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Let Her Eat Cake

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For the past two years, Sweetpea has been in preschool. She attends a public preschool that is in the same elementary school building where I teach. Her classroom is a special needs classroom. There are a certain number if children with special needs and a certain number of typically developing students. (Sweets is a "typical" if you were wondering...) Part of their preschool program is a snack.


I hate snack. From a diabetes perspective, anyway. If it wasn't for diabetes... Because I love the way they all help passing out the food or utensils. I love how it helps them learn manners and politeness. They really do learn so much!

I have been so very fortunate because her teachers have been so wonderful and willing to do ANYTHING to help Sweetpea and manage her diabetes. They are always willing to move snack to whenever it best works for Sweets. I may handle the actual insulin administration, but they test her bg and count carbs and measure food... They have done a phenomenal job!

Our only "situation" in two years happened rather recently. And it had NOTHING to do with her teachers.

The school provides a "snack" for the preschool children. This is great! I don't have to pack her something and it encourages her to try things she might not at home. The cafeteria ladies work very hard and they deal with a lot of different needs- severe milk and peanut allergies, students who can not eat pork, students who are vegetarians or vegans...

In some cases, the cafeteria will offer a "substitution" for children who can not eat what is being served. For instance, they will offer pineapple instead of apple cobbler for those allergic to milk and nuts.

There have been a few times when Sweets was given the "substitution" because they did not know the carb count for the main selection.

Her teachers mentioned this to me.... Knowing I probably wouldn't be pleased.

They were right.

I appreciate what the cafeteria ladies are trying to do. I am not upset with them. I know that they are doing what they think is best and what they think is right.

And I REALLY don't want to be "THAT MOM".


This is not ok.

You're telling her she can't have something because she has diabetes. It's making her different. The whole reason I even have her participate in snack and eat what is served is because everyone else does it and I don't want to single her out. And when she is served something different, she notices. And she does NOT like it.

I'm not alone in this.  Lora had a situation where Justin was served HOT WATER instead of HOT CHOCOLATE.  Ummm.... not ok.  You read about it HERE.  And you can read what happened next HERE.

I get the argument that there are other children who are eating the alternative.

Here's the difference...

Sweetpea CAN eat the main selection. It will not kill her. She is not allergic to it. There is NO REASON she can't have it.

If you dint know the carb count, look it up. Or ask me.

But please, PLEASE... Don't tell my child that she can't have something because she has diabetes.

She knows it's not true.

She may only be five, but she has heard it time and again - She can eat anything as long as we cover the carbs. She can do anything.

We may need to prepare. We may need to do a little research. It might be a little more difficult.

But diabetes does not have to hold her back.

And if I have anything to say about it, diabetes never will.

I'm not trying to be difficult. Honest.

It's just that I see, after only two years with this disease, that she is already feeling some burnout.

She's sick of it.
She wants it to go away.
She knows her friends don't test their blood sugar.
She knows no one else on her school has an insulin pump.
She knows it makes her different.

She just wants to be a normal kid.
She just wants go eat the same thing as everyone else.

There are times when she HAS to be different. She HAS to wear her pump (or get shots). She HAS to test her blood sugar.

So when she CAN be like everyone else.... Please, PLEASE let her be like everyone else.

Just let her eat the cake.



  1. I'm so sorry to hear that she is feeling "burnout" in any way. :( Caleb is the 2nd of my three kids. Although there are things that the school does or allows that I don't like, when it happens in his older brother's or younger sister's class, I just stomp around and grit my teeth and it's over without intervention. In Caleb's case, who also has a peanut allergy, that's not an option. It always requires follow up. I can't just get the frustration out of my system and resign myself to "there are more important things to worry about". I have to be "that mom". It can be completely exhausting.

    Evenso, I never really feel like "that mom" in Caleb's case because I know I'm not making a mountain out of a moehill. It's actually a mountain.

    It takes energy, perseverance and strength to keep advocating, but at the end of the day, we're doing the right thing and perhaps more importantly, setting a good example for our kids because they will have to advocate for themselves some day.

  2. Great post, Hallie. I too understand where the lunch ladies were coming from, by doing "something" rather than nothing. But you're right. That does single PWD out. It's being different in some of those ways, getting the different food or being excluded from things that all your friends and classmates are doing, that makes you feel the most excluded. Hope you can work with all involved to change that. Thanks for sharing that, Hallie. Oh, and Sweets: Go eat that cake and those cupcakes... Just dose accordingly, Princess, and all will be OK.

  3. Well said!! Thanks for the post..

  4. We have fought about this endlessly this year. I have ALWAYS made it clear that Emma is to participate in snacks and special treats (unless I say otherwise). That she would just need a bolus, and if they can't figure out the carbs I CAN!
    I can't tell you how many times I arrived to pick her up from school to find her with a bag holding a cookie, or cupcake, and when I'd ask why she'd say "my blood sugar was high, so I wasn't allowed to have it" (right after lunch) or "the nurse couldn't come give me insulin." So she got NOTHING while the rest of the class indulged in front of her.

    Can you say D mama RAGE?

    The first few times I tried to justify their "good intentions" and not lose my cool, but by the end of the year I'd had it. I am a 5 second phone call away people!!

    You may have noticed that our nurse lost her job? Don't mess with my baby. ;)

  5. I have both a Type 1 (my daughter) and a food allergic child (my son). I want both of them to feel like everybody else. I've been fighting this battle for 13 years for my son...most often he goes without because no one asked me for a simple alternative--and he is always so grateful to classmates who remember to bring him something when they bring in birthday treats. His current school is wonderful. As for Kate and her T1....we know the lunch menu in advance and plan accordingly...I've made her a cheat sheet of the common menu items with serving size and carb count. She knows to pick and choose to come up with an acceptable carb count. When she encounters something new, the lead person on her school management team helps her find out the carb count...she then can choose to try the new item or stick with something familiar. Having a choice gives her a sense of control over T1. Another student in Kate's school was dx'd last week...we've already shared our "pick and choose cheat sheet" with them. And yes, I am tired of telling well-meaning people that Kate can eat anything in moderation.

  6. I so feel and hear your pain. My daughter, Kaci has diabetes and there have been several occassions at school when she was made to feel different- just for the simplicity of the teachers! ACK!
    You can read my post about the one that upset me the most at the following link.....

    Let them eat cake!!

  7. I think one of the hardest things to get people to understand is that they CAN eat anything (unless it is poison ;-)
    I would much rather treat a high than have my son miss out on a special treat with his friends. We have run into this quite a few times, not as much with school but with friends and even family (who we have explained our stance to often) Another reason this disease is so tough.

  8. Thank you for your post! It is beyond frustrating...even though I am an adult know people still feel it there job to comment on what I can and cannot eat!
    And I struggled very hard all through school with feeling different as well. How wonderful that you do work there (my mom worked in my district).
    I'm sorry princess is feeling the burnout! However, it is really hard not to feel that way!

    Way to go for all you do and fight for!! You are truely a rock star momma!!

  9. I think you handled this wonderfully and you are helping Sweets immensely by advocating for her Hallie. Enjoy some cake Sweets!!!

  10. Ugh! What's that saying about good intentions?!? It drives me nuts when people make decisions about what Bean can or can't have without talking with me...just so wrong and unfair!
    It's not right for them to make adjustments because of T1...just an unnecessary way to bring attention that's sooo not needed!

  11. I know how you feel. I get the baggies of sweets after school sometimes. But..sometimes I get the call, and we work it out!: : )
    Just keep at it, you are doing the right thing. : ) Holly

  12. I hate it, Jack hates it and Gregg hates it when someone makes a decision for Jack -- like a teacher or a friend's parent deciding to give him an alternative snack -- rather than calling me for more info. When he was in kindergarten, he had a Sunday school teacher who did that all the time. We would talk to her and think things would be different, but then she'd exclude him again. It was awful. Jack knows how Sweets feels. I know how you feel.

  13. This is so upsetting. I know that feeling. And this only adds to her feeling of guilt I am sure. Just another thing we have to face with D. *Sigh* good for you and her for standing up to them and teaching them!

  14. While I do agree that a Type 1 Diabetes child should never be excluded from the main snacks, I would never expect the cafeteria staff to carb count without any knowledge. I certainly would never expect them to look it up. It's best to sit down with the staff who are responsible for figuring out her carbs and educate them. Diabetes is extremely complicated. We STILL after three years figure out our son's meals/snacks when Grandma and Grandpa come to visit.

    It sounds like her teachers are very accommodating and the cafeteria staff are doing their best.

    Also, wait until she enters elementary. There is no snack. She will be faced with having to eat her snack when no one is eating. She will be stared at when she tells the teacher she is low. There will be many hurdles as she gets older. What I'm trying to say is please don't be too hard on the school staff. Type 1 Diabetes in the school is still very foreign and teachers, etc. are very afraid of dealing with it. Until my son was diagnosed with Type 1, I thought Diabetic could not eat anything with zero sugar. People mean well. They just don't understand.

    As for Amy who made the comment about her nurse not having a job anymore and said, "Don't mess with my baby". Wow!

  15. To Anon - Just want to explain... I think that if you read back through the post and other posts I've done about school you'll see that in no way am I bashing the cafeteria staff. I know I specifically said that they were doing what they felt to be right - and I appreciate that. Let's clarify - my classroom is literally 10 steps from the cafeteria. I am always available to be asked questions. My point was that I don't want them - or anyone- making a decision about what she should or should not eat. I don't expect them to count her carbs - that's not their job. But they are the ones who said that they did not know the carb count so they did not give it to her. Instead of asking me - or her teacher who counts her carbs. I'm not mad. I'm just frustrated. I don't expect them to count her carbs OR make decisions that go against her health plan.

    Trust me - I know all about how foreign diabetes is to school staff. That was me. Just over 2 years ago. I get that. I'm not trying to be hard on schools at all. Just trying to explain a situation that happened to us, that I am sure happens to others, and show an incredibly easy way to solve the problem.

    As for snacks in elementary school... Sweets will be in school all day next year for Kdg. There are no snacks. And she won't have a snack either. With her pump, she does not need them.

    I think you may have taken this post with the wrong tone in mind. Take a look back and read some of the other stuff and I think you'll see... We have been blessed with a wonderful school and wonderful teachers. We are so lucky! And we know it! And I am IN THE SCHOOL! It can't get any better than it is now!!! And yet we still have things happen because that's just life with D.

  16. Anon,

    Some of these moms know the extensive problems we had with our nurse this year. I agree, that sounded harsh in this context. Not allowing Emma to eat snacks, or to call me as requested was at the bottom of the list of things that caused our problems.
    Forgetting how to bolus for her lunch at least weekly, ("I don't know why she's so high today?"), seriously overdosing her, causing a severe low and then lying about it, (pump history doesn't lie), not following her health plan in spite of numerous meetings about it, making her "run off" high blood sugar in the gym instead of giving insulin,(this really made my blood boil because of Em's other health issues), and spending more time texting than paying attention to the kids in care had more to do with her losing her job.

    The way snacks, parties and various treats were handled in our situation was a reflection of how incompetent our nurse was overall. (we had lots of snacks and parties in Kinder & 1st grade) It was not my decision to fire her, obviously, and there was no hesitation from the principal who did.

    I take my child's health very seriously, and medical professionals who can't learn the basics do not need to be taking care of her. I am a mama bear when I need to be.

  17. Honestly screw Anon!

    Great post and I totally agree!

  18. Great comment, Amy! We all have to be Mama bears at times. Unfortunately, that's just how it is. I think it's very brave to stand up for your chd and her health. To be "that Mom". It's not easy... But if we don't fight for our kids, who will? You go Mama! Love you!

  19. I really don't understand why people have to hide behind anon comments... maybe its because you know you sound like an ass!!!

    Anyway, Justin's entire class has had snacks EVERY YEAR and he is now in 4th grade. I have not been in a K class that doesn't get a snack. Besides... when Justin was on NPH and had to have an extra snack to avoid a low... all of his friend though he was lucky. Little do they know. But still.

    I get what your saying Hallie. There is no excuse not to ask. Good intentions can do more harm than good sometimes. I truly believe that the emotional side of D is just as important to maintain. What kid WANTS to eat the alternative?? Hell, I'm an adult and I don't want to sit there while everyones having cake.

    AND... Amy, good for you. I don't let anyone mess with my baby either.

  20. I have lived with Type I diabetes for close to 40 years. I was a teenager at the time of diagnosis. Over the years, I have met a few Type I kids whose parents (with the best of intentions) allow them to eat anything and everything, whenever they feel like it - no matter how high their BG is at the time. I am guessing you would never do this, based upon your having mentioned that the PreK has moved snack time for your daughter. It's wonderful that they'll do that, but I doubt the same will happen when she gets older and goes to elementary school. Think about this in advance: What would you tell your daughter to do if it were snack time at school, and the snack food was a very sweet birthday treat (maybe an iced cupcake) for a classmate, AND her BG at the time was 300. There are times, in my opinion, when your daughter would not be able to eat that treat or, if she did, that her BG might climb dangerously high. Just remember that the insulin pump is not an artificial pancreas. Some parents treat it as though it is.

  21. Thanks for the insighful comment. Even though I'm a type I myself, it makes my blood boil when even parents with good intentions deny kids stuff, and especially when they say "Nothing tastes as healthy as good blood sugars".. I'll even say, I believe in lower/low carb, but in this day and age, allergies to food aside, is there a really a reason to deny a treat and deny kids the joy of participation.. Being diabetic is hard enough, to also be told No No No. .. Also to have someone go, You don't have a kid, you dont know.. I sure DO know what it feels like to be the odd one out.

  22. Did forget one thing. The person saying the kid should be denied cuz his/her BG was high... Perhaps if the already mature enough, suggest to the child or even the person watching/guiding the carb counts that they might suggest they pass at the snack, or wait for a correction bolus to kick in before having that snack if possible.. Enpowerment is key here. But dont flat out go. No you shouldnt have it.. More like, yah might not want to have it, or have it later...


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