Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Easter Egg Hunt Gone Wrong: Gluten Free at School

I've held off writing this post for a few hours, hoping to let my anger and sadness calm down a bit, but I'm still upset and think this post needs to be written.

My son is 5 years old, and in junior kindergarten. He's the one in our family who MUST be gluten free. His school is well aware of his gluten free status, as he attended the preschool there from the time he was two. I send him to school with his lunch every day, and I provide the school with gluten free treats when there is a special event. His school doesn't allow students to bring food to class for birthdays or special occasions, which makes things a bit easier to handle.

Today, my son's teacher held an Easter Egg Hunt for the class. Each child had to find two eggs, labelled with their name and filled with candy. A cute idea, and the kids loved it. My kid loved it, until the hunt was over.

The students were sitting on the carpet with their eggs. The children weren't allowed to eat the candy at school, they had to wait until they went home. My son's teacher asked him if she could see his eggs. She read the ingredients on the package and told my son that the candy in the eggs weren't gluten free, so he couldn't bring them home. She took the eggs from him and left him there with nothing to replace them.

5 years old. Hunts for eggs with his name on them, only to have them taken away and not replaced with anything else. Some of the other kids laughed at him, while his friends told the teacher they didn't think it was fair. My son was embarrassed, confused, and upset.

I am livid.

I want to make a few things clear before I continue. I don't have a problem with holding an Easter Egg Hunt for the class, I think it's a great idea. I also don't expect the teacher to provide my son with a gluten free substitute or to buy a gluten free option for the class. What I do expect is that the teacher will follow the protocol we've established, which is to send me an email letting me know what the class will be eating so that I can provide her with something to give to my son instead. I could have easily sent an egg filled with a candy that's safe for him to eat.

I realize she may have forgotten, in which case she should have found a way to substitute the candy for something else for him, like stickers or pencils or something else small that he could have in place of the candy.

I don't expect her to take his treat away and leave him empty handed while all of his classmates get to hold onto their personalized Easter treats.

As a teacher myself, I would have called the parent or at least sent a note home explaining what happened and apologizing for the error. We have a plan in place for a reason.

My son understands that he can't eat what everyone else eats, and is used to having a substitute provided. What he's not used to is being completely left out of something so needlessly. He was in tears, and his first Easter Egg Hunt at school was ruined.

I'm disappointed that what should have been a great memory is now an awful one, and that all the work we've done setting up protocols for occasions like these went out the window without even a note or phone call acknowledging that a mistake had been made. In fact, if my son hadn't told me about it, I wouldn't even know.

My son deserves better.

1 comment :

  1. Oh Kathleen, I am so sad and angry that this happened to your son. It would have been so easy for the teacher to find a quick substitute for the candy in your son's eggs even if she forgot until the last minute. (Don't all kindergarten teachers have stickers in their desks?) It's really upsetting to have your child be put it this position unnecessarily -- it's obvious you've worked hard to put a protocol in place so that these kinds of things shouldn't happen. I hope that the sad memory of that egg hunt will fade for your son as he has a fun Easter weekend with family at home. xo