Poor James. For various reasons (that really do make sense), he has attended four different public schools. We also had two blessed years together when I taught him at home. He’s only in fifth grade! We’ve had four (or five) vastly different experiences. Some schools were awesome. Other experiences have been decidedly less positive. Like I’ve explained before, the quality of care and especially the ATTITUDE toward caring for James has varied widely!
I have to say, our current school is my favorite. There are lots of reasons for this. I adore my kids’ school. I love the teachers and the other parents, and the administrators are awesome. It’s a charter school, and the “philosophy” makes so much sense. It’s a caring and wonderful place. But the best part about the whole school is the attitude that I encounter whenever I have a request or minor problem or need help of any kind.
You see, originally we moved to this area only temporarily. It was going to be a year thing or less. But then my husband fell in love with this community. Then we found our current perfect house. When that happened, I immediately went from thinking “one year” to thinking we’ll be around to stay!
So the very next day I submitted James’ and Luke’s names to the charter school lottery, knowing that the chances of getting in were probably pretty slim. Imagine my surprise when I got a call the very next day that James’ name was drawn and he had a spot for third grade! This was only days before school started and was very unexpected. I have many friends in my area that want to get in to this school but haven’t been as lucky.
Because of the rapid time frame, I didn’t have any opportunity to talk to the school nurse in the summer. Instead, I met her the first day of school. I was more nervous than the usual parent. I had a “bomb” to drop on her. I got to tell her that my son has type 1 diabetes. I knew that she would be spending A LOT of time with him over the next six years! But her response was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was the response that made me feel so relieved. It is the response that characterizes the attitude of the entire school. It is the PERFECT response from any caregiver of any child with type 1 diabetes.
And it is SO simple. Here’s what she said: “What do I need to do to keep James safe?” Period. (Well, question mark, actually.) That’s it. She didn’t have opinions about what she could and couldn’t do. She didn’t want to lecture me about how students with diabetes had been cared for in the past. She didn’t act afraid or put out or offer information about her distant relative and all of her complications. Just a simple phrase that I think makes a parent of a child with type 1 perfectly happy. Let me repeat it: “What do I need to do to keep James safe?” If I could write a lecture in just a few words about how our schools can help our kids, this would be the lecture:
Caregivers, friends, friends of parents, parents of friends, scout leaders, teachers, school nurses—listen up. Here’s the phrase you need to know: “What do I need to do to keep him safe?” That’s it! If this is the attitude you start with, I promise you I can teach you the rest in one afternoon. The attitude is everything. And it is SO nice to hear!
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.