When I was growing up summer was a free for all. As long as my chores were done and it wasn’t my day to watch my younger siblings I was off doing all kinds of crazy crap. My crazy crap included long hikes in woods where we made our own trails, catching tadpoles in the pond, jumping in lakes, long bike rides (often to the store to buy soda and candy), walks to the A&W for hotdogs and floats, impromptu baseball games using our flip-flops for bases, unplanned sleep-overs and building forts. My parents both worked so honestly they never really knew what I was up to, where I was or when Id be home. This is how I spent my years between ages 8 and 15. When I was 15 I got my first job at a photo lab and road my bike there each day to work. It was a grand time. My biggest worries were mosquito bites and sunburn and honestly I didn’t actually worry about either.
We recently moved to one of the most beautiful places within the continental US. Everything is green, the air is warm but not hot, the breeze is cool and clean and there are countless trails and ponds to be explored. Our neighbors are wonderful and the neighborhood is full of kids of all ages. My doorbell rings non-stop with kids asking if my boys are home. Kids come and go jumping on the trampoline, playing lacrosse in the yard or basketball in the driveways or scooters in the road, assassin in the cul-de-sac, and playing video games in the rec-room. It is all just wonderful.
Then on a random Tuesday afternoon I am reminded that our normal is not the normal I grew up with and I’m pissed.
Middles was playing video games in the basement (rec-room) with a few friends. Their laughter could be heard on the 3rd floor. All is fabulous. Then after a few moments I realized the laughter was gone. I checked the basement and all the boys were gone. I didn’t think much of it they were likely all in the backyard or the cul-de-sac or the park down the road. I actually smiled to myself thankful they’ve put up the controllers and gone out to play.
A couple hours passed. I wasn’t watching the clock because Middles was gone but rather because I needed to get Sugarboy to soccer. I fed Sugarboy and hustled him off to get ready for soccer. I figured I best let Middles know I was leaving for a bit so I called his phone. No answer. I called again. No answer. Again. No answer. Then Sugarboy yelled down from the stairs – ‘Mom are you calling Middles phone?”
Crap. It was on his bedroom floor.
I turned and saw his glucometer on the counter. I checked the clock again – now its been over two hours since he was last home. How long before he had left had he checked his blood sugar? When did he last eat? Crap. I have to leave, Sugarboy will be late otherwise.
Middles and his friends were not in the backyard. I couldn’t hear them by the pond. They weren’t in the driveway. I grabbed my keys and drove through the cup-de-sac (it’s really more of a circle with a wide group of tall trees and heavy brush about 50 feet by 100 feet in the center which works well for assassin, Nerf wars and airsoft assaults), I drove the 1/4 mile down the road to the park checking other driveways as I went. No Middles to be found. (I wouldn’t normally have driven but I was in a hurry)
I started to panic a little. Over two hours without a blood sugar check (which by itself is not an issue), no fast acting sugar on him, no cell phone on him, do these friends understand diabetes? Has he told them what to do in an emergency? Crap. Crap. Crap.
I call a few neighbors. Have you seen Middles? Nope.
Finally after what felt like a hundred hours but was more like 4 minutes I see him emerge from a friends backyard with his friends all boasting lacrosse sticks.
That’s when I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
He approached the van. Casually he asked where I was off to. I simultaneously wanted to throttle him and hug him.
I told him I was taking his brother to soccer and asked him to get his phone, check his blood sugar and put some fruit snacks in his pocket. I didn’t need to scold him. I could see in his face he knew he messed up. He apologized and told me they were gonna toss the lacrosse ball around in the backyard.
I dropped Sugarboy off at soccer then cried as I drove home.
Screw you diabetes. Screw all of it. Dammit I just wish my kids could disappear into the woods, skip rocks at the pond, ride bikes to the market to get ice-cream, and worry about nothing but bug bites (we will ignore the fact for the moment that there are bears and other clawed animals living in the woods around me).
Yes, I know things could always be worse. My kids are happy, healthy and able to do everything everyone else can do – it’s all the extra crap they have to do that is pissing me off right now.
This feeling will pass and I’ll gently remind my kids to have phones on them and charged, candy in their pockets and to keep me updated on their general whereabouts.
Raising kids with diabetes has many challenges (school care, nighttime numbers, birthday parties, sports, sleepovers, etc). When they were little they were nearly always with me or another adult well versed in diabetes. However they insist on growing on with each year they want and deserve more freedom to explore the world around us. This is just another challenge we as a family with an uninvited member will need to negotiate.