Sunday, August 5, 2012

Apricot Advocacy

It's almost time for Back to School.  I love summer, and I love school.

What I don't love is going BACK to school.

For parents of children with diabetes, going back to school means advocating...which at its core is a really amazing thing.  

On the surface though, it is a super delicate thing at best. 

Kind of like an apricot.

In our hearts we have all the right intentions.  We want our children to go to school with a plan in place.  With safety measures signed off on, and with a staff that is trained to keep a watchful eye on our little ones. 

We want our kids to be safe.  Sounds like a completely admirable goal...right?

Sounds hard and true...just like an apricot pit. 

But when we go into the office and speak with the administrators our resolve becomes a delicate thing.  We have to handle it all very gently or else we will bruise and discolor the apricot flesh of our advocacy.

We don't want to be viewed as vigilantes.

We don't' want to be seen as trouble makers.

We don't want to be perceived to be tiger parents.

Because once those perceptions start getting thrown around...we aren't getting anywhere.

There is nothing worse than having the school administration on the defensive.

The hardest part for me personally is feeling as though I am being judged as a pancreas by people who were taught what diabetes is by Wilford Brimely and Doctor Oz.  I'm coming in there giving them an entire new perspective on what Type 1 Diabetes really entails.  I'm telling them things they never dreamed of.  And at the end of the day I wonder if they think I'm nuts.

The people at the school have only ever seen magazine pictures with the number 103 on it.  They think a 300 is neglect.  They think constant lows after recess is bad pancreating on my part.  Or do they?  Even though I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job, I get all kinds of vulnerable and self conscious when school starts.  They might not even think those things at all!  They have a ton of other things to think about anyway...their jobs are already hard as it is without my family in the picture!

My biggest problem is my perceptions of how people at school perceive me.  (That's a real sentence, right?)  I've so many times wanted our endo to call up the school or teacher and say, "You know what...Meri is a dang good pancreas.  The back to school yo yo is not her fault.  She'll figure it out in a few weeks...cut her some slack."

I am so hard on myself when the kids go back to school.  We don't have a nurse, so often the littles' teachers want to know where their blood sugars are at so they can know how to help them.  And when they call me all kinds of shocked that there is a 225 staring back at's hard not to feel judged.

I am fully aware it is all about educating...over and over and over again.  Eventually they all get it.  Eventually they come to see what Type 1 Diabetes is really all about.

It's just the beginning of forging new relationships and teaching them the isn't easy.

I have my binders.

I have my 504's.

I have my boxes full of supplies and fast acting sugar.

What I don't have is the magic button that lets everyone see what I see.

I see four boys, three with T1, that at THIS time, and at THIS moment mean more to me than they ever have.  More than all the riches of the world and all the castles in heaven.   How do I love them MORE every day?  I love them so much today, it seems impossible!

I see three T1 Boys that are amazing in a million different ways.  They are more responsible and in tune to their health than anyone else I know.   Amazing boys who just want to fit in and do everything everyone else does.  Amazing boys who always TRY their best when it comes to diabetes.

I see a mother that tries her very best to keep their numbers as even as insulin-ly possible.  A mother whose heart aches with every high and every low.  

I see a family that needs an easy back to school...and I'm bawling like a baby thinking about it.

It's hard to hold a delicate, very ripened apricot in your hand while crying.  It's so easy to bruise.  Emotions can take over and make a mess of everything.

Squished apricot...not cool.

I know that we will survive.  I know that we can do this.  I know that most of the success hinges on keeping my emotions in check and not guessing what others are thinking of me.

I know back to school is a necessary evil. 

But with the possibility of my littles having teachers we never had before, and  J starting High School as a Freshman...

I just wish I was holding an apple, and not an apricot.


  1. I HATE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!! FOR SERIOUS!! I swear my stomach turns to knots and my mood mimics something in the likeliness of PMS. Justin moves to middle school this year. Whole new ball game away from the awesome nurse we have had for the past 4 years. For me.. The unknown is my biggest fear.

  2. I'm sure you're doing a great job at teaching about D, especially to those "educators" who don't want to learn it. My mother used to give me a form-letter that she got from a magazine (with blanks filled in) and instructed me to give copies to the school nurse and to my teachers. If she did anything else behind-the-scenes, I didn't see it.

    Just remember the ones who really DO care. One of my earliest memories with D, probably a month or so after diagnosis, was a teacher cradling me in her arms and running from the playground to the school. It was over 30 years ago, but I remember it well. I'd love to find her now so that I could tell her that I remember her... and to say Thank You.

    1. Agreed Scott! Last year my boys had PHENOMENAL teachers, who were an amazing support! But they had to be "broken in" so to speak. Not by any fault of their own...diabetes is a hard nut to crack!

      I wish you could find that teacher. I bet a little love would mean the world to her!

  3. Im a back to school squished apricot, perfectly said Meri! You would think the back to school season would get easier with years behind us....wouldnt that be nice!!?? I too, often (ALWAYS!) worry about what "judgements" are being passed about me as a parent/pancreas when school starts EVERY SINGLE YEAR. *sigh* If only the realities of D were known, it would make this SO much easier! I hope this turns out to be a smooth back to school time for you ALL!! ((HUGS))

  4. Great post!!

    I am so feeling like I got this..but then I know there's so much that can happen at the meeting or during the first few weeks with the yoyo

    New school and I am worried.

    Thank you for expressing it all!!

  5. thanks for this. I'm going to try to be more apple. I feel like an apricot that's been stepped on. we start with a new school nurse this fall. deep breath. apple.

  6. Thank you for this! This is our first back to school season as Charlo was diagnosed in March and honestly, I'm nervous. Yes we had a few months under our belt when school let out, but now we'll have new teachers (fourth grade) to educate and new hurdles clear. They don't seem to stop with T1D and I'm exhausted emotionally. It doesn't help that our principal dismissed my desire to to implement at 504 by saying that we didn't need one and parents misunderstand how they are used. Why can nothing be simple with T1D? Oh well, I'll push through and try to be patient for my daughter's sake and that of our family. One step at a time. Like Katy, deep breath.

  7. Same same! Thanks for giving all my emotions words!

  8. Yes. The day after tomorrow. Yes.



    It's all I can say, because if I think too much more, I'll become a mess of tears and squished apricots are sticky.


    We can do this.

  9. I would love to see what goes into your binders! Haden was diagnoised at the very end of the last school years, so this is my first time to get ready to send him off.

  10. how do I keep missing your awesome post? Something is slow with my blog...I just am thankful that Isaac is still staying here with moi, terrible, no? I am so not ready to send him out for that many hours, but am thankful to know that when it is his time to go to Kinder that many have gone before us and have to much to teach us. Thank you Meri for reminding us about back to school with our littles and all the extra tender care it takes for t1 parents, makes me want to call all my friends here locally with school age t1's and see how I can help.
    Have a lovely Friday :)

  11. I'm so sorry you do not have school nurses. We do and have still felt the apricot syndrome with new teachers and new administrations. We moved last year and I have kept my kids at their old school so we don't have to start fresh in a place where I don't know the system and try to develop a mode of communication with all new people.


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