After the stress of the start of school, I needed a lift. Got a great one when I spoke to Benny's class about diabetes. He's in first grade so most of the children are six years old. They were excited to learn and a lot of fun.
We started by reading Benny's favorite D-book, Jackie's Got Game. It's all about a boy with diabetes who wears a pump and checks his blood sugar, at home, at school, where ever. He wants to make the basketball team, but will a low during try-outs keep him off the squad?!
For us, the very best part of this book is the final team roster. The first name on it is….. Benny!! Unbelievable. (Spoiler alert: Jackie makes the team.)
After the book, I go a little further explaining what diabetes is and why Benny needs insulin. I keep it pretty simple for kids: "Who knows how your body and brain get their energy so you can move and think?" "Who here likes to eat food?"
Then Benny spoke and knocked me out. "Diabetes is awesome," he told his friends. "It makes me special." You know I have never told him that. I do not think diabetes is awesome. However, hearing my six year old be positive and excited about something that really could drag him down is about as awesome as it gets.
He checked his blood sugar in front of the class, just in case they hadn't seen him do it. He showed off his pump and picked two friends to touch it while I used the remote to bolus him, so they could feel it vibrate ("I feel it!!" they shouted.)
Then we opened it up for questions.
#1 "Can Benny eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch?" Yes. I measure it on a special food scale so I know how much insulin he needs.
#2 "Does Benny ever have a low number like the boy in the book?" Yes. When he does, we give him juice or something with sugar in it to help get that number back up. He might not feel very well during that time, so please try to be a good friend and understand Benny might not want to play right at that moment. If Benny ever seems extra sleepy or slow, ask him if he feels okay and tell a grown-up. Thanks!
#3 "Where do they get the insulin that goes into Benny's pump?"Great question! Doctors make it in a special laboratory and we get it at the pharmacy, the same place your parents get your medicine. (I almost started talking about pigs and sharks and bio-synthetics, but I'm glad I stopped myself. Gotta know your audience!)
We chatted for almost 30 minutes and then it was time to go. When I got home Slade was just back from the grocery store. With cereal:
Okay, it's generic Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Still 22 carbs an ounce. Crunch away!!
I love this story. Well done on tackling his class so openly and well done to Benny for being the perfect Supporting Presenter.
I went from kindergarten to university being the kid with diabetes and after a while his friends will just forget about it – apart from when he acts a bit silly and then they’ll just tell a grown-up.
Good luck to Benny for the year ahead!
The nice thing about this age is how excited they are to learn. It’s so fun. 1st graders love everything.
Yeah Stacey! Benny must have loved having you in class. (do the kids know what you do for work or are you just benny’s mum?) I am a kindergarten teacher ( school closed so not teaching right now) always important to educate my students about diabetes and why I might sometime be drinking a juice box or eating something not during snack time. Hope Benny has a great 1st grade year!
I haven’t seen that book, will have to check it out. I think talking to Benny’s classmates is a great idea. I’m amazed at the questions that kids come up with. (Well, I do occasionally get a ” Does her pump work like a phone?” or “Can she play music on it?” 🙂
i love everything about this post. especially how he said it was AWESOME and made him special! 🙂