Q goes forth in the world as a very outgoing and caring person.
On the school playground, she’s known as the “baby whisperer” because before and after the school day she talks and plays with younger siblings. She is great at talking to fussy babies and toddlers, often calming them down.
During the first week of kindergarten two years ago she became friends with a child in the other class who has Down Syndrome. When I asked Q questions about this other child (curious as to what she would say), she described many aspects of the girl and the only point alluding to her difference was that “she doesn’t talk very well.”
Q and this girl were moved together into the same grouping of desks during the second week of school this year. I didn’t really didn’t think anything of it because the teacher shuffled many of the kids around. But before school the other day, this other girl’s aid, who has her own spot in this foursome of desks, told me that Q is really great to this child. She is helpful and caring. When I told Q of the compliment she received and that I am proud of her for being a good friend (never mentioning the girl’s condition), she told me that this friend needed a partner that week and she had volunteered and that she even taught her a dance during music class.
I will never know if Q’s caring personality comes from having a chronic medical condition or if it is just inherently who she is. But I have no doubt that she will become an advocate for people with diabetes.
She’s already shown this during the Kiss-a-Pig fundraiser this year when she raised money and awareness. She spoke very well on the radio and led a school assembly Oprah-style by taking over the mic from me.
I often recall the time that she was probably four and we were in the cafe at the library eating the snack we brought. She had finished and went over to talk with an elderly couple at another table. When her brother finished his snack and we were ready to return to the children’s section, I went to threesome. The octogenarian told me that he and Q were talking diabetes and that he is type 2 and takes pills. He and Q had been talking about testing blood sugars!
For the second year in a row, we have run into another family at daily swim lessons at a local pool. The father is type 1, diagnosed in his 30’s, and also uses the OmniPod. This summer every day as they passed each other on the deck they’d call out where they were wearing their pod that day. (And also she should be a paid spokesperson for Bands 4 Life because she was telling him all about them and he said they would really solve his problem of catching it on a doorway when he wears it on his arm.)
The reason why I titled this post “Never Doubt Your Impact” is actually because I was thankful for what someone else did for Q, but it turns out that this person was actually thankful for what Q did for him.
When we went to the JDRF Family Day earlier this summer, there were sessions in the morning, followed by lunch, then free time in the amusement park. My kids are a little too young to really engage in the informational sessions, but luckily JDRF had a stash of toys to keep the kids occupied. At the table next to us they had a bunch of coloring sheets and crayons. Q asked if she could sit there and color during the meetings and the two volunteers who were in their teens or early 20’s said it was okay with them.
I was so grateful that this one young man took the time to talk with Q for at least an hour and indulge her as I am sure she talked his ear off. I remember thinking that I wish I knew what all she was saying! I had no idea if they were talking about diabetes or coloring or who knows what.
After the event I received an e-mail from one of the JDRF staff asking if she could give Q’s name and address to one of the volunteers. It turns out that this young man has a sibling with diabetes and volunteers with JDRF. He said that spending that time with Q reminded him why he gives his time and why it’s so important and he wanted to say thank you. I replied that, no, we should be thanking him!
The other day Q grabbed the mail as we arrived home from school and there was a large padded envelope addressed to her. I pulled back the tab and saw that there were a few small presents for her and a card. Luckily she asked her grandmother to read it because I probably would have been choking back tears between the words.
You helped me remember how enjoyable a simple activity like coloring could be. More importantly, you helped me realize how important a positive outlook can be.
Listening to you talk about your condition and how proud you were was nothing but extraordinary! I wanted to write and tell you how proud I am of YOU! You have the courage, passion and sociable qualities to do whatever you want in this world and I’m confident you’ll be successful!!
My point in telling you this is not to build Q up, as all of our children with diabetes are extraordinary, but to remind you that sometimes just taking five minutes to talk with an elderly person, or choosing a person with special needs as your partner and considering her a friend, or high-fiving a fellow T1 as you pass him at the pool, or taking the time to sit and color with a child and really listen has an impact far greater than the few minutes it took.
The return can be tenfold…for both of you.