Thursday, 4 September 2014

We're going through changes - the dairy free 'Baby' starts school!!!

Well, that's it, then!

'Baby' is really definitely NOT a baby any more! 

Yesterday she started school!!!!

That might shock some of you - after all, the blog is called Dairy Free Baby and Me, isn't it? 

As she was - nearly five years ago!

BUT the eagle-eyed among you, or those who have read my Twitter bio, may have spotted references from time-to-time which have given the game away.

The thing is, I originally called this blog 'Dairy Free Baby and Me' because that's where those of us who have little ones with milk allergies begin the journey - whilst they're so small and new and we're so unprepared for it! I wanted to help others who arrived (as we did) bang, smack right in the middle of dairy free territory without a map, guide or reference point! 

Having given yourself a blog title, you then have to kind of stick with it - so people know who you are! My way around this, was to stick 'Baby' in inverted commas, to make clear it's an identity, rather than a description! But I've no idea how clear you found it!

Me, on the other hand, I'm all too aware of how my little one is growing and developing. 'Baby' has most definitely not been a baby for some time now - walking, talking and growing in height as well as independence!!

So now I'm torn.

I'm torn between rejoicing in the fact that despite her milk allergy she's developed so well (another parent complimented me on this, just today, in fact)  and in the fact that I finally have ME back - head space, time to THINK, sort, throw out stuff, shop get a hair cut etc. etc. without the constant, 'Mummeeeee!!' in the background and sorrow at 'losing' my (usually) irrepressibly cheerful little girl companion. 

Okay, okay, I'm not losing her altogether, I know THAT, but I know we'll never have that precious pre-school time back again. AND, I'm wondering constantly how she is. 

Is she lonely, being picked on, hurt or hungry? Or is she happy, cheerfully playing with new friends? Does she understand the teacher, or the instructions given by the dinner ladies? I just hope that she's SAFE emotionally, physically and allergically (if I can put it that way)! Funnily enough, the last thing I'm actually concerned about is how well she'll learn!!

The thing is, I've done my best to prepare her for this time: I've fed, clothed and cared for her day in and day out for nearly five years - I've been every inch the 'present mum.' She can now use the toilet (that took flippin' ages); make friends (despite being an only child, we've been careful to help her socialise with others in a range of situations); all along she's been trained to know what she can/can't have to eat, as well as how to ask if something is safe. 

I haven't taught her to read or write very much at all, beyond her name - mainly because I didn't want to put pressure on her and switch off before she even started. It was also because really I (not so secretly) wish that England was more like Finland - where formal schooling doesn't begin until seven. I've heard, that come Christmas of their first term, the Finnish children can all read and write, just fine!!

I am confidant that 'Baby' is in a great school. We've chosen her school carefully - we've scoured websites, been to lots of open days, asked questions, got recommendations from friends etc. etc. 

The school where the head teacher looked at me blankly (when I asked what sort of arrangements they had in place for children with a milk allergy) and replied, 

'Well she can have packed lunches, can't she?' 

was crossed straight off our list... in catchment and rated 'Outstanding' by OFSTED or not!!

'Baby's' teacher is great. She's an experienced lady, who definitely knows her onions (me, being a 'resting' teacher, grilled her in advance). The class size isn't too big. There's soya milk and dairy free snacks available at break time. Provision is made for children with allergies in the school lunch (including dairy free ice cream, when others have their ice cream), and the school has procedures in place - a clearly displayed board on the wall, of the dining area with photos of children with allergies - listing their allergy/ies, contact numbers etc. in case of emergency...

So, even though the school is all good, that doesn't stop me, well not worrying exactly, but... concerning - if you know what I mean (I know that's not grammatically correct, but it'll have to do, for now)!! 

'Baby' hasn't cried - not yesterday when I left her in the classroom, not this morning when I left her again. Yesterday, she used the toilets, she ate her lunch, all as she should. No nasty reactions followed overnight. If she didn't exactly skip down the path, she seemed fine about going to school this morning.

Today, on arrival, she was greeted by name by another little girl. That was nice!

I haven't cried either and I'm beginning to relax...

I'm also torn in regards to the blog. Question is, now what? For me, for blogging?

These questions will have to wait for a bit, I've got certain things I need to do - one of which is a move to complete, now we've sold our old flat (the one I bought into when I was single). Then, I'm pretty sure I'll be back on these pages... maybe looking for another name or identity. After all, 'Baby' is NOT a baby any more, is she?

But she's still dairy free!


So much for growing out of it by the age of two, then! 

1 comment:

  1. Such a lovely post, thanks for sharing your story. I knew "baby" was getting older, but didn't realize school was happening this year. :-) Congrats on making it through the first few days. It seems like everything is going well! My son has one more year until he starts (our slow beginning here in Swiss public schools sounds similar to Finland). I may be looking for advice on getting ready for school as it gets closer. In the meantime, good luck with your move! Best wishes, Heddi