Although I felt I had much to do that afternoon, I decided why not? Be the cool parent for a change. Even though we spend a lot of quality time together, he will not be young forever and before I know it, I will not be so cool, and he’ll want to eat chicken wings with his friends.
As we were ordering, he asked me if he could drink a cola. For many families, this is an everyday occurrence. In an effort to just be healthier in general, we only buy them when we are hosting parties or drink the occasional one when out. It is a healthier option for any child, and I save myself. If they are there, I will start drinking them!
I was too tired to bargain on this one. However, it was dinner time and I did not want to be up all night managing blood sugars. For us, I find these things sit better during mid-day. Not sure if it is because the body can use the energy or some other metabolic phenomenon, but I usually notice a late night spike when a sugary drink is involved even if I bolused correctly.
That day and time, diet cola was the lesser of the two evils. He was perfectly fine with that as we do not drink those much either.
When our waiter came, I ordered two diet colas. He paused. As he wrote the order he verbalized “One regular and one diet coke”.
I corrected it politely. “No, that was two diet colas”. He paused again and tilted his head in that funny way to question it.
I wasn’t sure what was so confusing, but just to reconfirm again I restated the order and “two diet colas”.
He then he started to mumble and gesture with his hands.
“Sorry, I do not understand”, I said. He then proceeds to tell me as he motions toward my son, “He is a child. Regular cola is better for him.” Seriously? BETTER?
Too tired to go into details, I politely state again, “No, two diet colas will be fine”.
He was quite the persistent waiter. He then tried to reason with me. “Come on, he is a small boy. He needs cola”. Seriously? Who NEEDS cola?
Again, but a little more firmly this time, probably gritting my teeth in order to not shout “No, he doesn’t need regular cola. Two diet colas will be fine.”
I see my son watching patiently, perhaps almost entertained with widening eyes. It is not the first time he has seen me advocate for something. Fortunately he understands diabetes.
But yet, the waiter insisted again. Insisting in that shrug your shoulders kind of way as if I am almost abusing my child and depriving him of the essence of childhood. "Come on" he said as he pleaded to me.
My patience had run out long ago. This time I stood up and called the guy to follow me a few tables away. Knowing he would not grasp the whole Type 1 thing in the few seconds that I was willing to spend with him, I left it at “My son is a Type 1 diabetic. I do not want him to have a regular cola right now. Please. Take my advice. Do not question your customers’ choices for their children. Sometimes there are good reasons for this that you may not be aware of”.
Even saying that felt like too much of an explanation, but that is what came out. I didn’t shout, but there must have been some form of “Are you kidding me?” rage oozing out of my ears because I could see he was surprised. He got the point.
I know he didn’t mean to be rude, or keep insisting. It is not uncommon for people to insist their ideas are right – especially when it comes to children - even though I am pretty sure this guy was too young to have any.
I have lived in places where it is the norm for strangers to give their advice. I hate it, and even people in those cultures do too, but it still happens. It happens more as I publically manage my son’s diabetes, and he will also come across similar situations where someone will insist that cinnamon will cure it.
Best I can do is advocate for him, and try to lead by example so he is prepared when it becomes time for self-management. I am not always the best example, but at least this time as I sat down my son didn’t question me or my response. We carried on talking about his day at school.
Later I asked for more napkins as we enjoyed our messy wings he brought me a mountain of paper. He may still be clueless about Type 1, but hopefully he will not impose on a customer again.
Mom – 1, Stranger imposing their opinion – 0.