A few weeks ago we celebrated Sam’s “moving up ceremony” from 5th grade to middle school.
We had been looking forward to this day for several years, of course, and so I awoke that morning with many thoughts. I was primarily concerned with the logistics of getting everyone to the right place on time with the appropriate clothing, food, and medical equipment. 90 minutes later, I was out the door with my 2 older sons on my way to drop them at school and save seats in the auditorium. I scurried in with a friend and we remembered the day our children started kindergarten. She reminded me that at that time I was shuffling my feet, hunched over from my C-section with Leo only a few weeks before.
As I entered the auditorium, it was hard to believe this was Sam’s final assembly in elementary school! It wasn’t that time had flown by, or that it seemed like yesterday when they were so little. Not at all. It was more like an endless series of storms mixed with brief periods of calm. Too many significant medical diagnoses, fluky traumas and unexpected surgeries, not to mention the emotional backlash of it all… But enough of that. I forced myself to shut out these thoughts and smile, to be “in the moment.”
I looked around remembering Sam’s kindergarten assembly. Back then, I still had a busy pediatrician’s schedule. Although both the hospital and practice knew I was unavailable for the morning, the burn unit somehow managed to find and page me. I was so aggravated at the time for needing to shift my focus away from my son’s first school performance. Years later, here I was in the very same auditorium, the lights began to dim and people started to sit down. Other than focusing on Sam, my only concern was that my husband, his parents and my parents had not arrived. Where were they? I realized my parents were probably battling bridge traffic, but Adam was never late for these events and his parents (who had flown in from Florida the previous evening) were ready since 7am. Somewhere between the national anthem and the principal’s speech they arrived and took their seats. “I had to drive back home for the gluten free cookies so Sam could eat afterwards”, whispered Adam. I grimaced, but I also understood. Sam would have been very upset. But they were right there on the table! How hard was it to remember???
Back to the ceremony, where we watched the kids perform skits, songs, remembering their years at the school. It was beautiful. The video montage featured each student’s class photo next to a baby picture and hundreds of candid photos of their years together.
There he is, my Sam… an intense boy. He has always been active and spirited with a wry sense of humor, fun-loving but not light-hearted. In preschool he was described as an “old soul” in a young body. Perhaps he somehow knew that by the age of 9 he would have a list of chronic medical diagnoses half his number of years. If you saw him on the soccer field or in a heated discussion in the classroom, you would never know his challenges. Strong and vibrant, compassionate for others, I am so proud of him. I loved watching the pictures of him with his friends, growing up in this school. All good until that picture of the 1st grade Author’s Tea. My stomach did a little flip when I remembered that day. Each student shared their biography which, among other things, included one important wish. Most wished for world peace or an end to poverty. Sam’s one wish was that his brother Leo didn’t have diabetes. Who ever thought at the time that he would end up having diabetes as well? … Again, I forced myself to snap out of it. I looked at him in the front row (he and his friend always manage to be in the front row for these ceremonies). He looked so happy , handsome and ….was that another yawn Sam? How many times have you yawned in the last five minutes? And, why are the two of you smirking up there?
Afterwards we went to the post-ceremony reception where we greeted each other, thanked the wonderful teachers and took many photos before getting on with our day. My immediate responsibility was to pick up 20 pizza pies for the kid’s pool party. A brave mother had invited all 67 kids to her house for the afternoon and I was going to help chaperone.
The kids had a blast at the pool party. It was a nice way for the parents to spend the afternoon as well. For me, it was a lot different than rushing back to do a consult in the burn unit. Don’t get me wrong-I would give anything, work anywhere for Sam to not have diabetes. But in this situation I was glad I could help him figure out the carb count for his food, make sure he had his lactaid pills and gluten-free pizza and protect his insulin pump from the heat and water. He probably could have done well enough on his own, but this was a special day for him. He had so much to think about all the time. I wanted to simplify things so he could just have fun.
Then, soon enough, it was time to pick Leo up from school, prepare dinner, and get the boys out in time for their evening baseball playoff game.
During the baseball game, I was able to relax and reflect on the day’s events. It was a great day for Sam and for all of us. As a bonus, the boys won their game, landing a spot in the championships. And I was a parent of a middle schooler. How did that happen?