I love kids. Like I super love kids. After spending all day everyday teaching kids, I decided that wasn’t enough kids for me. So I signed up to volunteer with kids.
After months of interviews and trainings and vaccinations and blood tests and more vaccinations and more blood tests (4 months + 2 months of summer break), I became a volunteer at CHEO (The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario).
The great thing about Cheo is that after a long day of dealing with hard headed kids at school, repeatedly telling them to stay off the snow hills, to go back to their desks, to keep their hands to themselves, to put that away, to get to work, to line up, to sit down, to stand up, to get in line, to be quiet, to raise their hands, to hold the ball in the hallways, to get their lunch, to pack up their lunch, to stop talking, to hurry up, to keep their voices down, to walk in the hallways, to lose the attitude, etc…spending 1 on 1 time with kids who genuinely appreciate and benefit from the attention is a relief. It reminds me of why I love kids so much.
Usually, I round up the kiddies to do crafts and play games with them and their siblings in the activity room. It’s a nice distraction for the patients, and me too.
But my favourite part of volunteering is when I get to do cuddles. Sometimes babies don’t have families that care to be with them in the hospital. Sometimes those babies have siblings at home who also need care and attention from mom and/or dad. Sometimes they are up for adoption. Sometimes the parents need a little half hour break. If a baby is alone and awake, as volunteers we get to go in to their rooms to hold and cuddle them.
Usually I find myself broken hearted that life has started so unfairly for them. It’s unfair that they’re hurting and don’t know why. It’s unfair that nurses and doctors are in and out of their rooms all day and all night- it’s never quiet. It’s unfair that they are poked and bruised and stuck with needles and IVs. Mostly, it’s unfair that they’re stuck in a tiny room when they should be playing, laughing and crawling around a home, with a family. Most times, at one point or another during my time cuddling them, I tear up because life is so unfair. When they cry, I feel it too. I know what it feels like to feel so sad, so stuck, so frustrated, like nothing is going right, like no one is on your side. I think, “I feel ya babe;” I feel like I can relate.
In a way I am helping them but in a way they are helping me too.