ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Childhood Is a Different Country

Some adults magically connect with young people, but others can acquire this skill.

The door of the playroom at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston had a sign saying “Adults not allowed, unless accompanied by a child.” I entered the playroom with Sheena. I had met Sheena a week before in the ward where I was a paediatric resident, two decades ago. She was four years old, with a long-standing kidney disease that required frequent admissions. Every day during my morning round, I had asked politely after her stuffed toy fish and the book she was looking at. After a few days of chatting, she had commanded me to “come play house” with her.

I showed up after the workday was over, a little bemused, wondering what I had signed up for. “Playing house” evolved into a variety of pretend games in the playroom, her sanctuary from needles and other invasions of her little body. I spend a magical hour with her, transforming in an instant from a fireman to a princess. It ended with her examining me with a stethoscope, whacking my knee with a toy knee hammer, and solemnly pronouncing me well enough to go home. As I walked home that evening, it struck me that for the first time I had really gotten to know one of my patients.

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Updated On : 28th Jul, 2017
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