James is my little nonconformist. At times, this has been the source of much exasperation. Like when he started preschool and ALL the other kids were calmly obeying the teacher and sitting still in their chairs, but he had no interest whatsoever in following either the teacher or the example of the other children. Or there was the time James decided that rather than feed the ducks at the duck pond (like all the other kids), he wanted to SWIM with them. All of you probably know how nice and clean and sanitary duck ponds are (insert sarcasm). The day I had to retrieve my nearly 5-year-old from its center was not one of my favorite parenting memories!
But following the beat of a different drummer can be a really positive thing too. I’ve been lucky to already see that with James.
One of the biggest pluses is that he just isn’t upset about having to test or receive insulin at school even in front of his peers. He’s never been self-conscious, and consequently, he’s a great little ambassador for type 1 diabetes! Kids are genuinely curious when he tests himself. They might think the meter looks like a cool device, for example. And then they’re usually a little taken aback when they see that he draws blood to test. Kids will ask him what he’s doing. He answers matter-of-factly, “Testing my blood sugar. I have diabetes so I have to test myself before and after I eat. It hurts a little bit but I’m used to it.” In a few sentences, kids get an appropriate explanation of what’s going on. Further, James’ calm and cool demeanor does the trick. Kids learn quickly, and for James and his classmates, testing has become something that isn’t a big deal at all.
In the past year or so, James has gained a healthy sense of social awareness. I know that developmentally he’s right on track and that it’s natural to care at least a little more about whether your friends think you’re cool. Further, I know that this is a good sign, that he’s relating well with his peers and that he’s growing up. Still, I hope for his sake that he’s able to retain his confidence to do things his own way. I especially hope that diabetes testing and all other aspects of diabetes continue to be areas that he addresses with confidence and self-acceptance.
I’m happy to report that at least for now, he still feels no stigma from testing in public — even though sometimes he acts like he is “too cool for school.”
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.