Monday, October 17, 2005

The Slumber Party

That's how Joseph celebrated reaching the big one-O.

Six boys, two adults, one toddler . . . all under one roof.

For 19 hours.

Yeah, some thought we were a little nuts for agreeing to do this, but hey, this was a big birthday. As Joseph said, "Mom, I'm part of the decade club, now."


Anyhow, things got started a bit earlier than expected. You see, the party was scheduled to begin at 4pm on Saturday. However, Joseph's buddy Zachary, a boy with flaming red hair and freckles, who lives just down the block, showed up at 8am.

He was really excited.

Zachary is two years younger than all of the other guests, and in Joseph's mind, his honorary little brother. He's a real sweetheart-- a boy who is very much affected by the fact that Joseph has diabetes. Whenever they're playing together outside (which is almost every day) and Joseph has a low, they'll both come inside. And as the meter counts down, I sometimes look over at Zachary -- his face, full of concern, breath held, eyes watering.
The kid just kills me sometimes.

So, Zach showing up early-- no problem.

Noah was next. His folks had other plans for that day, so his drop-off was at 1pm. Again, fine. Noah is another sweetheart. He's a very kind, very cerebral kid. And, because of this, I worried at first about how he'd do later with the other more rambunctious members of the party, but he made out just fine.

Sam, a bigger boy whose voice had already begun to change, arrived at 3:30. His mom said, "Sam just couldn't wait to come. He was up at 6am asking, 'how long before the party?'"

I loved hearing this, seeing the enthusiasm of these friends of Joseph's. He really had made some fine choices.

The last two guests-- Nate and Ahren -- arrived promptly at four.

So there we were. Did I have games planned? Special activities? Party favors and "goody" bags? The traditional singing of "Happy Birthday" followed by a "formal" present-opening?

You know, all the birthday-party trappings?

Well, no. Not exactly.

As each boy arrived, Joseph opened his gift and had a one-on-one moment to thank his friend, and then moved on to whatever we had going on.

Which was pretty free-form.

I thought it would be easier that way, and a lot more fun. It seemed that Ryan agreed with this approach. In fact, he expressed his feelings toward our responsibilities as hosts in very, well, um, minimalist terms. He told several parents at drop off -- "if anyone expects much more for their child than safety and food, they're gonna be disappointed."

Yeah, that about summed it up.

First instructions to the boys as the party began, "go outside." And that's where they remained for a chunk of the party-- out in the driveway-- scootering, skateboarding, shooting hoops. Milling about like bees, they were. Though every time Ryan tried to take a photo, they'd stop what they were doing and strike various goofy poses. Not exactly the moment Ryan had hoped to capture.

Around 5:30, I fired up the grill, and started flipping turkey burgers and "Boca" burgers (we had two vegetarians in the group.... man, how things have changed since I was a kid).

I set up the food out back on our patio table, called the boys, and said "time to eat." And again, left them to their own device. Oh sure, I came out once in a while with some more root beer-- diet for Joseph AND Zachary (who would never let his friend feel alone in anything).

Then it was back out front for more hoops, and more scootering and skateboarding up and down the wooden ramp that Ryan had built for Joseph. Leaning against our concrete steps, that ramp enabled boys to "drop in" and do "kick turns." (Oh yeah, I know the lingo.)

So this all went on until after dark. Around 7:30pm, we corralled the boys into our two cars for the "treat" portion of the evening-- which basically meant a trip to the DQ. The boys were in heaven. They stood outside with their icees, and chocolate-dipped cones (Joseph's favorite), and their Dilly bars. Oh, and one butterscotch shake for Noah. Interesting kid.

Anyhow, they goofed on each other, while I sat on a bench with Evan, helping her polish off a bit of soft serve. And wondering if letting Joseph have that medium cone was a good idea. He usually gets a small, but dang! This was his birthday party.

Back at the house, the next phase of the party began with me telling the boys, "time to go down in the basement." We have a decent-sized finished area-- nothing fancy. And it's loaded with toys. Of course, the countless Legos that Joseph has accumulated over the years are down there. (I suffered too many foot injuries to allow them to remain in his room.)

The boys built a whole Lego city, with a skatepark to boot.

Finally, at 9pm, it was movie time. Joseph had picked the Will Farrell vehicle, Kicking and Screaming. While I set up the flick, the boys changed into their pajamas, hauled their sleeping bags into the living room, and told each other rude jokes involving "farting" and "vomit" -- the usual fare from adolescent boys.

As they all grew quiet, I sat down and had a lovely dinner with Ryan.

At 9:30pm.

By 10:30, I was ready for bed. So I left the boys to Ryan, who would be coming downstairs to check Joseph's sugars throughout the night.

Now, some might be wondering about Joseph's blood sugars during all of this. Well, after waking up higher than usual (183), then spiking two hours post-breakfast to 292, Joseph crashed less than half an hour after lunch, when he hit 45.

NOT how we wanted to start the whole slumber party experience.

Happily, his sugars remained steady for the remainder of the afternoon and early evening (between 74 and 151). But then, the roller coaster recommenced with a slight low (69) at 10pm, which I'm sure was due to the amazing amount of activity during the day. Then another low two hours later (this time, 66), followed by a rebound high that kept him hovering in the low 200s for a few hours. Not a good night, sugar-wise.

But birthday-wise, a damn good night, indeed.

A postscript-- After the Slumber Party, we had a family celebration on Sunday afternoon with Indian food for lunch (which didn't do too much damage), and then back home later for Ryan's fabulous double-decker chocolate cake. And in case anyone was worried, we did sing "Happy Birthday."


d double e said...

Sandra- Thanks so much for sharing your incredible day. It seems like it shouldnt have been that long ago that I was at one of those parties.

And damn, those legos do hurt.

Give the kids a huge hug for me... I've been doing that a LOT lately.


Shannon said...

Happy Birthday to Joseph! Jessica had her 4th birthday on Oct. 17.

Brendon asked about his friend Christopher coming over for a sleep over. I'd rather kids come to my house than have Bren go to someone else's house.

It would be interesting to see how you handle Joseph going to someone else's house. I'm living vicariously through you!

Sandra Miller said...


I completely understand your desire to have kids come your way for sleepovers.

I feel that way as well-- mainly because we still check Joseph so frequently at night. I'm hoping that that will change in the near future. You see, before Joseph had diabetes, he did do sleepovers at his friends' houses. So it's kind of tough to stop doing something he had so much fun doing before. Thankfully, there's been only one sleepover invite since his diagnosis (Sad, in a way though, because it makes me wonder if parents are afraid to have him over).

Ah well, sorry for the ramble of a response. I'll keep you posted on any future sleepovers, at our house or elsewhere.