Not long after starting Kindergarten, Sweets had an assignment to do.
She was supposed to create a "Memory Basket". She was to include something that makes her laugh, something from long ago, something warm, something as precious as gold and something that makes you sad.
It's a really neat project to do with a particular children's book (which I can't remember the name of right now...). I've done this with my own class at the start of the year. It helps you get to know one another and builds a sense of community.
Sweets had no trouble picking out her things that she wanted to take. She chose to take her blankie as something warm, a teddy bear she got when she was born as something from long ago, a Spongebob book that our friend Steve (you know - the awesome guy who designed our walk shirts) illustrated as something that made her laugh, a picture of her cousins as something as precious as gold and.... what made her sad?
In all fairness, her FIRST choice was that she wanted to take Gaga because it made her sad that he had to have surgery and be in the hospital.
But since that wasn't possible... the next thing she thought of was diabetes.
I'm never quite sure how to handle things like this. What do I say? What do I do?
I feel like it's important for me to honor her feelings. She's allowed to feel however she wants to feel about diabetes.
So I said, "Diabetes makes you sad? It makes me sad sometimes, too. WHY does it make you sad?"
I was expecting her to say that she didn't like the site changes, that it hurts, that she doesn't like going to the hospital... something like that.
She said, "It makes me sad because I have to test before I eat. I hate that. I just wanna EAT, you know? No testing. I hate waiting."
That surprised me!
And it also made me feel like if that is the worst thing she can think of, maybe I'm doing something right.
So.... how do we take diabetes to school?
I asked her if she would like to take her test kit in and show the kids in her class what she does to test her blood sugar and talk to them a little about diabetes. As long as her teacher was ok with it...
She said YES!
In the past she has wanted to do this.... but this year - I wasn't sure. She's been really "I don't want anyone to see it and I don't want to talk about it" lately. But she said she wanted to.
I asked her if she wanted ME to come talk to the class or if SHE wanted to do it or her teacher. She said me.
So.... after talking to her teacher, we packed up her diabetes kit, used pod, and a copy of our Coco book to take to school.
We went through her kit and I explained what most of the things were. We talked a little bit about the pancreas and how it's supposed to make insulin but hers does not so she has to get it this way... (enter Omnipod). She tested in front of them.
"WOAH - Did that hurt?" one of her classmates asked.
"Nope. I'm used to it." she said.
They LOVED that part! Blood is always a hit.
Then I read the book about Coco. One of the children said, "Hey! I know that monkey! I've seen her with Mickey!"
We talked about how Sweets and other people (and monkeys) with diabetes are able to do the same things that everyone else does - but that they just has to take special care of herself.
Sweets was happy! And so was I. It was the perfect opportunity to share this with her class.
Her class was interested - but five year olds tend to think it's all fun and games to get to go to the clinic and do things like that. They don't see anything other than her leaving the room. And really, they don't think a lot about it.
They see her as a kid. Not a kid with diabetes.
And that does NOT make me - or her - sad.
That makes me very, very happy!