This is the first week of my daughter’s summer music program. She’ll be at our town’s high school five mornings a week, beginning to learn the clarinet. The program is run by a couple of our town’s music teachers. Kids receive a daily group instrument lesson, sing in a chorus, and take a music theory class. As they get older, they can also participate in band, jazz band, and a musical theater production.
My daughter began participating in the program last summer. She had started piano lessons during the school year, and was developing a real interest in music. It seemed only logical to give her this opportunity to immerse herself in music for the first month of her summer. She loved every minute of it, as I’m sure she will this year too.
Here’s the thing: summer music doesn’t have a nurse, or anyone who acts as a nurse. They probably have a stash of band-aids somewhere, but that’s where any interest in medicine ends. So it was with a pit in my stomach that I made the decision to send my child with diabetes to this program last summer.
The first day she went last year, I packed her up with a cell phone, meter, juice box, diabetes bracelet, and a note in her backpack with every contact number I could think of. I walked her in the door, and spoke with the hall monitors. I’d already made sure the director was aware and would tell her teachers. I gave her a kiss, said goodbye, took a deep breath, said a prayer, and went home. For two of the longest hours I’ve ever spent.
The story has a happy ending. When I returned, she was alive, upright, and happy. The rest of the weeks went the same way. She checked her blood sugar as needed, and called me if it was off. She called me more, however, because she’d forgotten things and wanted me to bring them to her.
When she was diagnosed with diabetes at 13 months, my daughter was helpless. She needed an educated adult with her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It seemed for many years that this would always be so. It is with relief, and pride, that I continue to watch her grow into a responsible child. I realize that not all 9 year olds are capable of taking on this kind of responsibility, nor should they have to be.
The decision to send her last year was a difficult one. There was certainly less of a safety net for the many diabetes “what-if’s” racing through my mind. On the other hand, I knew I would be only a few blocks away. I knew she took on these responsibilities well at friends’ houses. I knew that an extreme diabetes emergency was extraordinarily unlikely. Most importantly, I knew that she really wanted to live and breathe music for a couple of hours a day in July. So the answer had to be “yes.”
Each of these steps towards diabetes independence results in a few more grey hairs. It's funny to compare how worried I was the first time she participated in this program to how I felt this morning sending her off with her meter and a snack. Each year brings new situations she must handle independently. I hope she continues to approach them with the same level of responsibility. Meanwhile, any recommendations for my greying hair will be welcomed.