As the school year comes to a close, Joseph and all of his classmates prepare for their annual overnight field trip to the School Forest. Now, although Joseph and Ryan went last year and had a blast, I'm once again feeling anxious about this outing. There's just so many damn variables-- out-of-the-ordinary activities; foods with a mystery number of carbs; unexpected, and in many cases, unsupervised trips into the woods . . .
Add to these things the fact that Ryan can't do the overnight this year (he's got to work like a dog all week), and that Joseph's class will be joined by four other classes-- meaning many, many more kids than last time -- well, my stomach is in more than a few knots.
Oh and yes, I'm one of the chaperones (along with my trusty three-year-old sidekick, of course).
Did I mention we'll be sleeping in tents?
And that I've not ever actually pitched a tent?
Well, not until Sunday, that is-- when for a trial run, Joseph and I put up the one we'd purchased that day.
This would be the tent we went out and bought because the one that our neighbor was willing to loan us came with no instructions and was (as he put it) "a bit of a challenge to put together."
After about 45 minutes we had the thing in place, and I must say it looked quite nice-- more like a small condo than the six-person tent described on the packaging.
Of course, Joseph insisted we sleep in our new tent that very night because "Mom, it's in the backyard and it'll be fun!"
And you know what?
It also put me right back to the one and only other time I'd slept in a tent-- Joseph had figured large then as well.
Two days after our overnight in the backyard, Joseph leaves for the forest by school bus with the rest of his classmates, while I load the car with our gear-- including the two large bags full of our new tent (no matter how much folding and re-folding, there was no way I could get the darn thing and all of its components back into its original small duffle).
When Evan and I arrive, there's no one at the camp site. However, under a nearby covered pavilion there are at least a hundred rolled up sleeping bags, duffles and backpacks strewn all over and under a dozen picnic tables.
The kids are definitely here. They're just all out in the woods.
At this point, I remember that there was talk of starting the morning with a two-hour nature walk. And now I begin to worry.
What if it's like last year's walk?
I try to keep my mind off what might be happening out there by playing catch with Evan-- missing the ball repeatedly as my eyes wander to the trees surrounding the large clearing where we'll be pitching our tents. We run around, playing chase all over the very sunny, very hot, open field.
Eventually, I convince Evan to walk a little way into the woods, but she quickly gets scared and runs back to the clearing.
Man, I wish I could just hear them.
Finally, after over an hour, kids begin spilling out of the woods-- just a few at first, then dozens of them. Among them are Joseph and his buddy, Sam. They're messin' around, laughing hysterically at something only the two of them seem to understand. I feel a tremendous wave of relief, smiling as I walk toward the two boys. But as I get closer I see right away that Joseph isn't just laughing at some inside joke.
There it is-- that big goofy grin, the extreme silliness.
And as I listen to his banter-- the slurred speech.
He doesn't seem to hear me when I ask him to check his sugar. He just continues to run around -- almost staggering, really -- with his friend.
I have to chase him down, and get him to look at me before he even realizes I'm there.
"Oh Mom, we're just havin' some fun," he says, swaying a bit and sounding drunk.
"Honey," I say, as calmly as I can. "You seem low. Please let's just check your sugar."
"But Mom, I felt low on the walk and took a few glucose tabs. I'm fine."
"How long ago was that?"
He looks at Sam, and they both agree-- about twenty minutes earlier.
We check his sugar-- he's 53.
And suddenly he's acting cold sober, sitting on the ground and eating three more glucose tabs. We wait 15 minutes and check again.
Christ-- why didn't I get here before they went out in the woods?
I fight back tears as Joseph takes three more tabs.
Fifteen minutes more and he's 75.
And from that moment on -- after a huge lunch; climbing on rocks with his buddies; playing soccer; two large slices of pepperoni pizza for dinner (several teachers "delivered" the pizza to the camp); snacks that included an indeterminate amount of "puppy chow" (Chex covered in peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar), chips, cheese curls; crazy skits and songs by the campfire; numerous card games; and, my God, S'mores... yes, after an extraordinary amount of fun --
Joseph's blood sugar never went over 150 or under 73.
And believe me, I checked.
While the sidekick slept.