Why would I drive for an hour for a 10 minute visit
Do you remember the stories your parents told you about how you were as a child? Were you the super shy kid? The young one that likes to do pranks on the older siblings? We all have different experiences, but one thing all our parents do not wish for their children is to be sick. I remember having my share of visits to the pediatrician. My mom was always spot on for my routine checkups and random visits for things that might need attention. Compared to my cousins, I was sick a lot. Besides the normal chicken pox that all kids get, my immune system was not the greatest. My grandma would also tend to me while my mom goes to work. Both are so determined to get me better and are very cautious of what I could do.
Despite all that, I am very very fond of my childhood. My fun times with my cousins, despite me being an only child, I never felt I was alone. We had family traditions that we kids yearly looked forward to. I had my share of being disobedient (it’s part of growing up right?) and plenty of life lessons there for sure. If you’re familiar with my Foodie Drawings, it’s infused my whimsy, imagination, and reminiscing childhood memories. I believe that it’s the nature of childhood innocence that people feel so warmly with it and kids are fond of it.
When I learned about Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and the chance they give the community bring sunshine to their patients via postcards, I looked more into it. I thought to myself, “My foodie drawings would be perfect!!” After contacting the toy/volunteer coordinator, I learned what the hospital policies were and one of the biggest ones were: it has to be laminated, only generic messages (no mention of hospital stay or sickness), and no particular mention of holiday unless it’s one of which the hospital celebrates (due to the diverse patient backgrounds).
It was a sunny and cool, Thursday of March 26th. The drive to Hollywood as usual, traffic, half of it were through the side streets to avoid the LA commuters. But driving through the Dodger Stadium, the hip and cool shops of LA and Hollywood, time flew fast.
I arrived at the hospital at 10:15am, and the hospital’s parking lot was packed! From there, I rode the elevator with families and their kids and babies. The moment we arrived at the lobby, we were greeted by the lovely piano music with sounds of whimsy and fairytale-like, similar to what you’ll hear in a children’s movie. It REALLY put a smile on my face. It was such a sweet surprise. I learned the guy playing was a volunteer and the next volunteer will be playing the guitar. The lobby was colorful, the check-in line of the front desk was a drawn caterpillar. The vibe was definitely not like a normal hospital.
CHLA celebrates the beginning of Spring with a toy and a car distributed to their patients. So I chose this bright, yellow, spring-inspired foodie/mixed media drawing. My thought was hopefully the kids would find the card fun, happy, and inspiring to get their imagination going. Spring is usually associated with Spring Break, Easter, and vacation. And the patients at CHLA and every sick children in this world, won’t fully enjoy the fun in the sun, or the tradition of Easter such as the egg hunt, or the travels to different places to make new memories with their family. It was important for me to bring a few seconds of happy thoughts for these kids who are spending a chunk of their childhood at a hospital. I had a great childhood. And I know it is important to let kids be kids and let them enjoy it fully. Childhood eventually ceases because by nature we evolve and our desire to grow never stops. Every child is entitled to their own. By providing the simple gesture of a postcard, I hope to put a smile on their sweet faces. And to forget the tubes and tests connected to them. Forget the lack of greenery, nature, and fresh air inside the hospital. And to sprinkle a little something to look forward to once they are all well and ready to reclaim their childhood again.
If you’d like to partake in making some kids smile, check out your local children’s hospitals. That and so many other organizations provide opportunities for their community to give back. Let the child in you shine again!