Parenting lessons come at us in many ways.
Some lessons are from friends or colleagues who have ‘been there, done that’.
Some lessons are overt as with our own mothers or mother-in-laws that come to help with a new baby, especially the first baby.
Some parenting lessons are learned by observing or experiencing ‘bad parenting’ and consciously choosing NOT to be that parent.
There is an endless supply of books on parenting – most of those I was given or purchased have never been opened.
Then there are the social media posts, often inspirational quotes with adorable pictures of toddlers with muddy hands or faces full of food, or the posts that talk about how a piece of paper crumpled and then unfolded will never be the same thus be careful with words. I think there were also a few commercials some time ago that depicted young kids picking up the same “bad” habits (cell phone use, smoking, drinking, etc) by watching their parents.
My favorite (read ‘most humbling’) way to receive parenting advice is from my own child.
My middle child – who I often refer to as Middles, is 13 now. He is in the 8th grade. He is taller than me now, his voice is getting deeper and he has just a bit of peach fuzz on his upper lip. He is clever and funny and kind and I love him for exactly who he is, even on the days I want to throttle him.
Middles has had diabetes the least amount of time between my kids. He just past his two-year diaversary on August 1st.
Being diagnosed with diabetes is never easy and every person (kid or adult) handles the diagnosis differently and also manages their diabetes differently. Some with more zest than others. Even then, ones diabetes management often has an ebb and flow due to diabetes burnout, life circumstances and for those diagnosed before the age 12 – puberty.
In my experience my Middles has had the hardest time with diabetes. My youngest (Sugarboy) was diagnosed at age 2 so he really doesn’t know a life without diabetes. My oldest (Sweetstuff) was diagnosed at age 9, and while she remembers life before diabetes she was young enough to develop a routine and habits before puberty hit. Middles diagnosed at age 11 clearly remembers life before diabetes and didn’t have enough time before puberty caused his front lobe to take a sabbatical. (IMHO)
All my kids have off days when they forget to check blood sugars or bolus for lunch or a random snack but Middles forgets most often. There were school days toward the end of the school year last year in which he went a couple of weeks without a single blood sugar check during the school hours. Now before you are tempted to judge my D parenting skills and wonder how I could let a couple of weeks go by without verifying or downloading (giggle) meters let me say I put a lot of trust in my kids and the majority of the time I am not disappointed so I don’t act like the diabetes police 24/7. Instead I do random checks on their meters – the randomness of the checks typically keeps them on their toes while allowing us to put diabetes in the corner and focus on the really important stuff like how my boys can’t seem to get their aim just right in their bathroom.
So going back to the couple of weeks of no checks…
Once I discovered the discrepancies, discussed the discrepancies with Middles and provided time for my son to get his act together I did another check. Imagine my surprise when there were few to no checks. That earned Middles the privilege of checking his blood sugar in the health office 3x a day for the last few weeks of school. He was not pleased but knew in advance what the consequences would be if he didn’t pull it together. School ended and we moved on.
Before the start of this school year we discussed how he would return to independence but chronic forgetfulness would land him in the health office 3x a day again.
Alas, I checked his meter last night. No checks for the last 7 school days. Bugger.
Now I should have likely waited a bit before discussing the issue with my dear teenage front lobe deficient son. I was a bit worked up, not just for the lack of blood sugar checks but for a few non-D related issues with him. I didn’t wait. I called him downstairs and with very little planning laid into him in a manner reminiscent of Tom Cruise (Lt. Kaffee) cross-examining Jack Nickolson (Col. Jessep) in the final court scene of A Few Good Men. (Shared below for those under the age 40 who may not have seen it. Pretty sure my face looked just like Tom’s in the still shot below).
Middles reacted just as one would expect – (re-watch if needed with Col. Jessep playing the role of Middles)
It wasn’t pretty.
Me: yell, yell, accuse, yell, threaten, etc.
Middles: yell, yell, deny, accuse meter of being faulty, yell, yell
Me: more yelling, more accusations, more threats.
Me: (ignoring what I saw as deflecting behavior) “Empty the dishwasher please.”
Middles: (slamming cabinets as he puts away dishes) “You know mom, you could have just been nice.”
Me: “What? What do you mean?”
Middles: (In a voice that was supposed to be mine) “Honey. I noticed you haven’t been checking your blood sugars. Is everything ok at school? I worry about you. Is there someway I could help you remember to check”
Me: (I had nothing. I just stood there with my jaw on the floor. I knew he was right and I knew I was just schooled by my 13 year old) finally I said “You’re right. I could have handled this better. I shouldn’t have yelled. What can I do? How can I help you?”
Middles: (because I wasn’t humbled enough) “Well, you could hug me more”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how your own children give you parenting advice.