At each three-month endocrinologist appointment that we attend, a set of paperwork is given to us to fill in before we see the doctors.
For the most part, the paperwork is very routine with questions on blood sugars and pump settings, recent illness and or updates in care. There is one section though, that I have started to think about a bit more.
"Have you discussed with your son/daughter the effects of:
Diabetes and smoking? _______
Diabetes and alcohol?______
Diabetes and sex?_______"
The first two, I have. Mostly about the dangers of engaging in risky behavior that is not only illegal but has serious health consequences. I throw in 'drugs' for good measure. And 'piercings'. And 'tattoos'. Blech.
The third, other than discussing the importance of waiting until marriage and how babies are born, not so much. My girls are young and it has always seemed irrelevant at this stage in life, especially since they have not shown much thought towards boys or dating.
What I have been saving for my daughters is my belief that they need to wait for the intimacy that comes with marriage not just for abstinence reasons but because the man that they are with needs to be 'pump worthy'.
Their future love needs to be compassionate and understanding of the highs and the lows; to be a support in the face of an a1c that isn't perfect; to be a shoulder to lean on when it is needed; to be watchful and loving during the wee hours of the night; to navigate intimacy with a set of tubing, cannula, sensor and pump; and most especially to see well beyond the word 'diabetic' and only know that they are luckiest man in the world to be with the woman of their dreams.
Anything less than that is not only non-marriage material, but also not even remotely worthy of having sex with.
To explain that to my daughters, I need to wait until they have grown a bit more and are ready to understand that not all men are equal, even if they are 'cute'. In the meantime, my job is to continue to nurture them in a loving home by setting an example with a strong, caring and supportive marriage.
Last week, the Naturally Sweet dad and I attended our first parent night at the local junior high school. Part of our rotation in and out of classrooms was to sit through a meeting in Life Skills, a class much like the old-school home economics that each of us took back in 6th or 7th grade.
The room looked generally the same, with stoves, sinks and sewing machines scattered about. The main difference was the teacher discussion. The topic focused entirely on sex education.
With both us being fairly open (because I have always felt that it would be better to come from a parent than a friend), this was entirely new territory. The topics that the child will be learning are listed below.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Pregnancy and Child Birth
Sexual Harassment, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Predators
Sex and the Law
Family Planning and Contraception
Huh. Shocking to say the least.
That sure seems like a big load of adulthood coming towards these kids. It is also in conflict with what I have taught them, or more importantly, what I haven't taught them.
The fact of the matter is that kids need to learn these things. Sadly, there ARE teen pregnancies and kids do go to school WITH stds. It's awful. It's shameful. It's a million things that break my heart.
And while I sort through that, I think back to the forms that we fill out at the endocrinologist office with the simple discussion of diabetes and sex.
It's time to explain a little bit more. And with the rest of the topics, it won't be a one-time conversation. I will leave the door open to talk some more, because with type 1 diabetes in our home, the door is ALWAYS OPEN.
Which brings me back to a silver lining of living with type 1 diabetes; we are always here for our children to carefully watch over blood sugars, to guide, to nurture...
And to teach that waiting for the love of their life (and one who is pump-worthy) will be well worth it.
I wonder if some of those topics wouldn't be needed if that was the case for everyone.