It Takes a Village…or at Least a Classroom

by Leighann on April 20, 2011

I read the post Despising the Big D, written by Steve Woodruff of Impactiviti Blog. The gist of his post is that, from an outsider’s view, diabetes sucks. I began leaving a rather long comment and realized that what I had to say was better posted right here as a jumping off point for some things I have been thinking about.

I am the parent of a six-year-old with diabetes and the way I always think of it in regards to children is “innocence lost.” It’s not fair for a child to have to be anything but a carefree child.

But I see these young children taking it all in stride and adapting, perhaps more easily than many adults would, to the new routines and demands.

And maybe because T1 diabetes seems so prevalent these days, other children are accepting and caring for their friends with diabetes.

One child in my daughter’s class went door to door to raise over $250 for my daughter’s Kiss-a-Pig campaign. Another child approached me in the hall before lunchtime book club and showed concern that my daughter not be excluded from the cookie AND cupcake that day. Another girl, upon hearing the museum rules of “no food and no drink” on a fieldtrip turned to me and said that Q NEEDS to be able to bring those in with her.

Maybe the child who raised so much money will become a fundraiser for a large non-profit. Q gave a presentation about her Kiss-a-Pig campaign to her class and they out fundraised the rest of the school raising over 90% of the total. Because they know her and see her each day checking her blood sugar, having snack earlier than everyone else, getting insulin at lunch, are they more vested in her care and her campaign than other students?

The child who asked me twice “are you sure” that Q could have a cookie at bookclub and a cupcake to celebrate a child’s birthday, is usually the kid who is in trouble. Perhaps he’s learning to be a good friend.

I wrote to the teachers “I am sure this child is frequently chided for his behavior, but he showed compassion for another today so I’d like to nominate him for ‘star of the day.'”

The teacher said that she was going to tell his mom the story at teacher’s conferences the next day.

The child who wanted to make sure that Q could bring her juice boxes and Smarties into the museum had sat next to me on the bus. She was nervous about her first bus trip and I said I would be her partner. I had Q’s pump bag on the seat between us and she asked with curiosity if I could show her what’s inside. As I described each item she asked question after question and got quite the diabetes education.

Perhaps she’ll go on to become an endocrinologist or CDE or nurse.

So while diabetes has definitely changed who my daughter is, and in many ways making her an even more caring and compassionate person and has given her empathy towards others, I think the same is happening for the children around her. And THAT is an amazing and powerful thing.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathy April 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

You know, when I was diagnosed I was in the 7th grade and most of my classmates were kids I’d gone to school with since 1st grade (we were a small, tight-knit bunch). No one ever treated me differently and I remember everyone being really supportive after I got back from the hospital. It made all the difference back then for me emotionally. Kids are indeed pretty amazing 🙂

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2 Tonya April 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

What a beautiful post. Thank you. I have tears in my eyes. As we prepare to send our daughter to school for the first time this fall, I can only hope and pray that she is surrounded and supported by such loving, compassionate people. Thank you for showing me that I don’t need to worry quite so much.

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3 Denise April 20, 2011 at 11:37 am

great post.
happy tears here too!

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4 Angela (Toucan Scraps) April 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

fantastic post, thanks for writing it.

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5 Briley April 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

When I was in elementary school, one of the classroom jobs was walking me down to the nurse. And I think the other kids learned to notice my symptoms because I was definitely unaware as a kid. Fast forward to high school. One of the teachers was also diabetic and he had a low one day and didn’t have anything in with him (apparently), and the guy that I had grown up with knew to send someone to get juice, and fast. The teacher had the juice and then the rest of the class period went on as though nothing was different.

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6 Renata April 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm

LOVED this….so awesome Leighann. I think the more we are open the more opportunities arise for us to educate.

I also want to tell you, from a mother of a child who seems to always be in trouble. You are awesome for stepping up and overlooking the past and blessing the positive behaviour of the one kid. I wish more people did that. (dang it, at my desk at work crying.)

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7 Misty April 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

You got it right…”innocence lost”! And that makes me so sad.
And I agree that these kids are AMAZING! Nice story.

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