I had a great idea for a Wordless Wednesday post (which I may still post later), but in light of something that has happened, I’m going to forgo the post for now and post about something that’s on my heart.
They can be so mean at times. Sometimes, they are that way just because they have no guidance on how to act. Some, because they are repeating misinformation or misguided information from their adult caretakers, whether they are the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles… you get the picture. And that is why we get so angry when we hear things like what was said to Leighann’s daughter, Q, at school. In case you are not friends with her on Facebook, one child told Q that if she didn’t take care of herself, she was going to die. Of course, Leighann, being the great D-mom, stepped in and tried to handle the situation calmly and politely, but the child wouldn’t listen because he/she trusted what his parent told him/her. I’m all about your children trusting what you tell them with 1000% accuracy to be right, wrong, this way, that way…I mean, purple is purple, not green…. but when it’s misguided or totally wrong?
When I read what she had written, it brought back many memories of what children would say to me when I was younger. “YOU have DI-abetes! Which means you’ll be the first of us to die!” (4th grade). “They told me not to play with you.” (me) Why? “Because, you have diabetes – and I could catch it.” (8, maybe 9 years old?) “But you’re not fat like (insert family name here).” “You’re not really low! You’re just faking it so you can get a candy bar from the cafeteria! And by the way, Ms. Cafeteria lady said you need to come pay her for this.” (This, during a low in the 40’s during P.E.) “Oh, she looks so much better now! She doesn’t look sickly anymore! So healthy! What have you done differently??” (Told to my mom)
Most of the others, I’ve blocked out because they were just that stupid or they hurt worse than those. The problem is, this happens and will continue to happen unless parents are properly informed at the beginning of each school year, not just the teachers. And even then, we can’t guarantee that they’ll get it right even then. Most parents, when their own children are diagnosed, tell how they knew of diabetes, but thought it was only older people… or people who ate too much… or didn’t exercise enough… or because they fed their kids too much sugar… etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc………. (Can ya see my eyes roollllling with discust?) It’s not until they are on this side of the fence that they understand because they have to.
Parents of non-d-kids – learn the FACTS about what type 1 diabetes really is. Inform your children with the right information, and also teach them how to interact with kids who have type 1 diabetes. And give positive information! Diabetes does not equal death. Get involved with the local JDRF or ADA chapter. Do something other than passing on your assumptions that could hurt our kids. Put yourself in our shoes for just a minute. Imagine our child was yours and yours was ours. Wouldn’t you want us to make sure our kids really knew the truth about this condition?
To the parents of d-kids – I know it hurts your heart and makes mad momma-bear come out when you hear hurtful things said to your kids. You want to put a shield around them and hope and pray they never are hurt more than they already do by having this disease. But I can guarantee you that it will happen. Some kid will say something and it will leave a permanent reminder in your child’s mind of what they said and how it hurt. The best defense you can give to them personally is to help them learn what to say back to them in different situations. You’re not always going to be there to overhear or see what another kid says, and they’re going to have to learn how to say what can be said, learn when to just walk away, and learn when a teacher needs to get involved. And the teachers need to report these incidents to the parents as well. Reach out to the parent too… by a phone call, a letter, a lunch-date? Maybe try to even set it off in the beginning and have informational letters sent home to the parents in the beginning of the school year with email or phone numbers of how to reach you if they have any questions or concerns.
And for the schools – you know, adding a little step into the kid’s first-of-the-year education would be great. Even do a day or two focusing on conditions that kids in the classrooms may have, such as diabetes, asthma, etc – and for them to learn what the condition truly is and how to handle situations when a teacher may not be present.
I know I’m not a d-parent. I’ve not been in those shoes before. But I do have diabetes myself, and remember what it’s like to have hurtful things said or done to me because of being a diabetic. I am also the parent of a child who has multiple food allergies, so I know what it’s like to get angry or upset when someone just doesn’t understand the difference between two totally different conditions, though both are triggered by the same ingredient…. Or just doesn’t understand it at all, only assumes.