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Explaining diabetes to a toddler

Before this week, I hadn’t really had to explain diabetes to Arthur. He knows I take injections (“jabs”) and he knows he can’t touch my glucometer kit and he can only put the lid on my insulin pen if I hold it out to him. But apart from that he hasn’t seemed too interested in my chronic condition. Until this week.What’s happened, of course, is that he’s reached the classic 2.5 year old “Why?” phase. I thought we had skipped it for a “What’s that?” phase, but no. That was the precursor. “Why?” is now his favourite word, whether or not it makes grammatical sense in a sentence. (Sometimes I think he likes it more when it doesn’t make grammatical sense, in fact.)

Yesterday, we hit a new low, or high, depending how you look at it: Arthur pointed at our gardener, Joe, and asked, “Why’s he Joe?”

Why indeed! Why are any of us who we are? Tempted as I was to launch into a philosophical discussion of the nature of identity, I instead countered with, “Why are you Arthur?” which flummoxed him for a minute, until he asked, “Why’s he Joe?” again, and I had to explain that it’s because his parents named him Joe. Philosophy can wait for another day.

Anyway, my point is that he is suddenly noticing and questioning everything. So when I gave my customary pre-meal injection in my stomach the other day he came up close and watched me, then looked up and said, “It made a hole, Mommy!” Which made me feel incredibly sorry for myself. I forget that injections make holes. Poor me!

The next day, my monthly medicine arrived in a cardboard box (I get it delivered) and Arthur got very excited because since Christmas he has decided that cardboard boxes hold magical things. He asked what it was and I said it was my muti (which is what we call medicine). He immediately asked, “Why you sick, Mommy?” and my heart broke, just a little. “I’m not sick, my lovey, it’s just the jabs I have to take every day,” I told him, and he seemed quite happy with that answer.

But inside, I completed the sentence: the jabs I have to take every day for the rest of my life to keep me alive. Yoh.

Isn’t it funny how having a child and having to explain the world to a child can make you see things again?

Published inHealthMom

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