Sitting in a cafe drinking tea whilst watching my daughters swim, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversations of other mothers, whilst trying my best to stay focused on my latest reading matter. The women on the adjacent table to me, seemingly oblivious to the public setting & having exhausted themselves in a relentless round of “My child is better than yours…”, turned their attentions to some of the other children enjoying the giant inflatable obstacle course in the pool. Idle chit chat suddenly dropped to a level of discretion hitherto unseen that morning. I had to strain hard to hear! This will teach me not to eavesdrop, as they were talking about a child who had things attached to her. What were they? What was wrong with her? Doesn’t it look awful? Such a shame. Such a pretty girl too.
Yes. You’ve guessed it. They were discussing Pumplette & the audacity with which she flaunted her pump & cgm (worn on her arm that day).
I froze. I couldn’t reasonably interject at this point as it would have been abundantly clear that I’d been deploying my hawk hearing. However it did force me to pause & reflect that this is often a common reaction from strangers (or muggles as we know them to be!) toward amazing technology of which they know nought & have not the slightest comprehension how it has utterly transformed this magical little lady’s life.
For Pumplette is unabashed when wearing the technology that helps her make informed decisions on a day to day basis. She forgets that they’re there. She doesn’t hide them, isn’t embarrassed by them, & will patiently explain their function when asked.
But this is the rub. So normal to her is this apparatus that she forgets others see it as alarming or uncomfortable. I love this fact. To me it indicates a healthy, robust mental attitude to her condition & her management of it.
And yet I worry. I worry that because of the repeated actions of these muggles, (strangers, acquaintances & peers), she will learn to be embarrassed by the technology she so loves & embraces.
The herd mentality is embedded in our DNA – acceptance is often an important aspect in human behaviour. Will these whisperers derail my daughter’s show, cause her to doubt her enthusiasm for her kit, and lead her to neglect her health whilst she grows in maturity & understanding? I sincerely hope not. And I will do all in my power to ensure that’s not the case. Because that’s an important part of any parenting – helping your child to recognise how utterly perfect unique is, that the herd is a much better place to be when frequented by individuality. And that that individuality is to be celebrated & not regarded with suspicion & ridicule.
I’m pleased to report, however, there are as yet no signs of her hiding away. Instead she seems to be gaining confidence & swagger in her stride with every passing day.
As it’s almost Halloween, I shall finish with an old picture of Pumplette rocking her pump,(and the entire party’s passes!), dressed for a Spooky Fest in Singapore.
Children can learn so much by the example we set but I find that we can learn so much from their own confidence in themselves and their situation. My 4yo daughter has a large haemangioma on her arm and I am always astonished by the outright pointing and audible gasps when she is out with short sleeves on. “Oh my! What IS that thing??” That ‘thing’ is my kid. I have gained inspiration from her as to wearing my insulin pump and CGM without embarassment, as she turns to gawkers at the park and explains matter-of-factly what is on her arm, then goes on playing. I have also learned through this to keep my own judgement in check.