My Mom dug up a bunch of picture books she had saved and gave them to my kids, and among them was a book called “A Book About Me” that I had as a 7-year old. This was a printed book with questions for a child to document (according to the book subtitle) “stories and pictures about my favorite real and make-believe things.” So it was like keeping a diary, but being prompted on the subject matter. My 7-year old daughter looked it over quickly, and I have to agree with her assessment that her handwriting is much better than mine was.
But I was fascinated by this. If I was 7 years old, I had been diagnosed with diabetes for 2 years - what did I think about diabetes as a kid? I cannot remember. Maybe “A Book About Me” would have some answers.
Unfortunately, I must not have thought about diabetes at all, or maybe the book didn’t ask the right questions.
The book was a lot of fill-in-the blank stuff and room for pictures, like “I wish I had a flying ____ to ride. Here are some pictures of where I would go.” The pages included my magic wishes and assumed I would wish for a flying something, to own a store, and to have a zoo animal. I had filled in the blanks, as directed, in scratchy pencil. (I wanted a jaguar for a pet.)
It does look like I was fixated on sweets when I wrote that I would like to eat “giant sundaes” for dessert, and if I had a store I would sell “ice cream, cakes, pies with fruit filling.” That makes sense, because in those days I got one shot of NPH insulin in the morning, then I was instructed not to eat sweets. Dessert was probably something I really wanted, but I never wrote why, as in “if not for this accursed autoimmune disease I would eat eat giant sundaes every day!” Oh yeah, I was 7 years old and I answered the questions in a just-the-facts manner. I was not going to be that introspective.
The book points out a missed financial opportunity. Along with ice cream my store would sell “computers and mechincal [sic] robots.” I wrote this in 1978, but didn’t get to meet Steven Jobs in time to make my fortune. There were sections for me to write down details about myself, but at the time I thought it was important only to note that I liked to play baseball, swim and bike. And my hair was brown.
I turned the pages, and found my third magic wish near the end! The book assumed this was to have “A Million Dollars.” Did I wish for a cure for diabetes? No. Here are the prompts, with my responses (misspellings intact):
If I had a million dollars, I would buy "a big house and then I would get mareed and I wouldn’t have babys so I would not hafto spend more of my muny the end."
I would give some of it to "the por kids."
I would save some of it for “valyuable things.”
Although I was apparently an unimaginative kid (creative spelling aside) I was right on with the part about not having kids and spending money. If only I had followed my own advice.
So this was disappointing, but I shouldn’t be surprised by my responses. Although I am always impressed with how clever my kids can be at times, it is not yet possible to have a “deep” conversation. I was no different. I know how I might answer many of those questions differently today, but in 1978, diabetes was apparently not an important part of how I saw myself. Maybe that’s a good thing, though.