There's nothing like a little one-on-one talk to underscore to a mom that as much as she thinks she understands what is going on in her children's lives, their thought processes are often very different from what can be observed from the outside!
Today I had a frank discussion with James. I was starting to write, and he asked what I was doing. I explained that I was working on my blog. He's mildly interested in the blogging process, realizing on some level that I'm really writing about him. I asked him if he wanted to say anything to his "audience," but he didn't really. I told him that if he ever wants to voice anything about diabetes, he's welcome to talk through me here, and I'd let people know what's in the mind of a 9-year-old little boy living with type 1.
After a long discussion, James' interest in what I was writing waned. I ended up asking him just two questions: What is the best thing about diabetes, and what is the worst thing about diabetes? Now, I know James really well so I thought maybe I'd be able to answer for him. I was right about his favorite thing -- he likes getting sugar when he's low. I've been mildly concerned about this attitude for some time. While I'm glad he isn't afraid of being low, I need to make sure he understands the risks it carries. I also don't want him to feel he has to be low in order to get treats. Especially because we make it a point not to entirely abstain from treats at other times, to indulge in "the good stuff" every now and again to keep James -- and all our children, with or without diabetes -- from feeling deprived. I suppose I need to think about this one a little more.
I didn't come close to guessing James' worst thing about having diabetes. According to him, the worst thing is eating something when you don't want to. While I understand that this is probably a major pain, I'm also surprised, because it's so very seldom that we ask him to do this! James is on an insulin pump that allows him to eat pretty much whenever he wants. We can give multiple doses of insulin for each meal, and we rarely dose for everything he eats up front -- allowing him to eat more if he wants, but if he isn't hungry, he isn't forced to finish. Only very rarely does he HAVE to eat something -- but apparently it happens often enough to be his worst thing about having diabetes. This is definitely food for thought (no pun intended)!
Interviewing James proved instructive. While we talk frequently, and we are as close as a mother and son could possibly be, there is simply no substitute for asking questions. I learned a lot about my son today, and I think that with the information I gleaned, I'll be able to better handle his concerns about his chronic illness. Do you know what the best and worst things about diabetes are for your children? I bet you'll be surprised if you ask!
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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