Pretty much since the beginning of the school year, Emma has been dealing with some bullying type behaviors from others. She has come home to tell me many different things that occured during the day that ranged from a boy hitting her and yelling in her ear....to the next day telling her that he loves her and trying to kiss her (yea, i'm thinking he has a crush on her). Other things like a boy in another class finding out that she is diabetic and basically running all around her and acting scared that he was going to catch diabetes from her if he touched her. She handled that one excellently by laughing at his ignorance and telling him that diabetes is not contagious. She has dealt with the usual highs and lows in blood sugars that take time out of her day and draw attention to her...remind her of her diabetes. In fact, just the other day while we were out Christmas shopping at the mall, she gave me the old familiar, "Mommy, I think I'm low." and we paused in the middle of the mall to test and find out. As I knelt down and pulled out her meter bag and got everything together, she stood over me...eyes darting about...looking all around us. She said to me, "Mommy, you know what I hate about being low in stores? I hate when we have to test my finger and people stare. I hate how they walk by really slow and stare at me."
.......words from her mouth that felt like a punch to the gut for me....the look in her eyes made my own eyes instantly start leaking....
It was really the first time she has ever expressed just how much this disease affects her. Maybe she has never mentioned it before because she was younger...and we all know that littler kids tend to not care about that sort of thing. They just want the act of testing done and over with so they can continue on about their game of skipping through the mall and playing I Spy. Now that she is 7, I am slowly starting to see a shift in her thinking...a shift in her way of processing this life. It honestly scares me. Her ability to handle things at 7 years old is astounding to me. The one boy who was hitting her at school and yelling in her ear on one particular day was obviously reprimanded. Well, today Emma's school attended mass at the church to celebrate advent. Of course one of the prayers they recited was "Our Father"....I'm sure even if you are not Catholic, you have probably heard it at some point in your life. Well, as we were leaving the church, she said to me, "Mommy, when we got to the part about 'forgive those that trespass against us...' I thought of (the bully boy)...and I decided to forgive him. How in the world does a 7 year old have the capacity to relate something like that to her own life and have the ability to recognize it and act on it. Amazing.
From the get go with diabetes, I have never been one to hide it...if we are out in public and need to test...we just do it. If we need to bolus or give injections...we just do it. I have never been a fan of hiding it or making it into a secretive thing for her...I have never wanted her to feel ashamed of it or somehow different because of it.
So, once the low at the mall was treated...I hugged her...I looked her straight in the eyes and told her that it was ok to feel how she was feeling. I told her that the reason why people stare is because it is probably not something they are used to seeing...such a little girl having to squeeze blood from her finger. I told her that possibly they were staring to see what the heck the meter actually was...possibly a new kind of phone or mp3 player? I told her that it honestly doesn't really matter why they are staring...what really matters is how she perceives it and how she chooses to handle it. I told her that the only person in life that she will ever have any kind of control over...is herself. So, in my opinion...in order for her to be happy...I thought that she should take it as an opportunity to educate people...a chance to let them see it...see what a meter looks like...see her test...see what she has to do in order to be healthy. Education of any form is never a bad thing.
We left the mall that day with her smiling, holding my hand, and skipping through the parking lot. I fell asleep that night knowing that we had won yet another battle with diabetes. We came out on top. I hope she knows that I will always be in her corner of the ring helping her fight these battles and cheering her on for the battles she must fight alone.