When we first sat down with the school administration to set up a 504 plan for James and his type 1 diabetes care, it was agreed that I’d try my best to attend field trips with him. Generally, that shouldn’t be required of any parent at a public school. It is sometimes difficult for schools to part with a nurse or health tech for a whole day to help with a field trip, but at least where we live, they’re legally required to do so. Still, because I was a stay-at-home mom, and because I like volunteering in my kids’ classrooms anyway, this worked for our family, and that’s the system we set up.
Over the years, that means I’ve gone on nearly every field trip with James. There are some exceptions — for example, there happens to be another child with type 1 diabetes in James’ class, so his parents can sometimes pinch-hit for us, and vice versa. But to be honest, our system is mostly awesome! One cool benefit is that our school has a very strong volunteer base; sometimes more parents want to attend field trips than can be reasonably accommodated. Guess who gets to go anyway? Some parents might think that’s unfair, but we need to be allowed at least some perks for all that we deal with.
The tough part of this whole setup is my other children. They see me going with James, and they want that too. I do try to make it a priority to attend field trips with my younger kids. But they don’t need medical assistance from me, which makes it pretty easy to drop a field trip if things get crazy at home.
And that has been happening a lot to James’ brother Luke lately, through a series of events that nobody planned or predicted.
That’s why I really felt strongly that I wanted to attend this most recent field trip with Luke. It was kind of awesome actually. The field trip forms went home. I and apparently nearly every other parent in the class signed up to be a chaperone, and I was selected by lottery. Luke couldn’t have been more excited if he won the real lottery. “Mom, you’ve been picked! I’m so lucky!”
Of course, that very same day I got another field trip form. This time it was for James, and wouldn’t you know, it was for the same day. I wanted to go on this one. It was far away. There was food. It made me uncomfortable, and the other family with diabetes wasn’t going. Their son is pretty self-sufficient these days.
What to do! On the one hand, it made more sense to go with James. There were so many interested parents for the other field trip, and James “needed” me more. But did he really? I think I came to the conclusion that Luke actually might have had the greater need — just that his was more emotional or psychological. He needed to know that he was important to me.
Enter: some very wonderful people who allowed me to go with Luke instead of with James.
First, I must thank my mother for watching my younger kids on the day of the field trip, even after Benny threw up the night before. It must be love!
Second, thank you to the seventh-grade science teacher who just happens to have a child with type 1 diabetes as well and who very lovingly took care of James for me the whole day of the field trip. I knew that when he was with her, he’d be fine. She totally knew what to look for and how to handle anything that would come up. She was beyond capable.
It was a great day. Luke said it was his favorite field trip he’d ever gone on. James had such a great time too. It was totally uneventful for him, and it was nice for him to have a little distance from me. At the end of the day, thanks to many caring people and a little creativity, I had two happy, smiling boys who both felt fulfilled.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.