When Your Non-diabetic Son Wants to be a Diabetic for Halloween
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry … literally. While discussing Halloween costumes this year my oldest son, who does not have T1D, quickly said that next year he was going to be a diabetic. To keep from tears, I laughed and said why would you want that? He thought it would be fun to wear the fake pump and a fake Dexcom and pretend to be a T1D for a day.
- The part of me that wanted to cry was positive this was a call for attention. It’s hard on siblings of T1D when a bunch of everyone’s time and attention goes to one child due to a medical condition. And while my husband and I try to watch ourselves and support our nondiabetic son too, I’m sure we are not always in balance with that.
- But I laughed because I didn’t want my T1D son to see my reaction to his brother’s Halloween request, because he was living the reality. And quite honestly, my older son being diagnosed is a fear that creeps up for me every so often. And I’m striving to keep life light and positive in our household as often as I can. T1D can be a drag!
My oldest son’s request highlighted an important issue to keep in mind while caring for a child with T1D. I think the T1D diagnosis of a brother or sister is extremely hard on siblings. They need extra special care and support. They are dealing with some of the same fears that parents are – “What does this disease mean for the health of my little brother?” and some uniquely childlike fears such as “Can I catch it from him?” and “Will my parents still love me as much?” So finding ways to make room and time for the siblings will be a huge part of keeping your family healthy and whole after a T1D diagnosis.
Your non-T1D kids need special time with just you, sometimes away from their T1D sibling. They need time to grieve and talk about the diagnosis because kids grieve for their siblings after diagnosis too. My son needed permission and room to cry for his little brother. He needed to bring his brother and his diabetes to his 2nd grade classroom for show and tell because he loves his brother and because he needs his friends to see what life is like for him now. And he needed to learn how to take care of his brother at a level that was appropriate to him (at 8 years old) because he desperately wanted to do something with his emotions and the situation and help his little brother. So, we taught him about T1D, about carbs, about carb counting, about checking blood sugars, his brother’s Dexcom, his pump and more. No, he’s not caring for his brother (he’s not old enough yet), but he feels a part of it, feels he is doing something to help, and one day I’m positive he’ll be old enough to be a support and lifelong help to his brother. For now, he walks him to class, picks him up after class, and helps remind our T1D Kindergartener not to forget any of his T1D stuff in the classroom after school. He watches out for him the way any big brother would … just a little more now.
For our son’s 1st diaversary coming up in a few weeks, we told his big brother that this year was hard on him too and we wanted to find a special time to celebrate with just him and in his own way, and thank him for helping take such good care of his little brother and for learning so much about diabetes. His eyes lit up, he’s busy thinking of what we are going to do, and I’m positive no matter what he chooses he’ll appreciate some time and attention on just him, and hopefully he’ll forget he wants to be a diabetic next Halloween! Imagine trying to explain that costume. Ha!