He’s just a kid

I’m sitting at the kitchen table after dinner with Caleb beside me finishing his homework.  While he’s working, I scan the computer and come across a video about a young boy living with diabetes.  He is younger than Caleb and there are pictures of lancets and needles and of this boy as a baby and a toddler, smiling and enjoying life and being cute, and clearly living with diabetes.

I realize that Caleb is crying.

I look at him and he says, “I’m not crying about my homework.”  I didn’t realize he was looking over my shoulder. “I’m sad because that boy has diabetes and he’s just a kid.”

“He’s just a kid”?

But Caleb himself is just a kid.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Caleb does not complain about anything he has to do because he lives with diabetes. There may be the occasional hem when we need to change a Pod, or a haw, when I ask him to check his sugar.  But these hems and haws are no different than his reactions to having to make his bed or put away his laundry.

Even when asked what he thinks about living with diabetes, he is relatively indifferent. It’s typically a “good”, “whatever”, “it doesn’t matter” response.  He’s got bigger things to worry about.

To see and hear him get upset at seeing a young child going through everything he goes through, things that never seem to phase him when he does them, left me speechless.

I took him on my lap and hugged him. I had many thoughts and emotions running through me, but no words. We both had tears. That seemed to say it all.

29 Replies to “He’s just a kid”

  1. Caleb amazes me all the time! He is such a wonderful little boy. For him to have so much compassion for another child when he, himself, is just a child is amazing.

    I swear Lorraine if that would have been Tristan saying that I would have been crying like a baby!

    1. My son Bill has had diabetes his whole life. He was dx’d when he was 22 months old. Bill has always had a soft spot for the “underdog”. I do think kids that have to deal with their own condition do feel something more for others. Billy is 17 now and don’t get me wrong, he is a typical teen, but just a little sweeter at times than most.

  2. Now I’m crying too. It’s a wonderful thing to see the empathy Caleb has at such a young age. Michael has it too. Diabetes ages them too quickly it seems. It’s a good thing, though, when you see it through that lens.


  3. Great story. Kaylie amazes me also with her strong will. Even though we’re the parents, it seems that they have a lot to teach us. We usually get a little resistance when it comes to changing her CGM sensor, but other then that she seems to just except this as part of her life. Doesn’t really pay mind to what she’s going through, but at the same time stays involved in managing her own diabetes (with help from us, of course). The will and strength of children is amazing.

  4. *tearing up now*
    This brought back memories of when I first heard about you and Caleb. I had the same thought. “Oh my gosh, he’s just a little boy!” But I had to remind myself that I was “just a little girl” when I was diagnosed. Diabetes is a crappy disease, and we absolutely hate to hear when other children are diagnosed because we know what they’re about to go through as they grow up. We just have to take each day as it comes.

  5. I am in tears. Give him a ninja hug from me and let him know never to stop being compassionate. It is a gift to have a heart that feels for others.

  6. Wow! Caleb is an amazing kid. I can’t wait to meet the both of you. Hugs Caleb:) I cry for young children all the time with diabetes.

  7. You’re doing something right with that little guy.

    Sometimes it’s so easy to forget how young they are when they have so much responsibility and so many burdens to carry around. They have to grow up so fast.

    What a sweet, compassionate little man.

  8. ohhh!! i wanna hug you guys! that is the sweetest thing! oh Caleb…what a guy you are. you are so so grown up!!

  9. I see this differently. Caleb is crying for the little boy but mostly for himself. Kids and adults sometimes deal with difficulties by aknowledging only emotions they can handle and/or won’t cause too much disstress to their loved ones, others are kept well hid. However we see a film or something and these emotions surface most of the times surprising even ourselves. The hug was the best thing to do!

  10. Thank you everyone. I shared your comments with Caleb. I think it warmed his heart judging from the smile on his face.

    I wondered as well about the true reason for his tears; thus my inability to articulate my thoughts to him. He and I talked about it today and I’m glad we did. Caleb is not sad for himself. I see it in his face. He talks unflinchingly about his own diabetes. As soon as I mentioned the boy, he started to quiver and tear up.

    I’m thankful that he and I had the opportunity to talk about it. I expect there will be many conversations like this in the years to come. I hope that by keeping the conversation going, Caleb will feel he has an outlet for any emotions he has and we can work through it together. Time will tell.

  11. What a wonderfully mature and empathetic response. You must be so proud of your relationship with Caleb and his ability to share these feelings with you.

  12. I’m a little behind, I just now had enough time to read this. It’s such a powerful post.

    It reminds me of a time when I was about 5 or so. My mom asked me what my favorite thing was about the river (the place were we go boating in the summer) and I said, “All the food Grandma has up there!” Then she said, “But you can’t eat all of the food?” (Remember, we were using exchanges, NPH and R at this time.) And I said, “No, I like seeing everybody else get to eat it. It’s so fun for them!”

    Looking back on it now I can’t believe that at five years old I said something like that. I really didn’t care that I couldn’t have it. I knew I couldn’t and I was OK with that.

    Caleb is amazing. You are amazing. Thank you for sharing this story.

    1. Thank you Kay. Your story is another example of why this leaves me speechless. It breaks my heart that you, as children, HAVE to make these adjustments.

      I am proud of Caleb, and all the children that live with diabetes, for how they accept and adapt so well. I am saddened though that they have to. Diabetes is very humbling.

      I am touched by all the responses to this post. It is clear that you all very much understand. What I couldn’t put into words, I did not have to.

  13. Caleb continues to amaze me with this strength and compassion! He is a great role-model – for those younger than him as well as for those of us a little (cough cough) older!

  14. what an amazing little man you have there. I surely hope that he and Nate get to meet one day. They are so brave!

  15. Hi Lorraine,

    I wanted to stop by and thank you for commenting on my blog, I have had such a difficult time dealing with both of my daughters being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I hope that blogging will allow me the opportunity to meet many others who understand the struggle that my family is going through. I can tell you already that I have definately felt the love from everyone in the diabetes community already! I have been welcomed with wide open arms and it is heartwarming.

    Reading about your son and his compassion for that little boy made me want to cry, my daughters are 2 and 4 years old and at times I feel that they were never given a chance to just be kids…I have been grieving over that for some time. They were 18 months old and 2 years old at the time of their diagnosis. Your son sounds like he has a heart of gold, you are lucky to have such a sweet boy!

  16. Hi Lorraine!

    Good to “meet” you and thanks for the comments on Beta Buddies. May I add you to my blogroll?

    Caleb sounds like a remarkable guy! Such a sweet story…and a beautiful child. These kids amaze me, they grow up before there time, they are empathetic, they are smart, and they are TOUGHER than anyone I know.

    1. Thanks Reyna! Yes of course – thank you for considering me for your blog roll. “Talk” to you soon! 🙂

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