My sweet friend called the other day to vent about the icky, sticky, sweet mayhem happening at her daughter's holiday party at school.
Listening to her vent, it occurred to me that this is quite possibly the first year that I have not had to deal with that very same issue.
Both daughters have moved on to upper grades which no longer host elaborate birthday, holiday, or even end-of-year parties. The kids are in school to learn. Shocking, huh?
I should feel sad, right? Because really, this means that my kids are growing up. And in a way, I do, especially if I think about it like that. Mostly though, I don't. One of my most favorite posts of all is called Classroom Holiday Parties (or What Stinks?). I also had a laugh at this old one where in the comments section I mention once again, classroom holiday parties. It was a repetitive problem, apparently.
The truth of the matter is that the school holiday party (or insert anyone of the other millions of food-based celebrations in elementary school) is a challenging event to balance for our families living with type 1 diabetes. I have written about it several times because we were at a school where every single event was celebrated with food - Hello book fairs and bake sales, field day and mysterious green smoothies, walk-to-school and free bananas (true!), or my favorite, weekly popcorn, ice-cream and cookie sales geared towards the children. Over the years and through many school party experiences, I tried to come to terms with how to juggle blood sugars, junk food and my child's happiness. But no matter how hard I tried to make it all better, it still was stressful - for me AND for my child.
The problem is this: as a mom of two with type 1 diabetes, I am always advocating for the rights of my child. They can (and should) embrace and enjoy every part of life. Remember that well-worn phrase of mine? Kids first, diabetes second.
However, when you live with type 1 diabetes, especially as a child, having a school celebration is almost a guarantee that your child is going to automatically have higher-than-normal blood sugars just from the pure excitement. It doesn't matter if a single drop of food hits his/her mouth. Trust me, the adrenaline boost alone will easily send them into the 200 mg/dl and beyond. Little people with big blood sugar swings - that could be the name of a TV show.
Unfortunately, since the kids are not in their natural home environment (giving a nod of understanding to why some families choose homeschool), it is super difficult to bring those blood sugars back into line without having a major downward spiral from low blood sugars. Not to mention that given a young age, even feeling a blood sugar rise or fall is a tricky thing. Kids are so preoccupied that they don't stop to listen to what their bodies are trying to tell them.
The other quandary is how to then add an assortment of unknown party food, measuring, counting carbs and determining ingredients AND dealing with the already higher-than-normal blood sugars. Quite often, especially if you are a working parent, you are doing this remotely and relying on either your 8-year old or a staff member to help. Even if you are standing right there, trying to figure out how many carbs Mrs. Smith's prized chocolate fudgy brownie boats contains is a nightmare. Even using the SWAG (super wild-assed guess), you are still bolusing insulin and only able to hope for the best.
To add to that, you are also dealing with deflecting comments of which kind of diabetes your child has and also the, 'Yes, she can eat that. Whether it is carrots or cookies, everything requires insulin' while double - while checking that your child actually finished Mrs. Smith's prized chocolate fudgy brownie boats because you already gave them insulin for it. 'Yes, you have to eat all of it!', which again confuses everyone around you, especially because you are talking to a diabetic!
Towards the end of fourth grade for my youngest daughter, I pretty much had answered and discussed type 1 diabetes so much that the final holiday parties were much less cumbersome. She was also older, more aware and more able to manage much of her own daily care.
It only took six years to get there.
So to all of you moms that are still dealing with this, I applaud and encourage you and your little one. In the same way that I did with my Naturally Sweet Sisters, you will get through this time in life too.
Just remember that it is only one day. One party. One event. One memory.
And be sure to take a lot of pictures. Because they do grow up quickly!