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On My Mind
September 01, 2008

A Dad Looks Up

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(9):813. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.9.813

Walking in, you might be fooled by them; they look so strangely jovial, and you can miss a lot when you are preoccupied. Balloons fill the reception desk, waiting to be delivered to rooms. Photographs and drawings of happy children smile out at you from cheerfully painted walls, reminders of hope that seems just out of reach. In the lobby of the children's hospital, hope is often obscured by an eclipse of fear. This is a place defined by worry of the abnormal, except when kids get to go home, and they have to come through here to get home. That is what everybody wants—kids, parents, the doctors and nurses—urging children to health through medicine and sheer force of will. The lobby has only 2 kinds of kids: the ones who are in and the ones who are going home. There are kids rolling by in hospital-issued wheelchairs wearing masks that cover pale faces on bald heads: they are in. You can recognize the ones going home by the entourage of balloons trailing behind them. Home is where kids should be, not this big house filled with pain. The balloons know this better than anyone. They are a part of it all, responding to every feature.

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