I soon became concerned about the children in our family who were caught up in all of this, too. Most of them lived far away, or if nearby, were home where they were listening.
Kids are pretty savvy at putting things together.
Overhearing details as the adults talked one on one…or during phone conversations. They would see grown ups lament…often in tears.
I’m sure they were pretty frightened.
The realization fell over me as I went out into the waiting room to fill a cup with ice and water, or walk out there to do this or that. The waiting area was often filled with children because it was summer and they had nowhere else to go when parents came to the ICU to visit loved ones.
Taking care of things far too grown up for little one’s to have to experience.
It was hard for me to see these children waiting. Some of them there for long stretches of time…a full day…some slept on the floor overnight. They were bored. Often to tears. How many pictures could be colored or games could be played and that blasted TV was forever stuck on Dora the Explorer.
I swear I heard her sing, “Let’s go! Jump in! Vomanos! You can lead the way! Hey, hey, hey…” more times than I could count.
I would gladly go if I could, Dora. Let me grab my backpack and let’s you, me, and Boots get out of here. Far, far away from here.
If I felt that way, imagine how every child in that waiting room felt.
Seeing this made me even more concerned about my own little ones. How were they doing? What were their little brains interpreting? How were they coping?
I wanted to think of a way to connect with them. So in my mind I sat down in my thinking chair.
I could do ANYTHING that I want to do…
At least I heard that playing when Blue gave Dora a rest on that waiting room TV.
Not ANYTHING, silly Blue. I’m trying, but I can’t think my son on his feet. I can’t even think him to open his eyes.
But I could think of a way to tie all of us together.
What one universal thing did all children relate to? What one thing could I do that would lighten the load…ease this journey a little? Connect us all.
It wasn’t hard to think of it, really.
I knew of something that all kids loved and that one thing drove me absolutely insane at times when my children were younger and fixated on chapters upon chapters of them…with laughing and teasing and the constant pleas for just one more.
Jokes. Riddles. Knock-knocks.
So I took out my trusty phone and Googled. In a blink, up popped sites with jokes for kids…tons of them. I didn’t need to think hardly at all.
See, Blue, we can do just about anything…
And with the idea in mind that almost every child had a phone of their own (oh, seriously! how times have changed!) or access to their parent’s phone, I started texting one joke at a time.
Waiting for them to respond.
After a few rusty attempts, we all finally decided to enjoy it. Once or twice a day (for a few days, anyway) I would text a new riddle.
They would text back an answer…or make up a joke of their own.
I scribbled several down (in my handy-dandy notebook)…
…and when I would talk to them on the phone…when they would ask how things were and we struggled to find words…when I thought they needed some kind of reprieve, I’d ask…
-What does a nosy pepper do?
pause, pause, w-a-i-t….
Wait for it….
*Gets jalapeño business!
I’d stand close to my son’s side. Put the phone on speaker. Let him hear the guessing and the laughing and me slapping my leg. Exaggerating it all…making it a big deal.
It wasn’t long before I would ask and tease the nurses, the doctors, and anyone who would come in earshot. I’d string them along (just once in awhile…I did not want to become an irritant!) and after more than enough guesses, I would finally answer. All of us laughing.
Mostly because it was funny.
More than that because it was necessary.
Just for a minute or two.
As we all laughed and some smirked and the silliness gave a break to the seriousness…I remember looking over at my sleeping beauty of a boy…
Knock, knock, Son…
In my mind I could hear him answer as clear as a bell…
Aw, Mom…OK…who’s there?
It’s me, Son! It’s time to wake up, now. Please wake up now…