Why is it that I let out a little sigh every time Kaitlyn brings a field trip permission slip home?
Of course I have “mom guilt” that I don’t share her enthusiasm for these excursions. As a kid, I loved field trips! The trouble is, up until now, I preferred to accompany Kaitlyn on every trip. The school is required by law (under Kaitlyn’s 504 Plan agreement) to provide a nurse to go with her if needed, but I have always felt better about handling the field trips on my own. Over the last three years, I have been to every single field trip with Kaitlyn, except for one — when I was in the hospital with a brand new baby.
Back when Kaitlyn was in kindergarten, I was the only parent allowed to come on every field trip — it was kind of like having room-mom celebrity status! By first and second grade though, the novelty started to wear off. I think I will die if I ever have to go on another pumpkin patch field trip again! Since practically every one of my kids’ teachers has done that trip, I’ve got frequent flier status on the wagon ride and can quote the entire farmer’s speech of how pumpkins grow.
You can imagine my (feigned) delight when Kaitlyn’s teacher sent a note home regarding an upcoming field trip (the second one within a month). As I looked at my calendar, it was certain that the planets were not going to align. My husband had to work, and my son Jonathan also had a field trip that day — to the zoo. His teacher had asked me to accompany their class because Jonathan is quite a handful; she was probably worried (and rightly so) about keeping him out of the giraffe exhibit. If there was a kid who would end up on the back of a giraffe, it would be Jonathan.
Between that and several other obligations, it looked like I couldn’t be super-mom this time. So I decided to ask the school to make arrangements for the nurse to go with Kaitlyn on the field trip.
The school staff was happy to help. Kaitlyn’s regular school nurse and her district nurse were unavailable, so they found a substitute nurse to attend. She came to Kaitlyn’s school every day for three days before the trip to be trained on everything she needed to know to take care of Kaitlyn. She was trained on how to use the pump, how to check blood sugar, and what to do in an emergency. The district nurse even called my doctor to get updated orders, just in case the pump failed and she would have to administer insulin via syringe. When I dropped Kaitlyn off for the field trip, I met the substitute nurse, and we talked a few times more that day when she had questions.
I’m so grateful that our 504 plan guarantees that Kaitlyn will be able to participate in any and all school activities and that a nurse will be provided to take care of her. It’s up to the district to see how that is accomplished — and if it takes extra prep work like making some phone calls and training a substitute, all of that is included in the guarantee. The school was so willing to do whatever was needed for Kaitlyn to attend! It washed away some of my mom guilt and helped me to feel more comfortable using the resources available.
To any other T1D parents out there who are like I was — always trying to do everything on their own — it’s OK to ask for help! There are resources available for a reason, and it’s okay to use them! Often times it takes a coordinated effort to take care of our kids, and I am so glad that we have such a great team!
Oh, and good news — Jonathan never made a break for the giraffe enclosure.
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.