A doctor who cares for terminally ill kids began asking them questions to find out what really mattered to them. Parents everywhere should read their answers.
Sometimes it’s hard to write about kids. When we share with you something awful that happened to a child, we always hope it will help another parent or child. This post, while little kids “wrote it,” is so important that all of us need to stop what we’re doing and read it.
It will at once break your heart and fill your heart up with love and hope. We should all commit these things to memory and if we manage to accomplish nothing else in our parenting, let’s do our best to get these things right.
Life Lessons from Terminally Ill Kids
Dr. Alastair McAlpine is a physician with PaedsPal, a non-profit that cares for kids who suffer from life-threatening and life-limiting diseases in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 2018 he tweeted, “For an assignment, I asked some of my terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning. Kids can be so wise, y’know. Here are some of the responses.”
1. More TV and social media were not things they wished they’d had more of.
“NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV NONE said they should’ve spent more time on FaceBook. NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others. NONE enjoyed hospital.”
2. Pets made a definite difference in their lives.
‘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. They worry about their parents more than themselves.
‘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. Everyone loved ice cream and stories.
‘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!’
5. They understood that real friends make everything better.
‘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!’
‘I made big sandcastles!’
‘Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn’t even hurt!’
7. They noticed and appreciated all the kindness surrounding them in their young lives.
‘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’
‘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!’
9. The best toys are the ones that have brought so much magic to their lives.
‘My Princess Sophia doll is my favourite!’
‘I love Batman!’ (All the boys love Batman)
‘I like cuddling my teddy’
10. More than anything in the whole world, they love their families.
‘Mum and dad are the best!’
‘My sister always hugs me tight’
‘No one loves me like mummy loves me!’
For an assignment, I asked some of my terminal pediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning. Kids can be so wise, y’know. Here are some of the responses (Thread).
— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
Ways These Precious Terminally Ill Kids Can Make Us Better Parents
It’s okay to limit TV and technology. In the moment kids may throw a fit and tell you it’s not fair. That’s okay. They won’t look back and wish there had been more TV shows and iPads.
Maybe it’s time to say yes to a pet. Don’t rush out and get the first dog you find at a shelter. Take your time and do as much research as you can to find a pet your family can care for and that suits your lifestyle.
It’s worth reassuring your kids sometimes that you are okay and happy and they don’t need to worry about you. Kids see things through their own little filters and sometimes they worry about you even when you aren’t aware of it.
When in doubt, say yes to the ice cream cone.
Life is too short to live without little things that bring us all joy and ice cream is joy in a cone!
Buy or borrow more books and read them to your children. Parents have a way of bringing books to life for their children. It’s not only good for their brains, but it’s also good for their hearts and souls.
Invite their friends over whenever you have the chance. We are social animals and our kids are social puppies and kittens. Let them have friends over. Become the house where all their friends want to be.
Every child should see the ocean at least once. It’s expensive if you live far away from one, I know. Just keep it in mind if the opportunity ever arises.
Nice people make the world a better place. Teach your kids to be kind and to appreciate the kindness of others.
Giggle and giggle and giggle. Silly jokes, rhymes, stunts, games, and people are the best. Make room in your family life for being goofy.
Toys aren’t as bad as you may think sometimes. Kids don’t need too many choices in toys because they become overwhelmed. But do give them toys they fall in love with.
When your kids tell you they love you, or they want a hug, stop whatever you’re doing and give them that love right back. They’ll never forget how loved you make them feel.
What are your thoughts?
Did you read anything here that hits home for you?
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1 thought on “10 Poignant Life Lessons From Terminally Ill Kids”
I lost a nephew soon after he turned 12. He spent more of his life in hospitals than school. The things you post are not only great advice for parents of children but for others that will not be here as long as we would like. I have lost all my grandparents, parents, siblings and in-law. Most of them needed care for a quite awhile some didn’t . The ones that were older than me and ended up on hospice or finishing there days knowing their days were very short we broke some of the “laws” My mother in law was no longer allowed to eat the food she loved the most and had eaten every day Pinto beans because of the skin so I did the best to get as much of the skin off as I could. She wasn’t going to be here much longer so really what was the deal. My dad passed in the hospital they told me he had to stay in his room. I gave them my cell # if they needed him took off his monitor and we sat for hour our side of the emergancy room, (best place right) he did pass after a few weeks but oh the memories we shared. PRICELESS