Tom Double, Junior Dandy – by Olly Double
My younger son Tom, who’s nearly 12 now, has been into dressing up and superheroes for about as long as he’s been diabetic – which is to say for as long as he can remember. When he was tiny, he wore a Spider-man costume so often that it went through at the knees and for so long that the bottom of the trouser legs were halfway up his calves. In fact, when he grew out of the Spidey suit, we bought him a bigger one, not as a present but as an item of everyday clothing.
Even now, he likes dressing up as heroic characters – last year, he bought himself a tweed jacket so he would look like Matt Smith as Dr Who. There’s something incredibly cool about seeing an 11-year-old in tweed. It’s not just about dressing up as people from TV or comic books, though.
Tom is a bona fide junior dandy. He loves wearing suits, jackets, ties and braces. At weekends and school holidays, he’ll often get changed several times a day, and he has a big clothes rail at the end of his bed to choose his latest outfit from. And as if all of that wasn’t enough – and I kid you not – he’s recently asked if he can have a top hat for his birthday.
Tom’s dandyism is one of the things I love about him. It’s also something I’m very glad about. In many ways, he’s not the most confident kid in the world, and I think this is partly related to his diabetes. He was very gung-ho about it when he was little – at infant school he thought it made him ‘famous’ among his classmates – but as he’s got older it’s chipped away at his confidence. Hypos, stupid kids telling him they don’t want to catch his ‘diabetes germs’, and the general fears that come along with having a chronic medical condition have all taken their toll. My wife Jacqui thinks that his obsession with superheroes comes from a desire to be strong and overcome the difficulties his body presents him with.
Talking of which, the other day he came downstairs dressed as an imaginary character he’d just made up. He was wearing a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, black leggings – don’t ask – and a scarlet bandana made out of stretch nylon covered the bottom half of his face. What was particularly cool was that he’d got another piece of the red stretch fabric and used it to tie his insulin pump to his upper thigh. He’d worked his diabetes into the costume, and made a design feature of it. He was being a diabetic martial arts hero. I suggested he should call himself THE INSULINJA.