My daughter has started playing “hospital.” Lea is 5 and at bedtime lately, she wants to pretend she’s been treated for a mysterious illness. It’s always something that requires an overnight stay (but never a shot!).
It’s easy to see much of this comes from the 3 days back in December when our son, Benny, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Slade and I took turns spending nights with him at Carolinas Medical Center.
I’ve been so impressed with how well Lea has handled our new routines, but I’m sort of waiting for the backlash. We’ve always monitored out kids’ diets pretty closely – I never kept chips or juice around. Now, though, we’ve gone from eating almost whatever we want, whenever we want, to measuring and counting every single thing Benny eats and restricting even more when we have “treaty” snacks like fruit roll ups and cookies.
Since we count carbs for Benny, for a while were even afraid to give him fruit. We’ve come to our senses, thank goodness. How can you teach a 2-year old that an apple or a banana is a treat to be restricted along with chocolate or sweets? Benny has decided that cantaloupe is his favorite right now (only 2 carbs per ounce! whoo–hoo!). I’m trying to get him to call it “lope.” He calls it “soup.”
But, see, even here when I started out talking about Lea, I came right back to Benny. And that’s what worries me. I think we have to acknowledge and accept that he will get more of our attention, but also convey to her that she has our undivided support and of, course, our unconditional love.
The New York Times has an interesting article this week about children affected by their sibling’s experience with illness. I’m struck by the support these kids, including mine, give their brothers and sisters.
Lea loves to help out. She helps us take Benny’s blood sugar and draw up his insulin. She doesn’t understand why I won’t let her give her brother the actual shot, though. And she’s very good at letting us know if Benny eats something when we’re not looking!
I know it’s important to reinforce the idea that our family is a team in dealing with this. So I was excited to hear about Charlotte Parent’s Art Contest. They’re asking kids to submit a piece of artwork to be considered for the art collection at the new Levine Children’s Hospital. It’s open to kids ages 5 through 18 and there are a few rules you have to follow. Click here for more information.
I’m going to tell Lea about it this weekend. She loves to draw and I think it’ll be a fun way for her to express her feelings about the hospital. It also seems like a nice way to send sort of a thank you to the wonderful people who gave Benny such great care.