Joey is growing up, which is the natural progression of life. So why do I feel like I need to grow along with him?
This past week has been a growing experience for all of us. Saturday he asked if he and a friend could get a ride to his school’s big track meet. It was held at CMH, and I knew that there would be a lot of parents there who are aware that Joey has type 1 diabetes. The problem is that I didn’t talk to anyone to make sure someone was watching over him. Which is exactly what he wanted, to be on his own at an event. I’ve always made it clear to my kids that when you attend a small school, (smaller than our big public schools) and you are out at an event with friends, on your own, there are always eyes on them. And that I would most likely hear about the negative stuff they did, rather than the positive, therefore, always act like you do when you are with me and your dad.
Most parents don’t have to think twice about dropping their kids off at a school event, in fact by 6th grade it’s quite common. For us, it’s not so easy, I have major anxiety every time I leave him somewhere if we aren’t along. Kids with type 1 diabetes get dehydrated super fast, a lot faster than kids that don’t have it. Their blood sugar also goes high and low at times, both having their own side effects. For instance if Joey goes low, and doesn’t treat in time with a fast-acting glucose, he could pass out and go into a diabetic coma. If his blood sugar is to high, and goes untreated by way of a correction, he could have a seizure.
After talking it over with Joe, we decided to let him go to the track meet. The deal was that he had to test his blood sugar every 2 hours and text me the number! He passed with flying colors, this time.
Along with Joey growing up comes a responsibility on his part, to take care of himself, and put his health before his “reputation.” Joey is a pretty well-liked kid, very popular, and girls are starting to come into the picture. My fear is that he won’t test his blood sugar if there are girls around, or if there are new kids around. Take for instance the other night at basketball practice. It was his first practice, only knows a couple of the boys. Joe and I went along to check it out, and talk to the coach for Joey’s team. Joey put his sports bag with all his supplies on the bleachers. It was a very fast paced 2 hour practice with one water break. I expected him to come over and check his blood sugar, but he didn’t. When I gave him that look, he shook his head no, and looked away. This is what worries me. When practice ended, he said he felt good during practice, so he didn’t feel the need to check. I have to trust that he knows his body, and will make decisions based on that.
The long term effects of type 1 diabetes is high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, neuropathy, hardening of the arteries, which can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. It’s so important that we teach Joey that what he does now, sets the stage for his future health.
A couple days later a friend called Joey and asked him to join some buddies to go jump at the new trampoline place in town. I asked him if the Mom was going to stay while they played. The answer was “I don’t know.” I explained that if the Mom was not going to stay then I would have to go along. The reason: some kids with type 1 exerts so much energy jumping, that their blood sugar drops fast and furious! Sometimes so low that they get off and are a bit confused!! How could I let him go without adult supervision? I couldn’t for his health. I was so happy when the place was full for the night, so they decided to go play Laser tag instead. Again, my question was “will the mom stay?” Turns out that the boys baby sitter was driving them there. My heart sunk! Not only am I I worried about him going without us, but now he is going in a car with a teenager driving? I didn’t know her at all. When she pulled up Joe and I were both outside. Joe asked her if she was planning on staying…nope. She had to drop off, then run to school and give a quick presentation! She would only be about an hour, and then would be there to pick them up! Now what do we do? I offered to drive the kids myself, but since she was the babysitter, she had to earn her fee. I considered driving him separately but soon saw disappointment on his face. I had to let him go.
The minute they pulled away, Joe and I looked at each other with panic on our faces. It’s part of growing up, going with friends to parties, sporting events, Laser Tag. But for us, it’s been under our watchful eye. Take a deep breath and breathe.
As a parent it’s my job to teach him to be independent, if he doesn’t learn how to take care of himself, I failed. So why am I feeling so anxious now that he wants to take the steps to independence? Since 2009 I have been like Joey’s pancreas, always there with him, to make sure he checks his blood sugar, to help count carbs, to have him check his blood sugar during sports. I went to school everyday for 2 years to dose his lunch. All along, teaching and guiding him – to become self-sufficient. I just wasn’t prepared for him to grow up so fast. I was preparing him to spread his wings, and learn to fly, and prayerfully, stay on course. Joey is growing up, he is doing what every other kid his age does, he wants some space, to learn to do things without us. He knows it hard for us. And he respects that, but is also asking for us to let him grow up.
As the car drove off, with Joey inside, Joe looked at me and asked: “Are you ready?” I asked “for what?” He said, “to go sit in the parking lot of the Laser Tag place!” Yep, just let grab my purse!