Yesterday Emma came home from school and told me that during afternoon recess she had decided to play with a couple of kindergarten friends of hers. I think it's adorable how much of a big sister type she is sometimes with little kids. She is not actually a big sister at all, but she most definitely would be an excellent one if I ever had another baby! Anyway, she was telling me that they had asked her about her diabetes. They wanted to know what her pump was and what diabetes meant and how come she had it but they didn't. She told me that she knew she had to explain it to them in words that they would understand and she found that a little bit difficult. She told them about the pancreas and how it helps their bodies use the sugar in them properly...and her pancreas just doesn't do that anymore because it is lazy. She told them that her pump helps her body do what it is supposed to do. She said that basically her pump is just like their pancreas. I was very proud of her for taking the time to talk to them and answer their questions as best she could. It got me thinking though, I wonder how many times a day she is reminded that she is diabetic. I mean of course she knows she is and I'm sure she thinks about it every time I have to check her BG or bolus her for food she eats. It's right in her face...it's attached to her all the time...how could she forget about it? Really though, I wonder how often she comes across other kids or even teachers during her day that ask her about it. I wonder if it is annoying to her. I wonder if it bothers her or makes her feel different? For the most part, I think that she is as ok as anyone could be with it really. I think that she likes talking about it with younger kids...it makes her feel special and important. I think that she likes showing them her infusion site and seeing their faces when she tells them that is where the insulin goes into her body...it makes her feel brave. However, I think if I was in her position...I would probably get really annoyed with it after awhile...always having to explain...to inform...to change people's perceptions of this disease. Actually I know that it is annoying...because in a way I do the same thing many days. I stand up and explain things to people who ask and to people who are misinformed. I try to set the record straight and dispell a lot of the myths and misconceptions out there about type 1 diabetes. I do it because I don't like knowing that there is so much ignorance and so much confusion out there between type 1 and type 2. I want people to know...I want them to ask me...I want them to show me that they honestly care enough to learn about it.
I think that it must be a huge responsibility for her though. To have to educate the public at 7 years old is a big deal. It's a grownup task. It's not something that she should have to do. So, while I am extremely proud of her for doing it...it hurts my heart a little as well. I wish she could just have kid thoughts running through her mind all the time. I wish these grownup thoughts could always be left to the grownups.It's incredible to me just how much diabetes affects every aspect of her life. It has forced her to grow up a lot faster than other kids her age. It has thrust her into the spotlight whether she likes it or not. It has made her feel different. It has made her feel alone. It has made her feel seperate. I hate that about diabetes. I hate how no matter how hard I try...it still gets in there and tries to mess with her day.
There is a line from the song "Timshel" by Mumford and Sons that I love. It goes, "...and you have your choices...and these are what make man great...his ladder to the stars." It really makes me realize that while, yes...diabetes does suck....it takes and takes and takes...it changes me...it changes her...it gets in the way, it forces her to live and think beyond her years.........it is really all about how we choose to handle things. It's about how we choose to react to a situation. How we choose to think and feel and respond. That is what makes us incredible people.....our ability to choose. So, yes it did hurt my heart a little to hear her tell me the story yesterday about her little impromptu education session on the playground. It also made me extremely proud though to know that she chose to react to the questions in a good way. She chose to try to help them and their curiosity...she chose to inform them...she chose to share a part of her life. I think above all else, that is a good thing....her ability to make that choice is part of what makes her great and will help her on her ladder to the stars.