For a long time, he called it "beetees" and he knew that beetees hurt his Sissy, and that we don't like beetees, and that when you have beetees, you have to go to the doctor more times, get more shots, give more blood, and a whole lot of other scary things.
Over time, and after hearing us openly discuss the importance of Maddie's blood sugar, insulin, food, pump, exercise, and overall health, he's come to understand a little bit more about it....well, as much as a 5, almost 6 year old without diabetes can understand.....or so I thought.
They play a lot together at home, so he has learned to be patient when it comes to waiting for her to check her blood, or waiting for her to give herself her insulin, or waiting while she gets her site changed. He just knows that it's something that she has to do, and she can resume playing as soon as she's through with whatever it is that she needs to do.
Today, we were riding in the car, and as usual, we were in a rush. And as any other frazzled mom would do, I drove through the McDonald's drive thru to feed my kids their lunch. There is one very important thing here that I need to state in my defense. Upon eating the entire contents of a happy meal, although nutritionally it's horrible for her to eat, I know the exact number of carbs she's putting into her body.
**For the record, I prefer Chick-Fil-A, but unfortunately, it's not on my way home.
Yes, I know that it is not real chicken, and everything is fried, and that essentially it's total crap, but nonetheless, I know the exact number of carbs that she's eating.
As we drove, she and I went through the whole song and dance, which goes a little something like this:
"Maddie, did you check your blood?"
"What were you?"
"Did you eat all your nuggets?"
"Did you eat all your fries?"
"Even the ones in the bottom of the box?"
Then I tell her to give herself insulin for the correct number of carbs, according to the nutritional labels inside McDonald's, on the Happy Meal box, and on my nifty little iPhone app, in which I know ALL nutritional information of a bazillion food items at a bazillion different restaurants all over the USA. And fortunately, it's correct every time. She's never high afterward.....usually.....
Anyhoo, my point to all of this is that after hearing us discuss this over and over, and after hearing us talk about diabetes at home, at church, at school, and after many explanations, I assumed that her brothers (to an extent) were as familiar with this disease as we are, in an age appropriate way, of course. Honestly, I guess I had never thought about what they thought diabetes was, or how it "happened".
The car was quiet, everyone was finishing up their fries and ready to tear open the almost-unopenable toy with their teeth, and I hear a little voice in the back of the car. It was that of my sweet Reilly, my middle child, my almost-kindergartner, my rough and tough soccer player, and my one who gives some of the best kisses.
"I know you love Maddie, and I know you take good care of her, but could you PLEASE not give me beetees when I'm a big kid like her?"
All of a sudden, I realized that he knew NOTHING about diabetes. Somehow, he thought that Shawn and I had "made" or "let" Maddie have diabetes. He thought that we had given permission for this to happen to her, and that we may decide to let him or his brother have it, too.
My heart broke into a thousand little pieces. I don't even remember the drive home. I didn't know what to say, or how to respond. How could he think that I had control over this, and how could he think that I let Maddie have it? Why would he think that? Why would he think that I would do that to him?
After I gathered the pieces of myself that had been scattered by the words of a 5 year old, I thought about my response for just a minute.
"Reilly--Daddy and I didn't make Sissy get diabetes, and if I had been given a choice, I would NEVER have let her get it. If I could, I would give anything in the world for her to NOT have it. We wouldn't do that to any of our babies--you know that! For some reason, God has allowed her to have diabetes, but it's okay, because we know that He is in control of it. We don't know why now, and we'll never know why she has it. But we are going to trust Him, and take good care of her so she stays healthy. I don't think God wants you to have diabetes, although if He does someday, we'll know just how to take care of you. But you know that no matter what, God is going to take care of all of us."
He didn't respond to my reply, and Maddie didn't chime in either. Brendan, who is almost 3 and doesn't have much to say about anything, was also silent. We drove the rest of the way home without a word.
I don't think Reilly was asking me that so that he could be selfishly assured that he was in the clear. I don't even think that he even cared about my long and drawn out answer to his question. Actually, I don't think anyone was even listening to what I was saying. Unfortunately for me, that happens often in my family.
I, however, was listening to the words that were coming out of my mouth. I don't even think that they came from MY blond head. I think it was just God's way of reminding me (yet again) that, not me, but He is in control of everything.