My kids attend a charter school. Two of the things we like best about it are the awesome field trips and lots of parental involvement. But… sometimes these two things collide. Like with Luke’s field trip last year: Parent driver volunteers were needed. The teacher announced that they’d need to use a lottery to select the drivers, since all but four of the parents volunteered!
Now that Luke’s older brother James is in eighth grade, it is not quite that competitive to assist on his field trips. But it is still pretty desirable, and often more parents want to attend the field trips than easily can. Now to be honest, this is where I’ve always had a bit of an ace in the hole. Since I care for James’ type 1 diabetes, and that is beneficial both for us and the school, I pretty much always get picked to chaperone. It probably looks a little bit less than fair to some parents watching from the outside. But we go with it. We have learned to take the silver linings of diabetes when they are available!
This may change with James’ upcoming field trip. Only four parents are allowed to participate in this event. Although more drivers will be needed to get the fleet of students to the location, those drivers will not be permitted onto the grounds unless they are also designated chaperones. This has created a situation where the slots for chaperones are very competitive.
James still needs supervision for this trip. Though he can test his own blood sugar, give himself insulin, count his own carbs, and handle 90 percent of situations without requiring any help, he often needs tiny reminders and sometimes somebody to watch out for him when his blood sugar goes low.
All of this, of course, builds the case for giving one of those sought-after parent chaperone slots to me! Right? Well, there are some tricky other factors at play here.
The biggest one is that I actually can’t drive this year on field trips. Yep, I had a tiny little accident in the parking lot of my other son Benny’s school. My fender hit somebody else’s fender. I had zero damage to my car, but the other car did get a scratch. I reported the accident, because it was the right thing to do. I also told the kids’ school about it, and that means that I can’t drive on field trips for one full year. While I think what happened with my car can only marginally be considered an accident, the parent in me can’t help but be impressed that they have very high standards for their drivers!
So why is that a problem? Because multiple drivers are needed for this field trip. Of those drivers, only four will be allowed to actually participate on the field trip. And honestly, I feel a little awkward taking one of the slots when I can’t even drive! I mean, I’d like to, but it made me really think about whether I had to. Could somebody else keep James safe on this field trip?
And the answer is yes! I could immediately think of four people besides myself who could keep him safe: the school nurse; another middle school teacher who has a child with type 1 diabetes (but who wouldn’t ordinarily be on this field trip); and the two parents of another child with type 1 diabetes in James’ class. Besides them, with some training and a generally caring and conscientious demeanor, another parent could also probably handle his care since he can do so much on his own. Or the teachers could help. I know they have a lot going on while in charge of the whole group of children, but their professionalism and understanding of James mean that I really feel safe when he is with them.
I decided to send an email to the teachers outlining exactly what I thought was needed. I mentioned that I would be happy to chaperone, but I presented the other options I discussed above in case that was preferred. Maybe it is still easier for me to go? Or maybe this time they don’t want to deal with other potentially upset parents? I feel good knowing two things: I’m glad that I was honest with them, and that there are other options for keeping him safe so that I don’t have to press my advantage. I’m also just especially happy to know that James is okay. That he can be safe in the care of others. And honestly, that’s the best thing of all.
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.