Sunday, March 4th 2018
(Click video below.)
Sunday, March 4th 2018
(Click video below.)
Thursday March 1st 2018
Ding dong. Who is it? Cousin Olivia!
Love you Olivia!
Wednesday, February 28th 2018
Sacred in the Mundane indeed.
Look at my spectacular child! What a joy it is for any parent to detect evidence that some parenting efforts might not be in vain.
Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!
Tuesday, February 27th 2018
1) Lulling Babies
The morning at Hasbro Hospital with Dr. Bahfoo starts with lots of babies and little toddlers, many of whom respond soulfully to ukulele lullabies, much to the delight of the Child Life Intern shadowing us today. Thanks to Dr. Bahfoo we sang my “Song About Your Name” a fair amount today, medlied with a fair amount of “Doo Dee Dah.” In addition to being a brilliant clown, Dr. Bahfoo is also a beautiful singer, and IMHO it sounds amazing when we sing together and harmonize and stuff.
2) Or Just To BE
Playing with Bahfoo reminds me it’s more important to BE than to DO. I am becoming ever more comfortable and confident in providing focus and attention at times when he is being brilliant. Or brilliantly stupid.
3) Blood Draw Song
A Child Life Specialist downstairs relays a story of a child who requested me specifically. She was reluctantly getting a blood draw and cried out “I need the people dressed up as elves who sing the SONG!” I’ve only been at Hasbro twice before but each time I did have the opportunity to perform and sing enough total distractions to assist a couple young patients through unwanted blood draw procedures. So it was one of them. She even suggested we perform something on her PHONE so she could show it the next time its needed in our absence. We know it wouldn’t be the same as performing and responding in the moment so, for now we’re thinking about what a pre-recorded Blood Draw Song might be like.
4) Things Are Not Always What They Seem
There is a baby fussing at his mom and I instinctively play soothing music from the door. Baby settles right down, but when mom has to run to the bathroom he starts hollering again. I realize he’s not just fussy, he’s demanding! Robust, bossy, fantastic. We move on feeling we made a difference. When we happen back by and he is fussing again, I am told not to enter the room even though no precautions are posted. Turns out the mom is having G.I. problems and that is why we need to practice precautions. Also come to find out the baby is deaf! It’s possible the baby was responding to the energy we created in the room but also possible we were having no effect whatsoever. #Woops!
5) Dr. Bahfoo Bafflements
Among other things from Dr. Bahfoo today, I learn the hand signals for “Wicked Major Whatever,” a 1,2,3 trick with just a scarf and fingers, and that bubbles can make sounds (although naturally he tends to mis-identify what those sounds are). In short, I love this clown!
6) Did You See That?
A nine year old girl is in the Psychiatric Department accompanied by a security guard due to a very choatic home life situation, including having been burned. It has been challenging to learn that this is not uncommon; that many children literally get burned –on purpose– by those who are supposed to be their caretakers (although we don’t know if that is the case with this girl). All we know is she is vibrant, delightful, and hilariously scandalized by our apparent inability to wear our eyeglasses correctly or work out out whose are whose. Our glasses end up all tangled up together, and I resolve the situation by finally placing them both on my face even though Dr. Bafu’s finger is still stuck between them. Ah, there! (Probably my favorite clowning moment today.)
Once that is settled, this amazing girl performs a card trick for us! Then Dr. Bahfoo performs one for her, involving the nice security guard in order to help foster their relationship that day.
7) Point Taken
The day ends with teenagers as it began with babies. Back to back we visit two 15 year olds, a boy and a girl, each intelligent and charming with humor on full display. After some rudimentary questions, Dr. Bahfoo repeatedly asks Devin “Do you have any questions?” After Devin demurs several times I press Bahfoo what he’s getting at. “Well if I had two clowns come to my door I would have some questions,” he says,”Like what are you doing here? Do you call that a real job? What life choices did you make to end up here?” etc. Point taken! By the time we leave I am inexplicably speaking in a fake Russian accent, we are coaching this 15 year old on how best to tell his dad when he needs to “make a fecal matter,” and his adorable Dad is still wearing the red nose we put on him.
8) Since You Asked…
The next 15 year old is a bookish mental powerhouse that reminds me of my son in a few years. After quite a protracted set of failed introductions and some indiscrete clown-squabbling from behind the curtain, we finally present ourselves to her. Her favorite author is Dan Brown and J.R.R. Tolkein. When Bahfoo asks if she has any questions she doesn’t hesitate; Where did we get our degrees? and while we’re at it, What is the meaning of life? (She’s working on that one right now in her life she tells us.) We give her our sincerest subjective answers and afterwards I’m wondering as I so often do who was really more enriched by this encounter anyway; the patient or us?
9) These Clowns
The final teenagers are up in a secured collective Psychiatric wing. This is my first time. Instinctively I understand what Bahfoo tells me later; that his best notion how to approach these kids is to just be real. That doesn’t stop one girl from stomping off in a huff muttering, “I am not talking to these clowns.” A couple other girls stay with us; the conversation feels edgy and precarious but is intriguing and compelling. Another girl eventually tells us she left her visitors -mom and aunt- down the hall because she felt “bad no one was hanging out with the clowns.” I tell her that while pity is not exactly what we’re after, it is very thoughtful of her, lol.
Then along comes Cooper, an exuberant Golden Retriever Therapy Dog (different from the one in Boston). Per usual I drop decorum and gush over the dog with squeakers, kazoos and juggling as is now customary for me. Cooper predictably becomes the most rapt juggling audience ever, and I am able to position us such that his amazed face is right up near the girls, and they love it.
We end on this note and call it a day. Looking forward to more work and absurdity with Dr. Bahfoo to come, to making him “look stupid again,” and to more singing.
I was already in the middle of Parenting Class when an uneasy feeling caused me to double check my schedule and, WOOPS, I’m due at the hospital in 45 minutes! Off I run across town, and valet my car for however much that’s going to cost, and voila I made it just in time to start rounds with Dr. Gonzo.
1) Wait, What?!
In pre-op we met a 12 year old whose attitude was “no clowns!” His mother said he’d watched “IT” too many times (I told her that was on her). I still want to test the waters a touch before complying with the rejection, and Dr. Gonzo’s magic trick turned the kid’s dial from “No Clowns” to “Wait, WHAT!?” ‘That’s right,’ we said, and beat our retreat.
OMG, Dr. Gonzo had a roll of orange streamer paper in his doctor bag today. A most wonderful and colorful way to cause mischief in a room, “trashing” it with “TP.” Fantastic!
3) But Maybe We Do
“You don’t have to visit us,” says a mother, perhaps on account of her child’s significant delays. When I offer a song she perks up and says the child loves music. Usually I need to take care to play quietly, but when Mom informs us the child is half-deaf we adjust the volume. The child loves it, the mother is thrilled and we leave the room enlivened and buzzing.
4) To Juggle or Not to Juggle
When this 11 year old keenly wants to learn how to juggle, we recommend he ball up his (hospital) socks. He didn’t want to because they were dirty, so I start asking after a clean pair, and Dr. Gonzo deftly takes me into the hallway. He notices that because the boy has a Personal Care Attendant -an assigned guardian- that perhaps we should hold off on encouraging the boy to start throwing anything. Dr. Gonzo is right of course, but it did feel unfortunate to not be able to help provide a positive outlet for the kid’s restless energy. This belies the delicacy of our work, and the importance of working with a partner.
5) Play It Again, Be Bopper?
The “frequent fliers” I see most consistently are -not surprisingly- in dialysis. A couple of our buddies there really like music. I have played them my round of primary hits. I really need some other songs now!!
6) When the Chips Go Down
Stopping in a room by special request, we find a robust young patient, eating chips; Boloco tortilla chips. This stoic kid puts Dr. Gonzo and I through our paces with his unflinching exterior; staring us down with his deep brown eyes, all the while methodically crunching his chips. I tease him for keeping his i-Pad handy in case we might bore him, and a little glimmer escapes his tough armor. I am singing about this when Dr. Gonzo turns around, lifts his doctor coat and performs some signature booty shaking. Bingo. Kid is smiling, wincing under the scandal, smirking at this mom. We play around in this zone for a while, tough kid on the outside, cracking up on the inside. “Thank you so much!” says the mom as we leave, “We haven’t had a smile in quite a while!” And that is what we’re here for.
7) BRT (Behavioral Response Team)
Dr. Gonzo leads me past a couple rooms I thought we were going to visit, and points out that the patient in one of them is having an episode and we need to keep clear of the area. “An epileptic episode?” I ask. Well maybe, but since a handful of security guards are arriving on the scene it’s probably more Behavioral. Then I hear the loud, heart rending scree of an 11 year old boy straining under a deep emotional anguish. We clear the area and it hurts to be unable to help in that situation.
8) Sounds of Laughter
Some of the experiences are great because of the sound of the patient’s laughter, and the reaction it has in turn on their caregivers. There was Owen on his belly, bossing us around his room and demanding to inspect Gonzo’s magic trick. And there was Suzanne in the middle of Jenga with her dad. Dr. Gonzo was doing all this clowning while I desperately “tried” to stop him from causing the Jenga tower to collapse. It ultimately did from all the laughter and hullabaloo. As we left she cheerfully started gathering the pieces and said, “You guys are really funny clowns! You made me laugh like a hundred times!” We say our goodbyes, leaving her bed, TV & Dad all TP’d with orange streamers.
9) Quiet Angels
And sometimes it’s quiet, like the very calm boy to whom I started introductions until we realized he was actually asleep with his eyes open. Or the very young boy in a “halo,” lying across his mom and struggling restlessly when we arrived. During the course of our singing and juggling, he settled down and was sitting upright perfectly still and calm for two or three songs, his wide brown eyes ready for the next encore. I would like to have stayed and played to his heart’s content. And off we went.
Saturday, February 24th 2018
At Rise: ClaraJane is following Mommy through through the corridor as they head towards the car, each dressed in the fashion of the FROZEN movie which they are headed to emcee together.
CJ: I love you Mommy I love you so much you’re the Best Mom Ever!
CJ: I wush there were a thousand of you.
Mom: Woah, honey!
CJ: Then I’d have to write 1,000 love notes a day! [Giggles.]
Mom: [Giggles, because what can I say?]
Friday, February 23rd 2018
Gavin began Comedy Clinic this week the same as he did last summer’s, by proclaiming, “I’m not going back!” after the first day. The just as mysteriously as before, he opened up to it throughout the week and was rearing to go for the Student Show on the final day. We hosted a Cast Party afterwards again too, and wouldn’t you know got to know some more awesome families populated by fabulous kids and people. Huzzah!
And congratulations Boy, for this wonderful experience.