

posted at 6:13 PM  

At 8:02 PM, Blogger ChupieandJ'smama said...

I am SO sorry! That director had NO right to talk to you that way. I have several names I'd like to call her right now but as I am a Christian woman I will refrain. Sue, I am close to tears. That is just so totally wrong. She had the "We've done enough for you and your child" attitude. I don't think I would write a letter. I would request a conference with the owner. And I wouldn't necessarily complain about the food allergy treatment, although I would bring that up. I'd complain about her condescending attitude and the fact that in light of how she treated YOU, I would have little trust with her in caring fir your daughter. Your daughter has a Life Threatening ailment. She isn't going to get a "little rash" if she comes in contact with dairy. You have entrusted her life to these people and they have assured you that they will take the best care of her. They failed her today. And they failed you. And I'm ashamed for them. And I'm scared for your daughter. They failed to mention the wipes and the dairy allergy to the other parents and you were doing your job as her parent mentioning it to the other parents (just as she said "taking care of your daugher). She is lucky that she had you today and not me. I would have punched her. And that is no lie (and not very Christian, I know).

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Donna said...

Wow, I have read this a few times now and am wondering who fueled the director's fire? Was it the other parents or staff at the school, or her direct observation. I think it makes a difference in how you are going to handle it. If it was other staff that used her as the mouthpiece you have alot to worry about...other parents, while frustrating, it is less to worry about. I like the previous commentors thought on using her attitude and treatment of you as the basis of your reason for being insulted, angry and less trusting. I would have repercussion worries too as the staff's feelings about you sometimes do reflect on their attitude about things, including your child, and in your case how they treat her allergy. If the director starts to feel differently about whatever accomodations they make, you don't want her attitude to roll down hill. After all, the teachers and TA's work for her and the right attitude about it needs to come from their management so their staff not only complies but feels good about it, especially being a new teacher is coming on board. I wouldn't want that director to be the first to talk to her about your daughter.

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am so sorry. I was getting angry with you while I was reading it!

I would write a letter to the ower, I would praise the teacher and TA, because they have made an effort to work with you but at the end of the day their boss was 100% inappropriate with you and I am sure the owner would not enjoy hearing about that.

I wonder if the director felt you were stepping on her toes as though SHE should have been the one to talk to the parents? But then I think no, because she made it clear that they were not really going to be very helpful either. Maybe she . .. I don't know I am clueless and ticked off and ready to write the owner a letter myself!

At 11:43 AM, Blogger MotoMom said...

I have been following your blog for a few months, I think this may be my first time commenting. Just a few thoughts from a former preschool teacher and parent of a child with ADD.

First of all don't worry about what the other parents think regarding your abiltiy to help set up. Your firt priority needs to be your daughter, if they don't understand that and think poorly of you then the problem is theirs, not yours.
The owner needs to be aware of how the director behaved and how she made you feel. You did nothing wrong! If I had been a parent there your explanation of why we were washing hands, keeping foods seperate, etc. would have increased my level of awareness and diligence in ensuring your daughters safety. If it were my child I would want nothing less.
Finally, I have gone toe to toe with teachers and administrators regarding my children. Some issues have been individual to my child, others complaints or concerns I had that were echoed by other parents. I advocate not only on behalf of my children, but those who will come after. Sometimes no change is made because the issue has not been brought to the attention of those in charge. I always try working with the teacher first and work my way up the ladder if need be. This preschool has done very well in working with you. Perhaps because of your advocacy the level of awarness has been raised which will benefit future students also looking for a safe place to learn.
I would absolutely speak with or write to the director. Emphasize your appreciation for all that has been done. The director was wrong and the owner needs to be made aware.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Nowheymama said...

I find it very odd that she didn't want you talking to the other parents. Of course you want to because they might not know of Kayla's condition and might inadvertently serve her something she cannot have just because they are trying to be helpful. That's what happens at our school events, and the parents never mind me telling/reminding them of K's allergy.

I am so sorry that this is the attitude you were met with. I agree with chupieandj'smama. I think you'll feel better (and more secure about their school)if you have a talk with the owner. I'm sure the owner is not going to want to see your two tuitions walk out the door.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

oh my goodness! I can't believe the attitude of the director! I'm sorry you had to experience that. It sounds like she was the only one with the problem and everyone else was understanding of the situation and didn't feel put out at all. She said you didn't have to "worry" about the other parents adn that you were there to take care of Kayla and that IS what you were doing - taking care of her by making sure the other parents knew what was going on!

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Typette said...

glad you are going to the director -- at which point, you've done all you can do ... someone just needs to step up and realize that at the least they need to not cause any conflict -- there is no reason for it.


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