“What’s insulin?” my daughter asked me as I was buckling her into the car seat.
She knows the word because vials of insulin sit where the butter usually resides in other people’s refrigerators.
“Insulin is a hormone that people’s pancreases make. It helps make the foods we eat into something our bodies can use for energy. My pancreas doesn’t make any insulin, so I put it into my body using my pump or the needles,” is my explanation.
“Right. And that’s why you have diabetes and my dad and I don’t,” she replies.
“Exactly. My pancreas is lazy sometimes. Instead of making insulin, maybe my pancreas goes to the beach?”
She latched onto this idea immediately. “Yeah! Instead of making insulin, your pancreas goes in a ferris wheel!”
“Instead of making insulin, my pancreas has an ice cream party!”
“Oooh, oooh! Instead of making insulin, your pancreas goes to the library and listens to story time and then takes out three books!”
The game went on for the entire car ride home. “Instead of making insulin, your pancreas writes a letter to Santa!” “Instead of making insulin, my pancreas takes a trip around the moon!” “Instead of making insulin, your pancreas jumps on a trampoline!” “Instead of making insulin, my pancreas grows peanuts on a peanut farm!” “Instead of making insulin, your pancreas hangs out on Sundays with Batman!” (On Sundays only.)
As the car pulled into the driveway, we were giggling madly about the adventures of my under-employed pancreas, outlined in great detail.
“Mom, your pancreas is extremely silly.”
“It totally is.”
“I wish it made insulin, though,” she said, snapping reality back into place in that plain, matter-of-fact way only she can. She gave me a grin that made my heart swell and my pancreas shift uncomfortably in its seat.
“Yep. Me too, love.”