It's funny how you make decisions when you're a child. I picked my best friend since I was in pre-school, based on my fondness for Alice in Wonderland. That friend though, and her family, have been a part of my extended family ever since that first day of school. They learned and knew my allergies inside and out. They, among a few other families, who I also consider part of my extended family, were people I felt I could trust with my allergies growing up. These were people who knew how to use the Epi, understood I couldn't eat any foods or have cross contamination. These people "got it." They were comprehenders. They understood and helped me. These people are the ones who made me feel like I was just a normal kid, because when I was little, I felt like I could trust them with my allergies. I didn't have to worry that they didn't understand, or would feed me something I couldn't eat.
Having friends and people like that for your child is HUGE!!! It is one of the most important things my parents did for me, because those people never made me feel singled out. I was singled out in school, in camp, and in just about any other group activity or program, but when I was at my neighbors, or at my friend's, I never felt singled out.
My favorite cereal was introduced to me by my best friend's mom. I can still picture that day. Sara and I were outside playing on the swing-set in her yard. It was after school, and her mom came out and called us on to the porch. In her hand was a box of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. I remember being amazed I could eat them! To me, all those pieces of apple cinnamon, stuck on the cheerios, looked like nuts. I remember reading the ingredients with Leslie, Sara's mom. There were no nuts! Even to this day, they are still a favorite!
I just want to reiterate the importance of finding friends you can trust with allergies. Now, in my twenties, I trust myself when it comes to my allergies. I recognize the importance though, of finding people for children to trust. People who truly "get it," are hard to find, but important to recognize, because those are the people who can make a child with allergies feel like a normal kid.