Every year, we host a “Parents’ Morning Out” here at Kid’s Creek. The event is typically held during the Christmas season, and we do it for several reasons. We know it’s hard to get anything done around the holidays when you have kids, and it can be even more challenging when one of your kids has special needs. Parents’ Morning Out gives our parents a chance to do some holiday shopping (or socializing) without kids in tow. We are thankful for our patients and their parents and this event is a way we can show our appreciation. But Parents’ Morning Out isn’t just for the parents – it’s for the kids, as well. We want our patients to have fun with other people, kids and adults, who understand them – outside of therapy.
When I plan this event each year (with the help of many other people), I always think to myself, “This is so great for the parents.” But I find that when I’m actually participating in the event, my perspective changes. I get to see the kids’ faces light up with joy at getting to “just play” with one another.
I realize that this event is really for the kids. They get to play and be “normal” with people who understand them and accept – even appreciate – the ways they are unique and different. The kids are challenged in a way that they can enjoy, and we really get to see them come out of their shell. It breaks my heart when I hear parents say that their children don’t have friends and don’t have a place to go to have fun. We love getting to provide an opportunity for them to experience something with other kids.
As much as we love our patients and have fun with them during clinic sessions, therapy just isn’t the same environment as Parents’ Morning Out. We learned new things about kids that we wouldn’t have ever known otherwise. Connor is a hula hoop master that was able to use four hula hoops at once and catch and throw the ball! Sydney loved the idea that it was snowing during our snowball fight. Nicholas wanted to bowl and turned out to have a pretty good shot. We learned there is such a thing as too much fun and sometimes you just need a break!
It always takes me a few minutes to get over my anxiety of running this event and really get to enjoy the interaction of the kids. After I know that all of the kids are in the right place and that the volunteers have everything that they need in order for the day to be successful, I get to peek into each of the rooms and see what’s going on. I expect to see the kids having fun, but I also watch the volunteers having fun, too. Of course, this event would not have been possible without the volunteers. We had wonderful volunteers from therapists in the clinic to friends of the therapists.
So I find myself thinking about Parents’ Morning Out now, after the event, and wondering… Whose morning out was it, anyway? I suspect the parents, the kids, and the volunteers – if asked that question – would all say, “Mine!”
Jessie Nelson Willis, M.Ed., CCC-SLP