A few notable moments from my most recent day clowning at The Children’s Hospital Piedmont in Columbus, Georgia, with dr. tiny, aka Ron Anglin. Ron is doing an excellent job of organizing and maintaining our clown presents in Columbia. Thanks for his work during the pandemic, we are still hospital clowns.
After doing our check-in with the nurses, we went to our first room. Inside the room was a mother and a two-year-old boy. This young boy was full of toddler energy. He was standing on the bed, jumping up and down as his mother tried to get him to sit. As dr. tiny and I walked into the room Mom looked at us with a sense of expectation and curiosity. She was trying to calm her son. She was not succeeding. dr. tiny pulled out his bubble wand and waved it through the air creating bubbles in front of the child. The bubbles lingered over the child’s head and slowly came closer to the child. Some bubbles were big, others small. I had a ukulele with me. I started to play gentle, soothing music. As we did this, the young boy slowly began to calm down. He went from jumping up and down on his bed to sitting down. He watched the bubbles with his eyes, and he began to gently rock back and forth to the rhythm of the music. Eventually, he slowly reached out his hand and began to touch the bubbles. We glanced over at mom and noticed that she, too, had become calmer. She watched us, and then she looked at her child playing with the bubbles and listening to the music. She looked at us and said, “Well, that’s the sound of peace.”
Later, we walked into another room in the Emergency Department. The nurses told us the patient was a teenage boy at the ED because he was in an auto accident. He was lying in bed flat on his back. He could not sit up because of his injuries. However, he could raise his head to see us as we entered the room with enough effort. He saw the ukulele we were carrying. He said, “Play me a song.” This is great. It’s terific when the patient tells you exactly what they want. He looked up again from his back and said, “Play Rudolph, the red nose reindeer.” OK… this was a strange choice. The heat and the humidity outside the hospital reminded us that it is August in Georgia. But the patient was clear. Maybe that song makes him think of cooler weather. At this point, I know what to do. I told dr. tiny and the young patient that Rudolph, the red nose reindeer, is one of the songs I know well.
I quickly tuned my instrument, cleared my voice, and began to sing. “Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way…”. The patient and Dr. tiny stopped me and told me I was playing the wrong song. I apologized. The patient once again said, “Play Rudolph the red nose reindeer!” I said, “Got it, You want to hear Rudolph, the red nose reindeer.” I started to sing, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly Fa la la la la, la la la la….”
This time, the patient looked up again with a look of confusion that turned into a slight chuckle. With a smile, he said, “Play Rudolph the red nose reindeer.” Dr. Tiny looked at me and said, “you’re starting to embarrass us.” I glanced at dr. tiny, then the patient. I apologized again for getting it wrong. OK, I said—Rudolph the red nose reindeer. I began to sing again, “Just hear those sleighbells wriggling Jing-Jing jingling…” this time, he raised his head even higher. He looked me in the eye with a big smile and said, “Get Out!” Hearing that, I quickly remembered the lyrics and music to Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer, which I started to sing. As dr. tiny and I sang the song, the patient sang along and chuckled more. Then he said, “that was a good one”!
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