Recently, a friend of a friend was diagnosed with food allergies. As I tried to help her support her friend, I thought of things that people did to support our family when Sophie was diagnosed with food allergies.
One friend wanted to do a babysitting swap. The idea terrified me at first, because Sophie was crawling at the time, and picked up and ate everything she saw on the floor. But Lisa realized the danger and she decided that "mop the floors" day would be the same as babysitting swap day. Every time it was her turn to watch my kids, she vacuumed and mopped and found every tiny crumb in every corner so that little Sophie wouldn't be able to eat something dangerous, like graham crackers or Goldfish.
Often in those first years, I would get envelopes in the mail from my Mom--recipes she found that would be safe for Sophie to eat. She tore out recipes from all kinds of magazines and mailed them to me. She researched "ice cream" made with soy or rice milk. She found less expensive gluten-free pastas. And when we would visit, my Mom purchased new bags of baking and other ingredients, to be sure there were no cross-contamination issues.
As Sophie got older, it was important for her to be able to have playdates. I always felt more comfortable with friends coming over to our house--honestly, I still feel that way--but Teri liked to have Sophie over at her house. I would pack a little snack for her to take, until Teri told me she always picked up certain little things when she went to the grocery store so that Sophie would have a snack if she happened to come over.
Over the years, I have appreciated all the friends who thought about Sophie's allergies when she was coming over for a party. I have been grateful for every classroom party planner who gave me the menu before the party. I have been glad for each teacher who let me know ahead of time about popsicle parties, or pizza parties, or popcorn parties so that I could check labels or bring an alternative for Sophie. I am grateful to every person who spent enough time thinking about Sophie to realize that she needs to be included, even though she might not be able to eat exactly what everyone else eats. Because, really, when it comes down to it, Sophie is a kid just like any other.