James is really the world’s nicest kid. I love that he is kind and gentle. He is also humble in the face of criticism and a natural peacemaker. He absolutely helps make our home a better place to live!
I’ve always been told that things will change as he hits adolescence, that he will become snippy and rude and that he will naturally separate himself a little bit from his parents and his siblings. I know that’s all a big part of growing up. Before he can become his own person, he has to make that painful separation away from our family so he can discover who he really is! I haven’t wanted that day to come.
Well, it really isn’t here YET in any appreciable way. He’s still sweet and very connected both to Craig and me. I think he’d still call his brother Luke his very best friend. I feel like I know a lot about his life and his hopes and dreams.
But it is bittersweet to recognize that he is making some changes. I sense a tiny little bit of irritation with my questions, a higher need for privacy, more questioning of the things that I do, etc. I just sense a little bit of that teenager attitude.
And I know that it is normal! I know his critical observation skills are growing, that his sense of self is developing, and that he’s experiencing the emotions all preteens go through as they begin becoming grown-up human beings! But every so often the attitude makes me just a little wistful for the days of pure sweetness.
One thing that James has expressed to me recently is that whenever he tells me that he doesn’t feel well, I automatically EVERY time ask him what his blood sugar is, and he gets pretty frustrated by that.
To me, it makes perfect sense that the first step in determining why he doesn’t feel well is to see if something is off in his blood sugar. If he’s high or low, of course that will affect how he feels! I also need to know if there is something urgent that I need to do. Does he need a juice? Is his blood sugar sky high because something is amiss with his infusion set? This is important information.
But to James it feels belittling or like I’m not listening. And I’m sure he’s tired of being defined and explained by numbers on a machine. I’m grateful he said something. Since he has spoken up, I’ve tried to put myself in his shoes. I can’t imagine if every time I tried to talk to someone about my feelings, it was always, always attributed to ONE part of myself. I think I’d start resenting that part of my life a whole lot. I would also feel like maybe the person I was talking to was not really LISTENING to me.
So now I have to use that time-honored parenting and diabetes management technique—the thoughtful pause. Oh, in how many ways has that skill added to my life and to my toolbox for dealing with this disease! I need to pause and LISTEN to James. Even if every bone in my body just wants to check his blood sugar. I need to fight my inclination to attribute EVERY illness and bad feeling to diabetes. He’s good at communicating, and I need to show him that I respect his ability to tell me how he feels by taking time to STOP and truly listen first. (And then do a quick blood sugar test if I still deem it necessary!)
I told him I’d try to be better at that. I also told him why, from a treatment standpoint, my question is useful. I also told him he needed to be patient with me and be willing to listen when I tell him that he might need to test anyway sometimes. We agreed and we hugged.
Really, he’s still pretty amenable and definitely sweet. I know I’ve had only a taste of living with a teen. I’m holding out hope things stay this harmonious for the long haul, but I’m not holding my breath!
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.