Regardless of whether or not our children have a food allergy or some other kind of special need, we all share the desire for them to feel included and accepted, especially among their peers. It’s a unique dichotomy we have as parents to both desire for our kids to stand out and feel special while also wanting them to fit in and feel normal at the same time.
No mother could be more familiar with this than Shannon Miskimen whose 5-year-old son, Cayden, suffers from a rare food allergy disorder known as Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES).
Though he now has 12 known food allergies, there are foods he hasn’t even tried yet that he still may become allergic to; the only way to find out is if he gets sick, as no proper testing is available.
You can imagine this would make kindergarten life quite the burden, as all of the other kids are indulging in the teacher’s goodie bag of treats and special birthday desserts. Shannon has had to pack all of Cayden’s meals, treats and snacks since he was put in daycare and preschool at 2 1/2 years old.
“He has a lunchbox half the size of his backpack for this very reason,” wrote Shannon in an article for The Mighty.
Cayden has sadly become quite used to being left out at school parties and any food-related event due to his FPIES— but just because it’s become the way of his world, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier on him. Shannon has always tried to prepare separate treats that he can enjoy so he doesn’t feel excluded, but they both know it’s not quite the same.
That’s why she was brought to tears when she received this heartwarming email from Cayden’s teacher just before a holiday party.
I wanted a party for Cayden where everything is Cayden friendly. Mrs. Sheets and I are going to go out and buy Mott’s 100% apple juice original, Lucky Charms, Armour Vienna Sausage original, sugar free jello strawberry cups, and classic Lays potato chips (yellow bag). I would like for a day where Cayden won’t have to worry about what other people have and where he can have everything. If you see something that would not work please let me know!! I tried to go on by what you brought to class for him and what was on the list of approved foods. You are more than welcome to pop by tomorrow or Friday or both to ensure that everything we have is approved!!
“When I read it, I started to cry,” said Shannon. “His teacher and her aide also sent notes home with the other students saying all food would be provided for the party due to food allergies in the classroom. I offered to make cupcakes so the kids would have those as well.”
“The party was a complete success. Cayden was able to eat everything without fear, and this mom was crying happy tears at the generosity and care of my son’s teacher,” she added. “She’s made this a holiday party to remember and has set the bar high for his future teachers.”
It’s such a blessing to know that there are teachers like this in our education system who treat our sons and daughters as if they were their own. Kudos to this kind-hearted kindergarten teacher for setting the bar high and showing one little boy that he’s just as special as the rest! It just warms my heart!
Photo: Shannon Miskimen
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