The first year I worked as a Child Life Specialist, I worked in the playroom covering most of the sessions. With that I knew almost every kid that walked through the doors, I really was known as the "Play Lady" and I was totally OK with that. I often had a group of teens come by late in the session and do what teens do, socialize and hang out. I knew that a few of them were nearing the end of their lives. But I just let it roll and tried to pretend it wasn't really happening, because honestly I had no idea what to do when it did happen.
Then one day, my co-worker came to me and said, we are getting close for our friend. I just looked at her and said, "I don't know what to do," she said "follow me" and we went to his room. She walked in with confidence and I stood in the doorway hoping that the family didn't see me shaking. She looked at me and gently took my elbow and said, "we just sit". OK, I can sit.
Spending time with a child at the end of their life, was not something I ever thought I would do when I decided long ago to dedicate my life to working with children. But now I know it's part of the package and I can handle it.
I can handle it because I had help, I can handle it because a Child Life Specialist before me knew what to do, I can handle it because since then I have had the same talk with Child Life Specialists who came after me.
It means more than you know to be a part of a team. It means more than you know to have a group of colleagues who "get it" when you give them that one look. It means more than you know to have work partners who find humor in the most ridiculous and sometime inappropriate times. They are quite a crew in a dysfunctional family kind of way......and I wouldn't trade that for anything!
Happy Child Life Month to to all!