For my son’s birthday one year, we decided to throw a big party and invite a ton of people — his entire class, friends from sports and from church, and of course, all of his cousins. You know, we wanted to make sure enough people actually showed up. Plus, he wanted a Star Wars theme, so I planned it to a “T” with a bunch of Star Wars-themed activities, made simple Jedi costumes for everyone, and ordered a ton of really cool light-up lightsabers. I had it all figured out — while the Luke Skywalker group was playing “pin the ship on the Death Star,” the Yoda group would do the “balance the balloon on the lightsaber” relay. But in spite of my efforts, the party has gone down in my memory as a gigantic headache!

As the day of the party drew near, more and more people began to RSVP. It turned out that almost every single person we invited showed up — about 40 kids! That was the first problem. The second problem was that it was pouring rain! In California, we’re used to planning outside activities year round, so when I realized that we would have to do our Jedi training inside, I knew we were in for an adventure. Even in our very large family room, 40 kids (mostly boys) with glowing lightsabers and bodies chock full of sugar are a recipe for disaster. The games-and-food part of the party was chaotic enough, but when the time to destroy the Darth Vader piñata arrived, the parent helpers who were there began to fear for the health and safety of all! It was pretty much a nightmare. I looked at the chaos thinking: How did I get myself into this mess? Although my son, Daniel, thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to him, I was silently (okay, not so silently) saying that I would never do a party like this again! Luckily nobody got hurt, the furniture was mostly unscathed, and all the kids seemed to have a great time.

Here’s the really great part — this party took place only two months after Kaitlyn’s diagnosis. We were still hovering over her, watching her every move, and still trying to figure out how to care for her in a birthday party type of situation. My initial plan was to keep an eye on her in the house while the party raged on in the backyard, but with the added element of the crazy rainstorm, I had to think quickly on my feet. Luckily, Aunt Jen volunteered to be on “Kaitlyn watch” (check her blood sugar levels, dose her for her food, and keep an eye on her throughout the party). I don’t know what I would have done without her! This was one of the first experiences that I had where I really understood the value of having a backup caretaker for Kaitlyn. In a crazy, rained-out Jedi party situation, I was able to tag-team and keep it all together!


Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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