If you’re a parent, you’re going to want to read this pediatrician’s Twitter thread
A pediatrician recently completed an assignment where he asked kids with terminal illnesses what gives their lives meaning. What they truly enjoy, what brings them comfort. Be warned, their answers will have you reaching for a box of tissues and burst your heart wide open.
Dr. Alastair McAlpine, a palliative pediatrician from Cape Town, South Africa, shared the results of his assignment on Twitter. Knowing better than anyone how valuable the lessons given by children are, McAlpine decided we could all benefit from their wisdom.
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 (Thread).
— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
First:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
NONE said they wished they'd watched more TV
NONE said they should've spent more time on Face Book
NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others
NONE enjoyed hospital
As you may expect, what really matters to kids most is time spent with loved ones — mom, dad, siblings, and cherished pets.
MANY mentioned their pets:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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.'
MANY mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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'
ALL of them loved ice-cream.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
What’s also noteworthy about the things these children say they most enjoy is how they spent time with their families and friends — reading stories, building sandcastles at the beach, and doing things that kept their mind off being sick.
ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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!'
Folks, read to your kids! They love it. /5
MANY wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them 'normally'.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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!' /6
Many of them loved swimming, and the beach.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'I made big sandcastles!'
'Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn't even hurt!' /7
Another meaningful component of life? How the people they love make them feel.
Almost ALL of them valued kindness above most other virtues:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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' /8
Almost ALL of them loved people who made them laugh:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'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!'
Laughter relieves pain. /9
Kids love their toys, and their superheroes.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'My Princess Sophia doll is my favourite!'
'I love Batman!' (All the boys love Batman)
'I like cuddling my teddy' /10
Finally, they ALL valued time with their family. Nothing was more important.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
'Mum and dad are the best!'
'My sister always hugs me tight'
'No one loves me like mummy loves me!' /11
Sometimes, the best family moments are the ones that seem completely ordinary. As long as kids are surrounded by the people they love the most, they feel loved. And that’s what we all remember at the end of the day.
It sometimes seems like our current generation of parents is always trying to go above and beyond. We are consumed with giving our children all the extras we weren’t able to experience as kids: expensive Disney vacations, blowout birthday parties, the latest high-tech gadgets. And being able to provide those things feels great, no doubt.
But those things — while amazing, to be sure — aren’t what gives life true meaning. Not to kids, anyway.
Playing in the yard with their dogs, snuggling on the couch with Mom, going on a hike with Dad, sharing a giggle with their sister in the backseat of the car — these are the moments that give our kids the sense of security, stability, and love that gives them something to grasp onto when life offers the crappiest circumstances imaginable.
Take home message:— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.
These are the things these kids wished they could've done more. The rest is details.
Oh... and eat ice-cream. /End
“I was inspired to share the thread because there was so much negativity on my timeline,” McAlpine tells Scary Mommy. “My brave patients were countering it all with such beautiful and profound insights, that they immediately brightened my day, and I hoped that they would do the same for others.”