When I was a chaperone on Kaitlyn's last field trip, there was a boy from another kindergarten class who I didn't recognize. He came right over to Kaitlyn, pointed at her and said, "I know who she is. She's the slowest eater." I watched Kaitlyn's face to see her reaction, but she was unaffected by the boy's comment. I had to chuckle to myself a little bit, and then I explained to the little boy that Kaitlyn always has to finish her lunch so she won't get sick. I suppose the explanation satisfied him, but I'm sure he was still confused.
Well, this is just the beginning of the comments and questions Kaitlyn will get her whole life. Why can't she just eat a bite or two of her lunch and run off to the playground with the rest of the kids? Why can't she share her food with anyone else? Why does she visit the nurse's office every day? Why does her mom attend so many field trips, school parties and birthday celebrations?
Right now, we're really lucky that Kaitlyn doesn't seem to be too embarrassed about her unique situation. As she grows and becomes more aware in social environments, I wonder if she'll start to feel different from everyone else. Will the other kids' curiosity become more like ridicule? Will her self-esteem suffer? I don't have an answer.
I'm learning as I go, just like she is. So far, I have come up with a few ideas to help her talk to others about type 1 diabetes and feel confident at the same time.
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I'm excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
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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