Sending My Gluten-Free Child to School Stresses Me Out

Sending My Gluten-Free Child to School Stresses Me Out

How one mom deals with her anxiety about sending a gluten-free child to school.

By: Greta Funk

Since she started preschool last year, I’ve been dreading kindergarten. I vividly remember what that year was like for her older sister; how every special day revolved around food, every project seemed to have glued-on cereal or pieces of pasta, and rewards given were little treats to eat. As a child with Celiac Disease, though, everything my younger daughter put into her mouth (or even on her hands) has to be monitored.

When one of your children is diagnosed with the disease, everything changes. We’re so lucky that it is not life-threatening and that we can keep her safe and healthy by just following a strict gluten-free diet; however, we really did have to do a complete kitchen and lifestyle overhaul. I knew that when I sent her off to kindergarten (and, to a lesser degree, preschool last year), I was handing over control of her wellbeing and putting all of my trust in her teacher and the school staff.


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I started the week before school by setting up a meeting with her teacher, and it wasn’t a short one. I walked into her classroom with notes and printouts. I wanted to be overly prepared rather than struggling to remember the important things (and even the not-so-important ones) that the teacher needed to think about in order to help my daughter avoid “being glutenized.” We went over everything from snacks to holiday parties to the use of play dough to what would happen if she did consume gluten. I left satisfied that I had given her teacher the information that she needed to know and that the seriousness of the situation was conveyed.

I know my daughter is going to love school this year, and I’m pretty confident that any gluten ingestion will be rare. I think it’ll actually help both of us … she’s going to learn how to stand up for and take care of herself when I’m not around to speak for her, and I’m going to learn to give up some of the control that I’m used to having in social situations and at home (at least a little bit). That doesn’t mean I won’t be at every single school party, watching like a hawk, though!

Greta Funk is a part-time work at home wife and mom of four kids, living in the Kansas countryside.

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