On an unseasonably warm afternoon, I agree to take Joseph and his two new friends (12-year old "G"and his 9-year old brother "R") to an outdoor skateboarding park about 20 minutes from our house.
Sure, I've got a boatload of laundry to do, a garden to clear, groceries to buy...
But man, it is one beautiful day.
So I head out to the backyard to tell Ryan the plan-- and to see if he's all right with it.
You see, he's been out there raking for almost half an hour, and I'm feeling a bit sheepish about taking off like this.
But once I tell him, Ryan leans on his rake, smiles and says:
"Bring some coffee, a book, and a chair-- it'll be fun. And don't forget your sunglasses."
"But what about Evan?"
"You don't want to be following her around while the boys are skating-- and besides," he says, grinning broadly and pointing at the massive pile of crisp, golden leaves in front of him, "she's gonna want to jump in these."
A few minutes later, I'm driving three loud, giddy boys to a skate park.
The whole way there, they talk enthusiastically about "kick flips," "pop shove-its" and "dropping in," while I half listen-- and at the same time, do some preemptive thinking.
Okay, so he had a late breakfast-- we'll just check his blood sugar before he starts skating, give him a snack, then go have lunch about an hour later.
His sugars were in a nice range this morning so we should be good.
Pulling into the parking lot, I see the skate park some distance away-- all concrete, peppered with several large ramps, platforms and metal rails, and surrounded by a chain link fence.
Immediately after I turn off the engine, Joseph and his buddies scramble out of the van, grab skateboards and helmets, and make for the park.
"Wait! Joseph, come here-- I want you to check your sugar before you skate."
R is already halfway to the park, but G rides his board back to the van with Joseph.
He watches carefully as Joseph pricks his finger, touches it to the end of a loaded test trip-- and then (as always) covers the meter's display with one hand until he hears the beep.
No insulin on board... he's gonna be pretty active...
"Bud, how 'bout you eat this chocolate chip-peanut butter granola bar?"
"Sure," he says grabbing the bar from my outstretched hand. Immediately, he tears the thing open and takes a huge bite.
"How about you, G-- would you like one, too?"
"Yeah-- thanks," he says, eyes lighting up.
Five minutes later, the boys are riding up and down ramps, doing tricks... and I'm settled in on my lawn chair just outside the park's open gate-- sun on my face; a thermos full of warm coffee in one hand, a book about XHTML (I kid you not) in the other.
Ten minutes later, Joseph falls.
"Bud, are you all right?" I call out, stifling a gasp.
"Yeah," he says, but he's slow to get up. He'd been coming down a high ramp when his board flew out from under him.
G skates over to him, but Joseph waves his friend off and is soon back on his board.
I close my book.
That was a tough one-- but he got right back up... awesome.
At that moment, while marveling at my son's resilience, I see him skate awkwardly over to another ramp, and then stumble off his board.
"Bud, are you- "
"I'm fine," he says.
But he's not. I know he's not.
And about 30 seconds later-- he knows it, too.
"Mom, I'm feeling kinda hungry," he says-- and then he walks slowly over to where I'm sitting, with G and his brother following right behind.
"Bud, you just had that granola bar, and I left the wipes in the car-- I'll be back in less than a minute, and then you can do a check." Turning away from him and his friends, I sprint toward the van.
But Joseph doesn't wait-- before I get far, he's calling me back.
"I'm 42!" he yells.
He was 125 less than 15 minutes ago... and he didn't even wash his hands...
I spin around, run back to where he's standing, and for about a second, am struck by how pale he looks.
How it happened so fast.
"Take five tabs, Bud."
Joseph shoves several large glucose tablets into his mouth, while his friends stand on either side of him-- both wearing the same concerned expression.
They haven't known him long -- maybe three weeks. And this is the first time they've seen him low.
After eating the tabs, Joseph insists on going back in the park with his friends-- and sitting at the top of a ramp several yards away while he waits for the glucose to start working.
"It'd be better if you stayed he- " I start to say, but the words fall away.
Full of fear, I watch him climb that ramp, and then I can only see his legs-- another platform obstructs my view.
It's hard, not going after him.
But he wants to be in there, with his friends-- even if he can only sit and wait.
A long 15 minutes later, he's back up to 89.
And after quickly eating a bag of cheese crackers, he's back up on his board.
That was a tough one-- but (thank God) he got right back up...
And again, I marvel at my son's resilience, as I watch him skate fast and sure over concrete-- to the top of yet another ramp.