"At camp, there was a zip line and your butt hit the water when you went over the lake!"
That's our 7-year-old just home from one week at diabetes camp. It was Benny's first extended time away from us. I wasn't concerned about his safety, this is an American Diabetes Association program with docs, nurses and trained staff. I was worried he'd miss home (and, okay, that I'd miss him).
We dropped him off on Sunday. I held out until Tuesday. I know several people there, so I put out a couple of messages over Facebook and by text. Our diabetes educator made it clear Benny was having a great time, and I made it clear I wouldn’t text again.
"At camp, there was a giant banana slide and a big pool!"
I had modest hopes for Benny’s time at camp. Make new friends, learn more about diabetes and maybe change his own inset once. The staff works hard to meet the family's goals, but I had my doubts about that one. Wouldn't you know, they actually got him to try it.
The counselors talk about Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) quite a bit. Benny got high marks for his and came home doing cheers and songs about it. He was also really proud of being the boy in his cabin who had diabetes the longest – 5 years (yay?).
"At camp, I was the loudest when we cheered at the rally. We won because of me."
(I believe this. Dude had no voice when we picked him up!)
Now that Benny is home, he's looking at labels and asking about what's on his plate. We're pushing him to continue checking his own blood sugar and using the pump independently all the time. He’s done this at school for the past two years (and even his last year in preschool) but we've let him lean on us at home.
He changed his own insulin cartridge today and tonight we put in the new inset without numbing cream “because that’s what I did at camp.” If you’ve read this blog, you know the inset is one of our biggest challenges. It's hard to explain how much progress this is; I had to turn away because I had tears in my eyes.
Here's what else I love. Benny's favorite memories of this past week have nothing to do with diabetes. It's the zip line, the slide, the pool and his new friends. Yes, of course he knows why he went to that camp. He knows he shoulders more responsibility than his "regular" 7-year-old friends at home. But now he knows there's a place where he doesn't have to think about being "different." Because at camp, he isn't.
"Mom, don't take this wrong, but sometimes I like camp better than home. I wish the future was here today and I was already back."