When Ben was first diagnosed in 1st grade all of his play dates came to abrupt end. Over the past few years we have been able to train a couple friends on how to take care of him and he has been able to go on a handful of play dates. He has even had a few sleepovers with his best buddy A. (And for that we have been very thankful.) But for the most part the invitations for play dates stopped.
Now that Ben has started a new school he is making many new friends and the calls to arrange play dates have started again. When Jeff and I received our first invitation to have Ben over for a play date we both looked at each other and sighed. We both knew that we needed to let Ben go and we needed to muster up the courage to let him go. I know that sounds simple enough, but I promise it was no easy task. We were going to have to dig really, really deep to find that amount of courage.
Before we could let Ben go we needed Ben to agree to some basic rules.
First, if he started to feel low he needs to stop playing and check himself. Now, I am very aware this will likely never happen. Not because I don't expect him to go low, but because he will never stop playing long enough to ever realize that he is feeling low. As a back up we are sure to do a quick training on hypoglycemia with the parent in charge which always ends with this basic instruction, "If Ben becomes incoherent or passes out call 911 first and then me after."
Second, if he is offered any snacks he must first check his blood sugar and then give me a call to discuss carbs counts. Because Ben has become an expert carb counter we feel fairly confident he can handle this responsibility.
Lastly, he has to check his blood sugar every two hours. To help remind him to check we bought Ben a watch that allows us to set multiple alarms. He has successfully used the watch alarms to remind him to visit the school nurse during the school day.
I also explained to Ben it was important to follow all these rules because we really want him to be able to go on play dates with his new friends. For that to happen we need him to follow the rules and to take the lead with his diabetes care. This felt like a really tough conversation to have with a 9 year old, but I think he understood.
After Jeff and I decided we could let Ben go, I suggested that it was time to get Ben a cell phone. We had made his brothers wait until they were in the 6th grade and in the middle school before they were allowed to get cell phones. But I argued since Ben had to communicate with us frequently while he is away we needed to break the 6th grade rule and get him a cell phone earlier. Now, Jeff hates to break rules! And he argued Ben could just use the home phone where ever he is. Since that was solid logic, I let it go (sort of).
With these basic rules in place and some additional parent training Ben has already been on several play dates. Now, to be clear, both Jeff and I were nervous every time Ben was away. We sat near the phone waiting for his calls. And of course, I took every opportunity to point out how nice it would be to just text Ben and check in on him.
Ben followed all his rules and his numbers were great. Hopefully, we did not scare all the lovely parents away and Ben gets invited again. Ben has proved he can handle the responsibility.
We had mustered up the courage and I felt like we had won (at least this small battle.) But my winning had not stopped ... Jeff texted me this today: