"I wish I were like Eric," he said

So here’s a show stopper: what do you do when your child - the one who doesn’t have diabetes - expresses envy of the one who does?


I was putting Eric in front of his dinner the other night and after seating him at the table, I stopped to take his BG - 49 - cripes! Rushed off to get a juicebox and set it in front of him, but E was in Cranky-Low-Land. Temper tantrum ensued, with me cajoling and coaxing him to drink the juice and praying I wouldn't have to resort to glucagon. Finally, I got out the Big Guns - a spoonful of chocolate syrup, the very last stop before the glucagon express. Eric took it, blood sugar rose, sweet disposition was restored, and dinner was deemed acceptable... so with a huge sigh of relief, I turned to serving Nate his dinner.

That's when big brother Nate piped up, "I wish I was like Eric."

"What do you mean?" I asked, really only half listening.

"I wish I had diabetes too," he answered.

THAT got my attention. "Oh, no, no!" I said, "honey, don't wish..."

...and then I stopped. What was I supposed to say? Do I tell Nate that diabetes is a bad thing, and that he shouldn't want to have it, and have his brother hear me say that and maybe grow up thinking there's something wrong with him? Yes, I know that Eric is only 3 and probably was more interested in his food than it what I was saying, but at the same time, I believe these messages can and do get recorded into the child's unconscious mind. I do not want Eric to believe anywhere in his being that I think he's anything other than perfect, irrespective his non-functional beta cells. On the other hand, I also don't want either of these boys to grow up thinking diabetes is unimportant or trivial -- it's so important that they both realize it's to be taken seriously.

I started to tell Nate some of the disadvantages of diabetes then, but that didn't work either. "Eric can't..." is not something I want said in our household. "Eric can't eat without checking his blood sugar," or "Eric can't have food without programming his pump for insulin," or "Eric can't have as many sweets as the other kids at the daycare" are things we are very, very careful not to say in Eric's hearing. We don't want Eric being an object of pity, or feeling that he's deprived, or the myriad other emotional issues that can arise for a child with diabetes. So I froze for a minute, not knowing what to say.

At last, I thought to ask Nate why he wishes he were like Eric.

"Because Eric gets chocolate syrup when he's sick," he replied. Stopped me dead in my tracks, that one - who'd have thought that Eric's treatment for low BG could be perceived by his brother as treatment? I suppose I should've known - Nate reminds me every night to see if Eric is low because he knows that Eric will get 4 oz of chocolate milk if he is, and the remaining 4 oz invariably goes to Nate so it isn't wasted.

I'm sure I'll figure out a way to explain this to Nate, a way that makes it clear that diabetes isn't something you want to have happen to you... even though it in no way changes how much you're loved.

That is cute!

Nate sounds like he is definitely mature for his age, since he understands so much about T1 and reminds you to check on Eric! (And Eric will be mature for his age, too-- having T1 makes you grow up fast!)

My mom had this problem so she let my brother who wanted to say the same thing see everything like my needle injections ( which we used to do in the parents room ) um since at the time I was on injections I had to eat at the right time with no way to argue so my brother did to and after all that seemed harsh to my parents to do to my brother since this is a disease the family as a whole is affected by they switched my low treatments like the candy switched to 1 slice of bread with little peanut butter if I fought that then it was a glass of milk or later on glucose tabs which they let my brother try and he said yuck and never said anything about it again. ohh and also glucose gel he tried that and spit it out! so you will find a way my parents never made me feel different or missing out on stuff because of diabetes.

@Tom, yes indeed. Eric’s nap time on weekends is prime-time for Nate. It’s a little harder during the week since I work and the boys are in daycare, but Nate gets his share of attention.

@Katie, Nate is a very, very smart kid. He understands a great deal and I have to be pretty careful what I say. When Eric went to the hospital, literally 24 hours after we’d had to put one of our horses to sleep due to a broken leg (worse, it was the baby of the herd, a six-month-old filly Nate had seen birthed), he asked me as soon as I got home from the hospital after 2 days’ absence whether the doctor was going to “put Eric to sleep so he could go to heaven.” I hastened to reassure him that unlike Sweet Melissa, Eric’s problem could be fixed, and there would be NO going to heaven for Eric, not for a long, long, long time. And that was when Nate was only 3 years old.

It sounds as tho both of those boys are really lucky to have you.

Sometimes I feel like they have me surrounded :0

Well, of course. You are out numbered!

Out numbered and frequently outsmarted…