So Emma is turning ten next month. It's a big deal of course...double digits and all. We were discussing birthday party plans tonight and she mentioned how it would be nice to have a friend or two sleep over after her Rainbow Loom bracelet making party at Michael's craft store. I told her that was fine with me and asked her who she would like to invite to spend the night. After thinking it over for a while, she mentioned one particular friend. This friend has spent the night once before and she's a nice girl...well behaved...very friendly. However, the night she slept over here...I remember her making a big deal out of Emma checking her blood sugar and commenting about how the blood freaked her out and it was gross and couldn't she just not do that. Sigh...I get it...I really do...this friend doesn't see Emma every day...they don't go to school together...so she's not familiar with the whole diabetes routine. I understand and completely get that blood and finger pokes and all that jazz is not for everyone. We didn't shove it in her face. We didn't make a big deal about it. We just went about our regular diabetes business as quickly and discreetly and respectfully as possible while she was here. So, I reminded Emma of this whole scenario from last time and asked her if she was sure that this certain friend was the one she really wanted to spend the night. I didn't want to choose for her...I didn't want to sway her opinion of this friend or make her change her mind...I just wanted to make sure that she was certain with her choice.
Well, what she said next really....well...it left me speechless, to be honest. Emma is big into the Percy Jackson books and movies these days. There's a character in the most recent movie that is a cyclops. The other kids in the story are not...they kind of see him as different...weird...not normal. Emma told me that she changed her mind...she wanted to choose a different friend to spend the night because she remembered how it felt when this friend was making grossed out faces while she checked her blood sugar. She said, "it sort of made me feel like a monster, Mommy...just like in the Percy Jackson movie. It made me feel different and weird. She looked at me like I was weird. I know I'm weird...but I'm weird in a good way...a funny way...not a monster way...and I don't want her to look at me like that, so I think I want to ask someone else."
It kills me to know that she felt like a monster. It feels like someone stuck a knife in my heart and kicked me in the gut. It hurts to know that it's probably not the first time she felt that way....and it most certainly won't be the last. My daughter is tough. She's stronger than most adults I know. She has accepted her diabetes from the very beginning. She lives it. It's all she's ever known for almost as far back as she can remember. She is starting to forget the few memories she had of life before needles and blood and insulin and carbs. Those days are becoming a blurry image in a far off place in a time that lives behind a closed door now. That part of her memory is slipping away...because this is her life now...this is her routine...it is what it is and it belongs to her.
I wish I could fight every battle for her. I wish I could tell every person she will encounter who happens to have a grossed out look on their face or an ignorant comment falling from their lips...I wish I could tell them to shut up. I wish I could tell them to look at my daughter....really LOOK at her...don't feel pity...don't feel disgust...don't project your ignorant thoughts and feelings out and judge her.....I wish I could shield my daughter from all of these people she is sure to come across in her life....
.....but I can't....
I can't always fight her battles...I can't always shield her from the nastiness in the world...I can't allow her to grow up thinking the world is all sunshine and daisies and full of compassionate people everywhere.....because it's not true. There is ugliness out there. I have to teach her that the one thing she can control in these situations is how SHE reacts to them. She has a choice. She can choose to feel like a monster...different...weird. Or she can choose to see it for what it is...ignorance...and not let that ignorance change the way she feels about herself...because the ignorance is a reflection on them....not her. She knows she is strong...and brave...and kind...and compassionate...and funny weird. SHE knows these things....and I know these things....and THAT is what really matters.
Oh.....and diabetes? Fuck you.