When James was five, he went through a phase when he wanted to make books. I’d staple together a few sheets of white paper, and he’d add the illustration and as much of the text as he could. It was a cute process -- super creative -- and I’ve kept and cherished these books! I’ll never forget when he made a counting book. He started with one car, two flowers, three balls, etc. When he got to nine, he used (what else) nine drops of blood, illustrated with tiny red circles on the page. To any other family, that might seem unusual or a little morbid, but it didn’t seem so to us. Instead, little drops of blood are quite at home with the other everyday objects in our child’s life!
James went through some other cute phases with toys and crafts. First, he practiced giving pretend shots and “testing” his stuffed-animal piglet. Then he went through a period where he made pump packs for all of his toys. You’d see Buzz or Woody with a string, a little paper pouch of some kind and an assortment of LEGO® parts that loosely resembled his insulin pump! Craig and I kept our favorite drawing, too -- R2-D2™ with a pump. Why not?
These days James is more likely to write stories about real-life kids with diabetes. He devours a popular tween book series and has created his own set of characters that attend middle school and deal with the same challenges he has every day. He’s older now and more aware that drops of blood are not routine for everyone. It’s a little bittersweet, but I’m proud of this awakening to his place in the larger world. He gets that he has type 1 diabetes and that many of the kids around him don’t, and he is sometimes torn between hating that difference and embracing it -- and recognizing that it makes him special.
James’ brother Luke (pictured above) is in prime creative territory right now, and diabetes is almost as much a part of his life as it is James’. He has hardly known a day without watching his oldest brother have his blood sugar tested or count carbs or drink juice before playing on the playground. And Luke has been making his own crafty concoctions. Today he made a test strip out of paper. But it’s huge, like twenty times the normal size. And it’s colored red at the tip like the ones he sees all over the place. James is a good sport and he pretends to use it…
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
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.
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