A Pediatrician asked terminal kids what they enjoyed about life. Here are their answers.
Beautiful life advice, no matter how old you are.
Pediatrician Alastair McAlpine gave some of his terminal patients an assignment. What they told him can inspire us all.
"Kids can be so wise, y'know," the Cape Town doctor and ultra-marathon enthusiast posted to his Twitter account. He asked the young patients, short on time, about the things that really mattered to them.
What followed was a string of life advice that'll make you want to be a better person, no matter how old you are.
\u201cFor an assignment, I asked some of my terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning. Kids can be so wise, y'know. Here are some of the responses (Thread).\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
First, it's worth looking at what wasn't important to these kids.
"NONE said they wished they'd watched more TV. NONE said they should've spent more time on Facebook. NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others. NONE enjoyed [the] hospital," tweeted McAlpine.
\u201cFirst: \nNONE said they wished they'd watched more TV \nNONE said they should've spent more time on Face Book\nNONE said they enjoyed fighting with others\nNONE enjoyed hospital \n/1\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
Many talked about the people and animals who would miss them when they were gone.
"I love Rufus," one child told McAlpine about their dog. "His funny bark makes me laugh." Others worried about whether their parents would be OK.
\u201cMANY mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern:\n'Hope mum will be ok. She seems sad.'\n'Dad mustn't worry. He'll see me again soon.'\n'God will take care of my mum and dad when I'm gone'\n/3\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
\u201cALL of them loved ice-cream.\n/4\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
They all loved stories, and many wish they'd spent less time and energy worrying about what others thought about them.
"ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents," wrote McAlpine, who then shared a couple short anecdotes about Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, and literary adventures in space.
They also understood that people who treat you differently for superficial reasons, like your hair or a surgery scar, aren't worth worrying about.
\u201cMANY wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them 'normally'.\n'My real friends didn't care when my hair fell out.'\n'Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn't even notice the scar!' /6\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
What was important was having fun, being kind, and holding on to their sense of humor.
These kids loved swimming and playing on the beach, and they valued others who extended kindness to them along the way. "I like it when that kind nurse is here," one patient told McAlpine. "She's gentle. And it hurts less."
\u201cAlmost ALL of them valued kindness above most other virtues:\n'My granny is so kind to me. She always makes me smile.'\n'Jonny gave me half his sandwich when I didn't eat mine. That was nice.'\n'I like it when that kind nurse is here. She's gentle. And it hurts less' /8\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
\u201cAlmost ALL of them loved people who made them laugh:\n'That magician is so silly! His pants fell down and I couldn't stop laughing!'\n'My daddy pulls funny faces which I just love!'\n'The boy in the next bed farted! Hahaha!'\n\nLaughter relieves pain. /9\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
Above all, they cherished their families (and favorite toys).
"They ALL valued time with their family," said McAlpine. "Nothing was more important."
\u201cFinally, they ALL valued time with their family. Nothing was more important. \n'Mum and dad are the best!'\n'My sister always hugs me tight'\n'No one loves me like mummy loves me!' /11\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
There's a lot we can learn from these kids — and it's incredibly easy to incorporate their lessons into our lives.
There are seven simple takeaways (well, eight if you count "eat ice cream"):
"Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them."
Easy enough, right?
\u201cTake home message:\nBe kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.\n\nThese are the things these kids wished they could've done more. The rest is details.\n\nOh... and eat ice-cream. /End\u201d— Alastair McAlpine, MD (@Alastair McAlpine, MD) 1517476673
This article was originally published on December 12, 2022