So I sent James to his room the other day for his blood sugar. Doesn't that sound terrible! My explanation will only make it seem a little less so. Truth is, he actually got in trouble for teasing his brother and refusing to stop. My reaction, however, was pretty severe, and I hate to say it, but it was motivated not by my righteous indignation at James' behavior, but at my utter, complete frustration with his high blood sugar. Like I said, not my finest parenting moment!
We've found that our level of "control" ebbs and flows. We'll get in these great periods of time when it seems like every blood sugar reading we take is either in range or at least explainable in some way. Then we'll have periods when I'm left scratching my head as to what we'll find when we test. I'm still amazed that I can be completely stumped, and yet there it is. I'm still baffled sometimes about unexplained highs and precipitous lows.
It was in just such a period of uncertainty that I took a reading about two hours after breakfast. I'd made an adjustment in the carb ratio that morning to help deal with some post-breakfast highs, and I was shocked and beyond dismayed to see how high his blood sugar was! Just following the test, when he provoked his brother, I immediately sent him to his room, and I have to say that my voice was not calm and reasoned—it was pretty apparent I was upset. At this time I guess you could say I was really grateful that we do time-outs. I think I really needed one. (Incidentally, do you ever feel that, as a grown-up, the best REWARD you could be given is a time-out to match the minutes in your age? Jen, you have to go to your room for 34 minutes! Bliss!)
In those moments I was able to realize that my behavior to James was completely disproportionate to what he had done. I recognized my own anger at the blood sugar and my frustration in figuring out what was going on, and that I had inadvertently let that guide my behavior with my son. Clearly, I needed to make amends. But how?
First, I brought him in and explained that I had overreacted to what he did to his brother and that I was sorry. I didn't actually explain to him that I was mad about his blood sugar. He's young enough that he doesn't care what his blood sugar reading is and to be honest, I don't want him to worry about it, as there is very little that he can personally do to control it. As a parent, I do want him to follow my authority, and it's important to me that he abide by my rules. I try to be extremely consistent in the punishments that I dole out. If I issue an edict ("Stop touching your brother or you'll go to your room"), then I try to make sure I follow through. In this case, however, James needed to know that I had made a mistake. My voice was too angry, I was too upset and it wasn't right. I told him as much. I think a corollary to consistency is the willingness to admit when you've been inconsistent yourself!
We hugged, and he forgave me as easily as anything. Thank heaven for seven-year-olds! I'm not sure it will always be so easy, but for now I'm just trying hard to build up our relationship full of positive moments and connections. Mistakes are inevitable in parenting. But, I think that when we try to do the right thing daily, hourly and in each minute, the times that we do mess up are less severe and more easily rectified. I'm grateful that not more than fifteen minutes went by with bad feelings between us, and I'm trying not to let high blood sugar misdirect my anger again!
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.