This photo of M was taken during our stint at the London 2012 Paralympic Games last September. It was an amazing experience for us all and one I doubt we will ever forget. Thinking about the trials and tribulations we face on an almost daily basis, I realise that it really is true, everyone does need a hero.
I’ve yet to find out who M’s hero is, or indeed who G has found to admire, but I know my hero without question – Sir Steve Redgrave. One of the greatest British Olympians ever, in my opinion, and what is more, he’s an individual with diabetes succeeding in his chosen field. He may have been diagnosed over 10 years after my own diagnosis, but his determination “[from]…very early on that diabetes was going to live with me, not me live with diabetes” has always been inspirational to me. Whilst I have never had, nor am ever likely to have, aspirations to be an Olympic athlete of any description, to know that a fellow diabetic, just like Gary Mabbutt MBE, could become a world class athlete is awe-inspiring.
I would love M to have a hero who suffers from the same condition as him, so that he can see that he can achieve anything in life that he puts his mind to. As a parent, I believe it’s my job to help him build his dreams and see them through to fruition. Whatever our children choose to be, I hope that Mike and I can support them as they strive to achieve their goals.
Attending the 2012 Paralympics was an opportunity for our children to see that, whatever your disability or difficulty in life, you can become an amazing sportsman (or woman!) and represent your country. There was a refreshing honesty in walking around the Olympic park, feeling the love and support for these athletes from everyone there and being able to hold them up as potential heroes. I loved that M and G could openly question what disabilities existed without being embarrassed or hushed for fear of offending the individual in question. Of course, they need to learn to be tactful, but we need to learn to be honest with them. If we show embarrassment in our approach to disability, how can the next generation learn to be open-minded?
There is no embarrassment in being a little different from your peers and M will need to learn to cope with the questions and comments that will no doubt come his way as he grows older. He struggles with dealing with his classmates and will often want to keep quiet about his regular hospital visits, but he does carry on, against the odds. As he hits his teen years, though not for a long time yet thank goodness, I have no doubt that he will rebel against his condition and the fact that he is different, but as long as I can see him through those turbulent times, I will feel that it’s a job well done.
And who knows, whilst we still search for an EGID hero for M to admire, perhaps he will become one in his own right one day!