One of these things is not like the other.
We’ve always tried to make it a point to treat Kaitlyn “the same” as all of our other children, despite her type 1 diabetes. Her father and I believe that she can do anything any other kid can do, and she should be able to eat things any other kid can eat. Timing sometimes becomes an issue because of high blood sugar numbers, but if she has to delay a treat, we’ve always tried to make it up to her by giving her a “treat pass” that she can turn in later for something similar or even better. Sometimes we decide to put off letting anyone have a treat until it’s okay for Kaitlyn. We have five children — so the idea of fairness is kind of a big issue at our house.
However, sometimes we end up being “unfair” without even realizing it. The other day, Kaitlyn came home from school and had a silly look on her face. She said, “Dad, you do realize that Anna and I eat lunch together every day, right?” My husband, who has become the primary lunch-maker at our house, was taken aback. He had been caught! Little did he know that the girls would notice the extra cookies he put in Anna’s lunch that weren’t in her sister Kaitlyn’s. It was a subtle decision, one that was probably made knowing that the nurse’s careful (and maybe slightly judgmental) eye would be inspecting Kaitlyn’s lunch before she ate it. Luckily, Kaitlyn thought that the situation was more funny than unfair, and it didn’t become an issue. But she loved being able to call out her dad on it!
Here we were thinking that we were such good parents treating all our kids equally, and a silly school lunch is what took us down. So, what are we to do? I think that as much as we try, things are not always going to be completely equal. Even among our kids without diabetes, things can’t be completely equal. Sometimes one will need more attention than another, or one will need more new clothes or shoes than another. Diabetes just happens to be a really obvious way that life is unfair, but it’s one that we can’t really avoid.
As much as I have always disliked the idea that “life is unfair, so just learn to live with it,” it is in many ways kind of true. I think that as parents, our job is not to make everything completely fair, but to teach our children to deal with the unfair things that will come their way. We can teach them patience, kindness, determination, and especially humor! These are all things that will help them get through the unfair parts of life.
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.