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Back to School - As a Parent of a CWD AND as a Teacher

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tuesday is Sweetpea's first day of school!

Sweetpea is in Preschool again this year. She's slightly miffed because most of her friends from last year's class went on to kindergarten. And Mommy teaches kindergarten. But she's only 4 - so Pk it is.

After telling her that I saw one of her friends on the playground, she said, "What was SHE doing there?" I replied that she was in kindergarten and kindergarten had already started. Sweetpea replied, "Hmpf. Well..... I'm going to play a trick. I'm going to go to the office and tell them I've 5 so I can go to kindergarten too!". Then she stomped her foot.

Four going on fourteen.

Don't get me wrong, Sweetpea is SUPER EXCITED for school! She can not wait! She asks every day how many days and is eagerly counting down on her calendar.

I feel great about sending her back to school. And I feel great about sending DIABETES back to school, too.

The main reason is that Sweetpea has the most amazing teachers and nurses to work with! We LOVE and ADORE Mrs. V, Mrs. W, and Mrs. S. And they LOVE and ADORE Sweetpea. I could not have picked people more perfect if I tried! We are so blessed!

Of course, if you haven't figured it out, I am also at Sweetpea's school all day. I teach there. So she goes with me in the AM. Then her wonderful grandparents take care of her in the afternoon. Then they bring her back to me as school is over.

The control freak, type A person that I am LOVES being able to be right there with her. I am the one who does most of the D duties. She has her bg checked in the clinic but if anything needs to be done with her pump, she comes to me.

It's not always easy to stop class to handle diabetes. But it's a blessing in many ways and I'm glad that I can do it.

However, don't think that just because I'm there all the time means that I am not prepared! We have a 504 plan for Sweetpea. I make information sheets for all her teachers - including Music, PE, Art, and Library - even though they know me. We have plans in place for lockdowns and field trips. I have written out pup directions just in case someone else needs to use it. I have a big 'ol box of D supplies in the clinic. I have a Dexie cheat sheet. We do all of this because... You just never know. And it's better to be over prepared than under prepared!

If you are interested in any of the above mentioned things, check out the School Stuff tab above. It's all there and you are more than welcome to use it!

I believe that it's really important to do all of this. Even though I'm there. Even though I handle most of the explicit care. Even though her teachers are wonderful. Because... one day I won't be there. And one day she might have a teacher who is not as wonderful. And I can say that we've had this plan in place. We have had these accommodations. It gives me more of a leg to stand on if, for any reason, someone would take exception to something we felt that Sweetpea needed.

As a teacher, I know what it's like to have a child with D in your classroom. And know NOTHING about the disease. That was me before Sweetpea was diagnosed.

I had had children with D in my room. All the parents handled it differently.

One parent let her child eat anything he wanted and never cared if I let her know or not. In fact, I specifically remembered calling and asking her about freezer pops. She said , "Oh yeah, that's totally fine." I don't know why I remembered this - but I did. So after Sweetpea's dx, I went looking for freezer pops - assuming they had very little carbs. Uh... no. I don't know what her reasoning was. But I was baffled.

Another child could not eat anything we had - even if I did call Mom. I felt bad for her but we did parties the same as we always had. And she took her treats home. She didn't seem to mind.

But it haunts me now.

I got an email from one mother of a cwd that I'd had in my class as I was sitting in Children's Hospital the day after Sweetpea was diagnosed. It was surreal. I emailed her back... "you'll never guess where I am...."

I know that as a teacher, BEFORE, I didn't understand D. I didn't know how serious it was. No one ever told me! And AFTER - that scared me to death.

Some teachers will be difficult no matter what - whether they get it or not. Unfortunately. But not all. Some just need to know. Some need to understand. Not only the seriousness of low blood sugar but also how bg affects learning.

This child that was in my class had some struggles with learning. And I wondered if diabetes had anything to do with it... but I didn't know. And now I see it so clearly... and it haunts me.

Most teachers are there because they love kids. They want what is best for the kids.

So all these documents are a way of helping them SEE. Helping them UNDERSTAND. Helping them help your child.

It truly haunts me - the way I handled my cwd students BEFORE. If I had only known.... If I ever have another cwd in my class, things will be different. There will be no "candy box" or getting an m&m for a treat. There will be no popsicles on hot days... unless it works with the schedule or it's a Crystal Light pop or something without carbs. I will insist that carb counts come with food that is brought in to celebrate birthdays or on special occasions. And on those occasions, we will not eat like pigs. I would encourage healthy treats - and insist on Just 10 pouches. I would make accommodations. I would try to make the parents life and worries as simple as possible.

Because now I get it.

I used to think, "Well, I feel really bad. But it is his/her life. I guess they have to get used to it."

No. Life is hard enough for cwd's. CWD's endure so much more than their "typical" peers. And because they "look" healthy - no one really knows. No one really sees.

Teachers can't see what it's like to stick needles into your child. They don't see the strain that D puts on everyone. They can not comprehend what it's like to manage D in your child. They just can't. It's not their fault.

No one can advocate for your child but YOU. And no one is a better advocate.

Don't be afraid to do what you feel is right for your child. And if your child's teacher has any questions.... just send them my way! I'd be more than happy to help explain!

Here's to a Happy and Healthy School Year!



  1. I just might print this post and bring it to our 504 meeting. Thank you for this perspective. You just can't truly understand unless you walk in someone else's shoes.

  2. I am a teacher also and I work in Skyler's school. This year I even have her in my class for two periods of the day. We feel very blessed to be in the situation we are in. D is so hard and I feel like this is a little gift for us.
    Enjoy your first day.

  3. Awesome perspective!!!! I loved this :) Thanks!!!

  4. Wow - hearing it from the teachers perspective really does make ALL the difference, Hallie!! It makes me want to have another sit-down with
    Sugar Boy's nurse and teachers, just to be sure I got it all right the first time. (Don't get me wrong - they are doing GREAT!)
    Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Thank you for your posts and for putting up so much good information. We started homeschooling after our youngest was diagnosed. She was 5, and now she's 7. We've had a great time, and at the same time we plan to have them back in school again at some point, so I always read with interest how diabetes care is handled. Reading your perspective and others, I feel a little more prepared. The stories I hear from other D-mothers, stories of care and love from teachers and nurses make it feel promising. Thank you again for sharing your double perspective, and for reflecting so openly on your shift after your daughter was dx'd. I hope you have a great school year ahead!

  6. I seriously said to myself that I need to print this and take it to the 504 meeting... then I hit the comments and theres Meri with her hurty brain saying it first!!!

  7. I was sooo thinking the same things this past week subbing as a school nurse...that the teachers have NO CLUE. That is hard. I am slowly trying to change that in this area and through my blog. Thank you Hallie. This was sooo meaningful.

  8. Very good post. Whenever I hear someone having a really bad experience with a teacher or another parent, I always make a point to say that they are really not being ignorant...they really just don't know. I know that teachers want THE BEST for their students...WE just have to make sure that they know what that is!

  9. I loved hearing it from a teachers perspective! I will be sure to use some of you sheets too! I also like to be over prepared rather then under!


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