Over the last several weeks I've had several people comment on Kacey being "too young" to care for herself. As a D-Momma Bear...part of me wants to growl at comments like these. Being "too young" to care for herself?
Both of my girls have always been mature for their age. They both talked early...read on advanced levels...comprehended much more than most of their peers their age....BUT they had different circumstances than most kids their age. When I was pregnant with Kacey, Kayleigh was in Kindergarten. I worked full time teaching preschool at the daycare Kayleigh had attended since birth. I was always around the corner if she needed me. From the time Kayleigh was born, I spent my lunch breaks with her. When it was almost time for Kacey to be born, I made the decision to be a stay at home Mom. We trudged through those bills and paid off what we could and I busted my butt to make sure all we had was basic neccessity bills. We didn't live fancy lives. We didn't drive around in new cars. (Not that you can't do that and still be a stay at home Mom...please don't bash me for that) But with the income my husband had, I was prepared for it to be rough. And....rough it was! Somehow by faith and love, we made it through the difficult task of buying what we NEEDED, not what we WANTED. Anyway....just a little background....so for the last (almost) 12 years, I've had the chance to be a stay at home Mom with my girls. I was able to be there every single moment they needed me. It also gave me a chance to spend time with them. Many days it was just me and Kacey while Kayleigh was at school. I didn't baby her. I didn't put her in a room with toys to occupy herself. I had her under my feet and talked to her constantly. By the time Kayleigh was 7 and Kacey was 2, they were both in the kitchen with me. Kayleigh was making her own lunches, helping with dinner and baking with assistance. Kacey was standing in a chair at the counter helping me with dishes or watching us prepare meals. They've always acted more grown up than they were. They had responsibilities around the house. Yes, even at the age of 3, Kacey picked up her toys, fed the fish, and gave the dog water. As they grew, they had more responsibilities. They were not chores...they were LIFE SKILLS. By the time Kayleigh was 10 and Kacey was 5, they could both manage daily life skills that kept our house running. Kayleigh learned how to seperate clothes, Kacey was taking out trash and pairing socks....they helped make the house run and function. Now...before you bash anymore or shake your head and say stuff like, "When did they have time to be kids?"....they had more of a social life than I ever had. These skills they were learning didn't take anymore than 30 minutes to do but if they held up their part of the responsibility then I made sure they got their "fun stuff". Kayleigh was in karate for 5 years...played field hockey for 4 years...and moved onto her cake business. Kacey played soccer, teeball, softball and is now in cheer, band and chorus. Not to mention youth group at church for both of them. BUSY. Yes, we stay busy and for a house to function, we ALL do our part. Whew...now all that being said....
When Kacey was diagnosed she was only 8 years old. We've been doing this for 3 1/2 years now. She did shots for 8 months and shes been on her pump for almost 3 years. She did her first finger stick a few days after we came home from the hospital. She did her first shot unassisted only 3 months after coming home. She doesn't remember any life before diabetes. Sad, yes it is but is she sad, no! Diabetes is part of normal daily life for her. The day she came home from the hospital, we had the understanding, "This is life now. There is NO other choice." and thats what we've lived by since then. Just like all the tasks before, she took this on with responsibility and I would NEVER relinquish care to her without feeling 100% certain she could do it. When she first did her shot, she was assisted. She didn't do it until she could figure out her own dose first. She did her shots assisted, with an adult, and then once she was doing them on her own she still had someone checking over her shoulder and making sure every step was done properly. When it came to her dose, counting carbs and bolusing, she still had someone checking over her. In fact, we'd make it a game to see who could figure it out first without messing up. Once she got her pump, things changed even more. She didn't want anyone touching her pump. It was like it was a body part now and it was HERS. Thankfully her pump was figuring up her dose and all she had to do was test her blood sugar and count her carbs correctly and enter them in. By now she was 9 and she was doing Math that the other kids in her class hadn't even done yet. Did I trust her to add her carbs correctly? YOU BET! She was amazing with addition and she'd have them counted before I could turn around for a pen to add them. Before I was done adding, she had already tested her sugar, added her carbs and had the number waiting in her pump for me to say "OK!". And she was ONLY 9 years old.
She is now approaching 12 years old. She's been doing all her basic care (finger sticks, counting carbs and bolusing) for 2 years unassisted. If there is something that she doesn't know the carb count for, she will come ask me, "How many carbs do you think is in this?" and before I open my mouth, shes pushing buttons on her pump and she will have her guess ready....9 times out of 10....shes RIGHT! So now to my question....
How young is too young?
Is she too young to do her own finger sticks? Is she too young to count her carbs correctly? Is she too young to push the buttons on her pump? Is she too young to get her site change stuff ready? Is she too young to draw insulin into her pump cartridge? Is she too young to load the pump with insulin? Is she too young to check her own ketones? Is she too young to treat a low? Is she too young to do any of these things?
Because she's been doing ALL of these. The only thing she can't do yet is change her own pump sites.
I realize children develop at their own pace. Some are ready to do things quicker than others. Its like reading...some do it faster and others need help. Does this make them any better than the other, NO! Absolutely NOT! I don't think my child is any better than any other child out there but I don't feel she is "too young" to learn the life skills she needs to LIVE. One day I may not be around and she will have to make a decision that could save her life. I want her to know how to care for herself if that ever happened and she WANTS to learn these things. It was not forced learning. She learned this on her own!
So yes, my child is almost 12 years old and I don't think she's too young to care for herself. It's like wiping your butt....you teach your kids how to do this when they are able to learn because it's a life skill, right? One day you're not going to be there to wipe their butt and they will have to do it on their own. You have confidence your child will learn this life skill, right? So why wouldn't I give my child the confidence to care for herself?
Ahhhhhh ok, now I feel better :) BTW, this is NOT directed to any of my D-Mommas! This was for those people in my daily life that have asked me recently, "Don't you think shes too young to manage diabetes on her own?"
Oh and did I mention....managing diabetes on her own is NEVER an option....we manage this horrible disease as a family and she cares for herself in a normal environment. Diabetes affects our ENTIRE family!