The Popsicle, or Having a Field Day With Diabetes

A re-posting from last year at this time. I must admit I looked it up to find the popsicle count, as tomorrow is yet another field day.


The popsicle was due to arrive mid-morning, midfield.

The mother served her son jelly beans--five, then five again--and remembered the popsicle. Would it be a cherry one-stick pop or the break apart and share kind? The crab walk, bottle lid toss, and flag football required the energy a popsicle would provide, but not retroactively, if we could help it. Another relay. Two more jelly beans. The popsicle?

The PE teacher drives the golf cart by. How's he doing?

Just fine, the mother says, but about those popsicles.

At lunch, he says, tipping his cap, driving away.

Ah, at lunch. To be added into his regular insulin shot, then. Good timing.

A kid walks up to the mother. I had diabetes once, he says.

You probably didn't, she says.

A break. The mother walks from the schoolyard to the cafeteria. The popsicles, she says to the lunch lady, they're coming at lunch?

I heard 11:15, she says. From Joe. A minute ago. They shrug.

But are they here now? The popsicles?

They are. The lunch lady lifts the multipak from the freezer, tears open the plastic. The mother removes a box (assorted, cherry orange grape) and turns it over for the nutrition label: 10 carbs.

Ten plus 40.5 carbs packed into lunchbox equals 50.5 divided by 20 equals 2.5 units of insulin.
Did he have his diabetes yet? another kid asks the mother.

Huh? she answers.

Did he...have his diabetes yet?

Did he have his shot yet, do you mean? He nods. No, not yet. He'll get it at lunch. Right now he can eat jelly beans without a shot, because they give him energy for all the games this morning.

The teacher approaches the mother and says, 11:40. The mother performs mental calculations. What's 31 jelly beans divided by 34 carbs equal per bean, again?

C'mon, Mama! Next game! The boy grabs his mother's hand and leans his warm head on her arm. He smells like butter.

At 11:40, the mother tells her son to choose a popsicle and meet her for a blood sugar check.

No popsicles.

On the back playground right now, before lunch, the teacher calls. A blood sugar check, then: 118. Very good. The shot, in the hallway, surrounded by the children. They line up and walk away.

Eat your lunch and a popsicle! the mother calls out. Soon! She gathers her belongings, checks supplies in the school office. Just as she prepares to leave, the line of children appears again around the corner, headed back toward her.

No popsicles. The son hugs the mother. The mother fishes out part of the son's lunch and instructs him to eat.

At lunch! They'll be at lunch. The teacher has solved the mystery. Or has she? The children line up again to head back to their classroom. The mother kisses goodbye her child, the one who washes his hands when told to brush his teeth. Will her remember the popsicle? There can be no underestimating the importance of this popsicle.

The popsicle! she calls after him. Don't forget!

He turns and smiles; his blue eyes know. Then he joins the group and together, they walk away.


  1. An incisive and frequently astonishing insight into a very, very different life than most of us live...

    I think you (all) are handling it with grace. I'm sure there is an amazing amount of fear, frustration, and just plain annoyance (dealing with all the jackasses who DON'T GET IT). And yet you are interacting with the world in the most positive, elegant way possible. Kudos, friend.

  2. Thanks, Lisa. Yesterday's field day was quite similar to this one--all about the arrival of the popsicle--and yet I was taken with how I've changed in the past year. I know more, now, and yet I'm always learning. About everything, but especially diabetes, which one can never quite get a handle on. A mom asked me yesterday if I've "got it all figured out by now"; it's a typical question, and I always have to break the news that there's no getting on top of this disease, just constant management.

  3. i remember this post from last year. glad to see from your comment all went well. i get similar conversation starters from people who think that 2-3 years in, it's all sorted and nothing to be concerned about really. it depends on the mood i'm in as to what my response is (do i feel like advocating/educating or just smiling and nodding).

    this was the first year i didn't volunteer at field day. the kid didn't want me there and she's handling stuff on her own now so it's all good.

  4. Amazing you can be free of some of these responsibilities. I'm just amazed at the number of hours I put in at the school for diabetes' sake. I get so tired of being there, though I enjoy all the people and would do anything for Theo.

  5. This is excellent. I come here all the time and it’s post like this that are the reason. Keep up the great writing.

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