It was late in the afternoon and Dr. Bounce and I were making rounds on the 4th floor of the hospital, where the patients were mostly infants.
We had finished checking in with the charge nurse, who said most of the patients were asleep. So we walked down the corridor checking the rooms. In one, I noticed one toddler in his crib, laying quietly on his side and just staring out into the hall.
We looked around. No parent or guardian. No hanging thingy mobile. No TV soundtrack. He was just staring, and he looked bored. But he didn’t look uncomfortable.
I looked at Bounce and said, “Let’s sing him a lullaby.”
We stood at the door. Dr. Bounce stands about 6-foot-6, yet when he crouches down he is only 3-foot-8.He proceeded to blow some bubbles very slowly. One breath at a time, watching each float downward until it disappeared. While he did that, I played a simple rhythm on the guitar.
The little boy, Dr. Bounce and I were all mesmerized by each and every bubble. It was as if we were being hypnotized, just watching each bubble float until it hit a hard surface and popped. From the crib, there was no change in facial expression, no smile, no reaching to pop a bubble. But the eyes followed the path of each watery sphere.
We stayed in this space for what seemed a long time but I am sure it was only a few minutes.
I played the music softer and slower and Dr. Bounce blew fewer bubbles. Sometimes when we do this, the child will cry because he wants more. But this boy didn’t do that. As we were slowly backing out his door, we saw him slowly clap his hands together about four times.
Instantly, both Dr. Bounce and I teared up. “That’s the way to do it!” I told him.
We hospital clowns often hear people say, “They’re too little for clowns.” This is because most people don’t know the spectrum of entertainment we can provide, the knowledge we have about the different stages of child development, and our finely honed ability to read the emotional temperature of a sick room.
When administered properly, bubbles and lullabies can work magic.