There is something simple and honest about a child, so that a child’s affection, however brief, makes all of us feel blessed.
Consider including a child when you set out to spend time with your someone, whether chatting, pitching in on a task, or dropping off a gift. No kids of your own? Invite a niece, a nephew, or a friend’s child to accompany you on occasion.
Keep it simple
Managing an event that appeals to someone in crisis as well as to a child can seem impossible. If you wait until you have planned the perfect interaction, it may never happen.
Instead, simply enfold the child into a brief, everyday visit. No adjustment is required, little planning is needed, and the strategy may end up blessing your someone more. Stopping in with a child brings an everyday routine into a world that may not have experienced everyday life lately.
The ordinary presence of children can make the home feel less empty, the nursing home less institutional, or the funeral less final, because…
kids represent… hope.
I was a scout leader for many years, and the girls enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree in our small community nursing home. The residents didn’t want to decorate the tree with us, necessarily. Few were very focused on the holiday symbol coming gradually to life. Instead, residents confessed to me that they were enjoying the girlish chatter — where should I hang this ornament? What are your plans for the weekend? Is your mom picking you up today? The informal family atmosphere brought back memories and made residents feel a part of ordinary life.
My preschooler also came along to events at the nursing home on occasion. Over the hour or so of our visit, I might end up chasing him or repeating my instructions to him, feeling a bit embarrassed. Yet, the residents were tracking the wanderings of the little guy with interest. This scene was familiar. This was them at one time — they may have been the busy parent or maybe they were the busy little explorer in their earliest days. Simply having a child nearby made them feel once again a part of normal family events, because…
kids represent… home.
Whatever course a life has taken, one thing is for sure: All of us were children once. And preteens. And teens.
During difficult times, our minds often travel far into the past, to our younger selves. Of course, there may be some rough memories, but in almost all cases there were moments of wonder and adventure as we encountered our world for the first time.
Bringing children along can prompt memories and give us things to talk about, because…
kids represent… us.
A Successful Visit
Events don’t need to be long and involved. In many cases, long will not work as well. Even for my preteen girls, a 5-minute flag ceremony or a 3-minute visit to each resident’s doorway wearing a “trick or treat” costume was enough — a light load for the girls and a day-brightener for residents to talk about in the weeks ahead.
There are cautions. If a few pointers might help you feel more secure, here’s what I’d watch out for:
- We won’t want kids to seem out of our control, making someone who is frail feel nervous about what might happen next.
- We won’t want our children to interrupt something our someone wants to concentrate on, like trying to play bingo or watch a favorite game show.
- We won’t want visits to be long and exhausting; in fact, keep visits just long enough for the young person to warm up and leave with a smile still in place.
- We won’t need to bring children to visit someone who is already frequently surrounded by busy little ones.
After keeping a few cautions in mind, bringing a child along could make struggling members of our community feel included again, a part of traditions they once enjoyed when they were fit and on top of the world, before they were slowed down by their circumstances.
Preserve the Memories
You don’t need to set up a field trip in order to add kids to a blessing. Another option is to be alert to photo opportunities right around you. Over years of illness, moments memorialized by the camera were an encouragement to my husband that he was a good grandfather.
A picture can be more convincing than 1,000 explanations — undeniable evidence that, despite all the bad days, one’s life continues to have value.
Today, the same photos encourage my grandson that he was loved very much by one of the important men in his life.
Leave Something from the Kids
If no Kodak moments emerge and no visit is realistic, then consider having a child create a simple card, or share one of the many drawings spilling across the family refrigerator and onto your counters.
I have seen a child’s drawing displayed proudly when very little else adorned a convalescent room. I have uncovered a child’s letter preserved in the last little group of a life’s mementos.
Consider working children into the picture in a quick, uncomplicated way.
Blog #11, COMMENT BELOW: Have you been blessed by a child? Have you included children in a blessing that was meaningful?