11 Life Lessons From Terminally Ill Kids
31st May 2018
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It's a powerful message, whether your children are well or ill, about what really matters to them – and to us. The rest, as Dr McAlpine reminds us, is just details.
Parenting is made up of a series of small moments, this is true.
It's very easy to get caught up in the tedious small things: complaining about messy bedrooms, telling the kids off for leaving a toy on the table, or worrying about whether they've done their homework well enough.
We all do it, it's normal. But every now and then it's important to stop and think about the bigger picture.
One paediatrician, South African Dr Alastair McAlpine, has taken to Twitter to urge us parents to remember the big picture, to consider what's really important. And he's doing so through the most extraordinary thread of tweets you'll find on the topic of parenting.
Dr McAlpine begins the thread by saying he spoke with some of his terminally ill paediatric palliative care patients about what they've enjoyed in life, and what's given their life meaning.
He then goes on to share the 11 beautiful lessons these children have to share with us.
(Warning: grab a few tissues before reading on.)
1. THE THINGS THAT DON'T MATTER
NONE said they wished they'd watched more TV
NONE said they should've spent more time on Face Book
NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others
NONE enjoyed hospital
2. PETS ARE HAPPINESS
MANY mentioned their pets:
'I love Rufus, his funny bark makes me laugh.'
'I love when Ginny snuggles up to me at night and purrs'
'I was happiest riding Jake on the beach.'
3. KIDS WANT THEIR PARENTS TO BE OKAY
MANY mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern:
'Hope mum will be ok. She seems sad.'
'Dad mustn't worry. He'll see me again soon.'
'God will take care of my mum and dad when I'm gone'
4. WHEN IN DOUBT, EAT ICE-CREAM
ALL of them loved ice-cream.
5. READ BOOKS TOGETHER
ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents:
'Harry Potter made me feel brave.'
'I love stories in space!'
'I want to be a great detective like Sherlock Holmes when I'm better!'
Folks, read to your kids! They love it.
Do not count the days; make the days count!
6. DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK
MANY wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them 'normally'.
'My real friends didn't care when my hair fell out.'
'Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn't even notice the scar!'
7. KIDS LOVE WATER
Many of them loved swimming, and the beach.
'I made big sandcastles!'
'Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn't even hurt!'
8. CHOOSE KINDNESS
Almost ALL of them valued kindness above most other virtues:
'My granny is so kind to me. She always makes me smile.'
'Jonny gave me half his sandwich when I didn't eat mine. That was nice.'
'I like it when that kind nurse is here. She's gentle. And it hurts less'
9. LAUGHTER MAKES THE WORLD GO 'ROUND
Almost ALL of them loved people who made them laugh:
'That magician is so silly! His pants fell down and I couldn't stop laughing!'
'My daddy pulls funny faces which I just love!'
'The boy in the next bed farted! Hahaha!'
Laughter relieves pain.
10. TOYS AND SUPERHEROES RULE
Kids love their toys, and their superheroes.
'My Princess Sophia doll is my favourite!'
'I love Batman!' (All the boys love Batman)
'I like cuddling my teddy'
11. FAMILY IS EVERYTHING
Finally, they ALL valued time with their family. Nothing was more important.
'Mum and dad are the best!'
'My sister always hugs me tight'
'No one loves me like mummy loves me!'
If you can still see the screen through the haze of tears in your eyes, Dr McAlpine then sums up his findings with one final lesson for us parents -
Take home message:
Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.
These are the things these kids wished they could've done more. The rest is details.
Oh... and eat ice-cream.
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Life is full of twists and turns. Planning and gathering together all these jigsaw pieces now will relieve a lot of stress later. Whether you’re recovering from surgery, involved in an accident, or embarking on the one adventure every human must eventually take into the great beyond. This info will come in handy for you in every day life, your family and loved ones. By organising and sharing the location of all these things you’re helping yourself to become more efficient, engaged in your life and your family can easily take over if needed.
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