Yesterday I did something that I found exceedingly difficult and at the same time enormously rewarding. I was invited to bring the Magic Planet to the Dell Children's Hospital. They had organized a "Summer Camp" in the hospital to give the kids an opportunity to think about something else, and to pull them out of their environment.
I was very excited to go, but I also was dreading it. I love kids, and to see children in heartbreaking situations is just very difficult to deal with. So, surrounded by about 15 children, some of them hooked to IV's and other machines, we had "Summer Camp" around a make-believe campfire, that some volunteers had thrown together from some colored paper and colored plastic and a hidden flashlight. Blankets on the floor, and even one tent. Yes, three kids fit in the tent, and they did not seem hampered at all by the fact that they were still connected by IV lines. They even managed to close the tent. :-)
So, then after the story teller was done, it was my turn, and for about 45 minutes I was able to bring smiles to these young faces. We saw the Earth with and without clouds, flew to Jupiter and Venus, and eventually flew back home. At one point pointing to Texas at the globe and saying "This is home!", at which a badly burned boy wearing a face mask, exclaimed "I am not home". For some reason that was hilarious to everyone, including his mom and himself.
But I cried when I came home.
The good thing though, other than a lesson in life for me, was that I was able to let these kids think about something else than their surroundings and situation. That makes it all worth it, and I am very happy to say that the Austin Planetarium will do this at the Dell Children's Hospital on a much more regular basis.