I recently stayed with some friends who are regularly visited by their two and a half year old grand daughter. Not surprisingly, there is a certain amount of mutual adoration in the air when she is around: Princess (and I don’t mean that ironically – she is a gorgeous, pretty, clever, little princess) is the centre of attention all the time and if she falls over or knocks her knee, she runs to granny or grandad for a cuddle.
She is at that curious age where bags, boxes, etc are to be looked into and emptied. There’s nothing better than a handbag to go rummaging in and, I must admit, I am intrigued by the huge keyrings that come out of some bags. So when my friend innocently mentioned Princess was looking through my little handbag I left on the bed, I should not have been surprised. However, my little handbag did not contain keys and purse: it contained my diabetes kit. Internally, I had a little panic when I thoughts about Princess pricking herself or breaking one of my insulin vials. Hopefully, I was reasonable calm externally when I suggested that was not a good idea as it contained needles.
My friends know I have diabetes. I don’t hide it so I often leave my little handbag on the bench in the kitchen or coffee table in the living room. But suddenly, I have to think about where it is and keep it out of reach (and sight) of little prying fingers. Or do I?
As I do not live with children, this is not something I have had to consider with my diabetes. But as I thought about it more, I realised Princess is growing up and I continue to visit her grandparents. So I will have to consider more than keeping my needles out of her way. I will have to explain what is in the bag and why I need it.
I may be able to avoid the conversation by always injecting out of sight but that is not what I do. I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t inject publicly but I don’t hide when I inject: I do it in public: and I believe it is a chance for Princess to learn what is happening.
I could leave it for her parents or grandparents to explain but not only does that seem a cowardly way out, I know more about diabetes and I don’t want he to be misinformed at a young age. Some friends ask lots of questions about diabetes and some just let me get on with it. I have no preference either way. These friends are of the latter type.
How do I explain it to he in a way that is serious but not scary? In a way that she learns my injections are important for my health but that diabetes (yes, you’ve read it here before) doesn’t stop me doing what I want in life? And in a way that she will understand when she sees someone else injecting but not expect to be doing it for herself?
I can’t start to imagine how difficult it is to explain to a child when they get diabetes. Thankfully, I do not have to do that. But I would like to know how I can explain diabetes to a three year old if she asks next time I see her. Suggestions, please?