Maya, my 16 month old daughter, was roaming around my parents’ backyard last weekend. She picked up a leaf and studied it, which was cute, until she stuck out her tongue and tasted it. That was my cue to scoop her up. I noticed the beads of sweat on her little face. The sun was glaring as it does in the summertime. The backyard, the sticky weather, children playing – I was reminded of my childhood. My siblings and I always asked for a pool. But we never got one. We were the sort of family that stayed cool by running through sprinklers and watching TV inside.
I decided that enough was enough. We would get a pool! Immediately! (A kiddie pool.)
My mom and I loaded Maya into the car and headed to Babies R Us. My mom drove and I sat in the backseat so Maya and I could chit chat and play peekaboo. But soon I began to feel sweaty and nauseous. I kept barking at my poor mother to crank up the A/C. It sounded like we were caught in a wind tunnel and still I felt sick. I blamed the heat. My mom said I was acting irrationally. “You sure you’re not low?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure.
I tested and, what do you know: 48.
My mom pulled into a shady parking spot at Babies R Us. I chowed down on glucose tablets. When I felt better, I unstrapped Maya from her car seat and transferred her to the stroller. We walked inside and the intense chill of department store air conditioning felt refreshing on my skin. But soon I began to feel shaky. My blood sugar was dropping again; a persistent low!
My mom pointed out chairs by the registry counter and told me to have a seat. I obeyed. She purchased a jug of Gerber Apple Juice and ran it over to me. Even though I was in Babies R Us with my own child, I felt like a child too.
We sat for twenty minutes while I waited to feel better. Maya rested quietly in her stroller. No one questioned our motley crew. I guess a hypoglycemic woman with diabetes can pass for an overheated pregnant lady who needs a time-out.
Finally we were ready to shop and of course they were sold out of kiddie pools. The store clerk said we could find them at Toys R Us, which was only a 3-minute drive away.
I steered Maya’s stroller back to the car, unstrapped her, picked her up, buckled her into the car seat, collapsed the stroller and threw it in the trunk.
When we arrived in the parking lot of Toys R Us, I was no longer low, but my energy was sapped. I couldn’t be bothered to take Maya’s stroller out of the trunk. I decided that it would be easier to carry her.
Inside, we found a kiddie pool right away. Mission accomplished.
But Maya made it clear that it was not yet time to leave. She began to feel heavy in my arms. I didn’t want to seat her in a shopping cart because I didn’t bring my shopping cart cover and I am a bit of a germaphobe.
I set her down on the floor, held her hand, and let her walk around.
All was fine until Maya met a mysterious looking stuffed toy. She shouted “ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!” She engaged in the classic toddler point, which is firm and direct, and means THAT WILL BE MINE.
The all-pink toy looked like something you’d find at a carnival… in 1993. Was it a ball? A cat? No one could know for certain.
(For the purposes of this blog post, I will now refer to it as the Pink Thing.)
I lifted the Pink Thing off the shelf and set it down on the floor next to Maya. It was bigger than her, but she managed to lift it. And hug it. And snuggle it. And bounce on it. And walk up and down the aisle with it. She had a grand time. Then I told Maya it was time to leave. I placed the Pink Thing back on the shelf and tried to usher her away.
She was not about to leave this treasure. She pointed again and began to cry – a loud, hysterical cry that makes you feel like you’ve done something horribly wrong. I picked her up and tried to console her. That’s when she started kicking and screaming like they do in the movies, which was fitting because we had an audience.
I didn’t know what to do because this was the first time Maya had ever had a tantrum. In order to calm her, I allowed her to carry the Pink Thing to the register. I wondered about its price because it didn’t have a tag. My mom managed to wriggle it away from her and hand it to the cashier. Maya watched him suspiciously.
We learned that the Pink Thing was on clearance. It cost under $4. A modest price given its size and unique appearance.
We made our purchase: a kiddie pool and the Pink Thing. Maya proudly carried it to the car.
On the ride home, Maya held her furry pink friend close while I made sure that she didn’t smother herself. I watched the trees whiz by and thought about the heavy feeling on my eyelids. I tested and I was high. A twisted consequence of low blood sugar.
I realized that our trip to buy a kiddie pool was no longer about the pool at all. It had morphed into an adventure full of exhausting surprises. First the sneaky low blood sugar – with a shocking twist – a relapse! And then Maya’s toy store drama.
I learned that diabetes and children have a lot in common:
They don’t always behave.
They don’t always do what you want them to do.
They can be controlled and they can control you.
They are delicate and they are powerful.
They are predictable and they are surprising.
Of course, big differences exist. Like, when diabetes is difficult, we hate it even more. But when children are difficult, we love them even more. If only diabetes knew how to be cuddly and cute, maybe it would have a better reputation.