Astronaut Day

“Zoom! Zoom! It’s Astronaut Jude!” He runs around the kitchen making flying noises and “zooming” the toy airplane dangerously close to the food I’m preparing for dinner. 
“Mommy! I’m Astronaut Jude! Look! It’s Astronaut Mommy!”

“Hi, Astronaut Jude, can you please fly into the living room? Astronaut Mommy doesn’t want space shuttle-flavored meatballs.”

As he flies away, tears fill my eyes and a lump in my throat makes it hard to swallow. 

What do you tell a child when you know that there are options that will never be open to him? “You can be anything you want” is an empty promise, now. But to tell him, “Sorry, honey, you’ll never be an astronaut, or go into the military, or anything else that bars preexisting conditions. In fact, for the rest of your life, you will have to get injections 4 to 6 times a day, count everything you eat, check your blood sugar at every meal, and wear a medical alert bracelet.” is cruel. You just don’t say that to a preschooler. And right now, he doesn’t know or care. But what about when he’s ten? Or fifteen? 

A friend gave me an article about a young man who is a senior in highschool, and has been type 1 diabetic for two years. His mom says, “(Diabetes) isn’t who he is, it’s what he has.” And it’s true, my son has every chance of living a long, healthy, full life. And I understand that completely. But the idea of telling him that he won’t ever be an astronaut is just too much right now, so today, I’m not going to face that. Today we are going to play astronaut and whatever else he wants, maybe dinosaurs, while we’re at it. Come to think of it, my daughter wants to be a Tyrannasaurus Rex when she grows up, so maybe they’re on even ground. I guess the lesson here is that there will always be things we can’t achieve, but we can’t let that rob us of what we do have, or can be.  Someday, I’ll explain to him what career options are going to be easier than others for him to get into, but today is Astronaut day.

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