Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A lesson in empathy

Last week my girls were off of school for Mardi Gras break. Despite the challenges of balancing a full-time work from home job and taking care of both girls we had a lot of fun...and the week brought a few very special moments!

Charlotte's little sister, Amelia, is an amazing little girl! She has a BIG heart and is definitely the most loving and compassionate 4 year old I've ever known! Don't get me wrong she's definitely had her share of meltdowns and temper tantrums...several of which have been real doozies! But Amelia has also had to deal with more than most little girls her age...she's never known a life without diabetes in it; Charlotte was diagnosed just 11 months before she was born.

Amelia's vocabulary already includes words like diabetes, ketones, glucose, and insulin. And watching her play with her baby dolls is very different than watching her classmates doing the same...her version includes things like blood sugar checks and pump site changes. And her artwork even includes elements of diabetes...

Amelia's portrait of Charlotte and her "diabetes stuff" 
(meter with test strip, pump, juice box, and supply bag)
Amelia looks up to her big sister, Charlotte, so much and wants to be JUST like her! On a few occasions over the past few months she's grabbed one of Charlotte's pump pouches and has insisted on wearing it. Well, last week that wasn't enough...she wanted a pump too. Charlotte was pretty excited about this and made her "a pump" to put in the pouch...and I took this opportunity to provide a lesson in empathy. All day Amelia proudly wore one of Charlotte's Too Sweet pump pouches and her new "pump" complete with "tubing" (made from curly ribbon) secured with a Groovy Patch. I also grabbed one of Charlotte's old meters for her to "check her sugar" throughout the day each time Charlotte checked.

It was quite an experience for Amelia...and I think she learned a lot (at a 4 year old level). Her "pump tubing" did get caught on things and got pulled out several she quickly got tired of it and took it off after a few hours. But she remained faithful and wore her "pump" and carried her meter for the entire day. I used that opportunity to explain to her how it might be fun for her to "play diabetes" and be just like her big sis, but that Charlotte can't just take off her pump and tubing whenever she feels like it and it isn't really fun for sissy. I think it was a good lesson for her ...and I know Charlotte really enjoyed having another T1'er in the house for the day.
Even at such a young age, Amelia is a great advocate for her big sister. She's always wanting to help out with JDRF walk stuff or our lemonade stand (which we do in conjunction with our Town Garage sale to raise money and awareness for T1)...and she enjoys wearing her Walk team t-shirts and talking about what she knows about diabetes. I'm not sure that Charlotte fully realizes it, but I see Amelia becoming Charlotte's biggest cheerleader!

I have great relationships with both of my sisters (I'm the middle of 3 girls). So I was thrilled when Amelia was born and knew that Charlotte would have a sister to share things with the way I have with mine. Only I had no idea then how T1 would influence and strengthen their bond as sisters!

Both Charlotte and Amelia are truly amazing and special little girls. I am truly blessed to have them both in my life and be a witness to such pure sisterly love!


  1. Tears. Amelia seems like such a strong supporter of Charlotte's. She reminds me of my Bridget. Bridget is very sensitive and very in tune to "D" stuff and advocating for better care and a cure. Great...heart-warming post!!!

  2. ahhh, what beautiful girls you have both inside and out. I love the way you talk to her about the reality of it at her level. My oldest is very into being a part of the d gang around here, but he draws the line at anything about pumping as he's seen the needle and wants nothing to do with it! However, he does check his BG often and freaks me out when he forgets to wash his hands first!
    Thanks for sharing this cute moment of true empathy with us.

  3. Such a sweet post! I never had a sister growing up, but I've always been close to my older brothers so it's nice to see when siblings are close and support each other. I have 2 awesome sister-in-laws and I now see what I was missing out on! (p.s. you will probably see this on my blog, but I don't mind you sharing my post--feel free!)

  4. what a beautiful post! im a bit teary now ...

  5. What a beautiful post...and such sweet loving hearts. Special. Genuinely special.

  6. Thank you for sharing such an amazing post about your beautiful girls!

    The blogger basal will post tomorrow with this link included. :)