We love living in Southern California. We’re less than an hour away from EVERYTHING. Beautiful beaches, world-class sporting events, mountains to hike, and museums to visit. We also have this one garden that we adore. It’s actually called a “library,” because it’s especially renowned for its collection of documents, and scholars come to use this library frequently. My kids love the garden. My big boys feel free to roam and explore its 150 acres. They especially love all the animals they find there. Carp in the ponds, birds, squirrels in the trees, and the occasional insect they find on the lawns. It is BEAUTIFUL, and it fulfills me in a way that I actually think I need. My life is busy and insulated, and going to this garden “resets” me in a really crucial way. Visiting is a win-win for us.

On our most recent visit to this garden, we had a great time as always. I love my kids because they can stand entranced at one small pool of water watching a turtle, or they can sit transfixed as they imagine a pagoda is part of some kind of “realm” that they have been transported to magically. They did A LOT of physical exercise that day. Climbing stairs and hills and running and exploring. It was great.

When we finally came to one of the crown jewels of the property, they were already tired. And really I should have known that James was likely to go low. In hindsight, this would have been a good time to check his blood sugar. The amount of physical activity that he expended almost always drops his blood sugar—and quickly. But glancing at his continuous glucose monitor (CGM), everything looked okay.

Until it wasn’t. It was midway through our tour of the house—this big, beautifully decorated mansion that displays priceless tapestries and works of art—that the CGM finally alerted us to what was happening with James’ blood sugar. I took a seat on a bench and tested James. He was low, and it seemed he was dropping quickly.

Here I was in the midst of all this luxury. I was feeling self-conscious already because although my kids were behaving well, they are KIDS, and that automatically makes docents a little nervous. So I knew James needed a juice. And he needed it soon.

Thankfully, right near me I saw two docents standing there talking. I approached them and said succinctly, “Hi. My child right there has type 1 diabetes, and he needs a juice box, and I’m going to give it to him right now.” This was an attempt to stave off inquiry and prevent a scene. I was lucky there were two of them—one was clearly hesitating. For context, even WATER BOTTLES are not allowed in this building, let alone something like juice. The other docent immediately told us to go ahead. I gave James the juice box. He inhaled it. I disposed of it in my voluminous mommy-bag. We were done.

The two docents watched us with a little something… I think it might have been respect? I feel like there is this cautious tension between art lovers and parents. Art is valuable and fragile—kids are energetic and destructive. (I love them, but it’s true!) Kids NEED art in their lives—art needs to be preserved. Parents of even well-behaved kids are often overly scrutinized. Yet many parents could probably do a better job of helping their kids be respectful to art. There is room for improvement all around. I felt like my respectful little boy, battling a chronic disease with quiet propriety, helped show how kids and art can go together. Maybe?

In any case, I was grateful to encounter an understanding individual who allowed us to treat James without making a big deal, even though really it IS kind of a big deal. I was also grateful that they were able to witness his low being treated. We’re fast. We’re respectful. James goes through a lot and is still a great, well-behaved kid who loves looking at art AND running through gardens.

There were very few words expressed, but I think there was a lot of meaning in that exchange.

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.

Related topics:
Jen: My Recent Public Reprimand
Sleepovers, Camp, Field Trips: Spending Time Away From Home After Diagnosis
Checking and Dosing in Public: Is There Such a Thing as Diabetes Etiquette?

Recent posts from Jen & Kim

Read more about Jen & Kim