I met a returning family in the lobby the other day. The mother was holding a wide-eyed eight-month-old boy, whose teen-age sister had been re-admitted for treatment. As I bantered with her son, the woman casually reflected, “I think he’ll start crawling while we’re here this time.”
The off-hand remark made me wonder how many childhood “firsts” are observed here? My second grandson recently started smiling— much to the delight of his parents (and grandparents). That developmental milestone generally occurs six-eight weeks after birth. So, from an actuarial standpoint, eight current families will likely witness their child’s first smile while they’re staying at our Ronald McDonald Houses.
I recall a letter from a mother several years ago. “It was here,” she wrote,
“that (my son) learned about toys and television and lying on carpets and eating oatmeal. It was here that he learned of the circus and giggling, and here that he experienced so many people who held him and loved him without invading his body with agendas that were hidden to him.”
We tend to focus so much on the medical ups and downs of our guests that we sometimes fail to appreciate the normal but no less significant passages in the lives of not only the ill and injured children, but their siblings as well. It’s nice to be reminded that, within our walls, joyful and memorable events occur daily—for ill and healthy kids alike.
That’s certainly something to smile about!
Tom Soma, Executive Director