So the other day I got a call from the nurse at school. This is not a remarkable thing in and of itself. Rare are the days when I don’t need to be communicating with the school about SOMETHING related to James’ type 1 diabetes. (Thank goodness I absolutely adore the school nurse!)
But today the nurse was calling about Luke. It turns out that Luke has taken to hanging out in the office at lunch and recess time. Which I thought was a little odd, because this kid LOVES recess. The nurse was calling to ask if it was okay if LUKE ate a piece of candy his teacher gave him. Of course, my answer was “sure,” and I thought it was kind of weird, but I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.
When Luke came home from school that day he explained that he met some new friends. One of them had a broken arm, and one had a sore leg, and they were his new “office friends.” Again, I think I kind of raised my eyebrows and shrugged.
Then he came home the next day and the next, always regaling me with stories from his friends in the office. Finally, I sat him down to have a frank discussion.
“Luke, why are you spending all of your recess and lunch in the office? Don’t you miss your friends and recess outside?”
“Yes, Mom. I started eating in there because I had a bad cough, and it felt better not to run around.” I remember telling him that this was a good option when he was well enough to return to school but not at full strength. So I nodded, and he continued: “Well, I was in there one day, and do you know there is only a picture of ONE kid in the whole school in the nurse’s office?” I nodded, remembering that there is a snapshot of the nurse and James that is up on the bulletin board. “That kid is James. He’s the ONLY ONE in the WHOLE school that gets his picture up on the bulletin board. Well, that’s going to change.”
At this point I was starting to get a little clearer picture, but just to make sure I understood correctly I asked, “What do you mean that’s going to change?”
“Because I’m going to start hanging out in the office like James does. Then I’ll get my picture on the wall too!”
Dear, sweet, earnest Luke. I forget sometimes how diabetes looks to Luke. In that moment, Luke wasn’t seeing the downsides of diabetes. He was only seeing all the attention that James gets from the office staff and especially from the beloved school nurse. James spends time in the office every day as he gets his blood sugar checked and his insulin dosed. Sometimes he’ll end up eating his whole lunch in there. As a result, he really is something of an office favorite, although the picture thing was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Luke didn’t see it that way. He saw his older brother and all that attention. To his eyes, it looked really desirable, and so he hatched a plan to get that attention too. And that breaks my heart just a little bit also.
It’s true that James gets a lot of attention. I’ve always felt like I’ve strived to be equitable with my boys, but it’s clear that everywhere James goes, his care gets prioritized by adults. Luke isn’t seeing the endless finger pokes and scary low blood sugar incidents. He’s just a little guy who sees a picture on a wall and wants that kind of love.
I told the school nurse the story. She thought it was adorable. The next day, she took a picture of Luke and put it on the school’s social media page. After he caught some “fame” he was happy to go back out to recess. I think he’s mostly forgotten the incident. But I haven’t. It has taught me that I have a little person who needs to feel important too and that I need to make sure diabetes doesn’t affect my second son any more than it affects my first.
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.