A Mouse Helps Teach Magic
We have been requested to come to the Oncology floor for a special visit for an event recognizing the Aurora Summer Day Camp for kids with blood disorders. As the elevator doors open onto the waiting room we are presented with a scene of brightly colored circus themed games and craft projects. All present greet us with oohs and ahs except for one little girl who bolts to the back of the hall. Hmm we’ve seen that reaction before, “clown fear”. Dr Dookickey and I take note of her reaction and continue playing with the other kids present. At one point two little bird heads pop out of Doohickeys’ breast pocket to the delight of the little ones in front of him. I follow the offer with a puppet of my own “Andre” the mouse, who has resided in my pocket since the first years of this work. In moments the fearful child is at my side examining the mouse.
"Avia" is 7 years old, hairless, and slight but very energetic and intensely curious. She is quite smitten with Andre and after introductions and a bit of conversation she asks “How does he work?” A lot of our kids see him as an actual mouse but Alivia recognizes him for the puppet he is, and is even more interested in him. I might add she is also oblivious to the clown she was fearful of moments before. I tell her it’s kind of a secret so let’s step aside so I can let her in on it. I open my lab coat to show her the piece of coaxial bike cable that is his control for his head. I twist the knob on the bottom and his head swivels right and left. I push the knob up and he nods. She tries it and giggles as he obeys her commands. Very soon she is almost inside my lab coat controlling the mouse and as I try to back up a bit she says “Show me another trick”. I look over to see Doohickey still engaged with kids at the coloring table so I ask if she’d like to see a magic trick. A vigorous shake of her head and I am showing her a sponge ball routine. Again “How does it work?” Now we are even more conspiratorial.
I do the trick several times slowing down further each time. Then I stand behind her with my hands in front of her and show her the trick from my side and she gets it. I go over to the table of camp circus supplies and grab a handy sponge ball exactly like the one I’ve been using. I hand it to her and tell her that the only thing left to do is practice. She does the moves a few times and clearly has the trick but the ball is too big for her 7 year old hands. I borrow a scissors from the nurses station and carve it down to less than half the size. Once the ball fits her hand she becomes a “Avia the great”. she really has it. Our contact from the hospital walks up and is astounded. Avia’s mom joins us, does a double take and then says she and is actually not that surprised she knows her girl. As much as I’d like to take credit; she is clearly a natural.
Two hours later we see Avia and her mom in the hallway by the library. Without a word Alivia presents the ball, vanishes it, and magically produces it from her sleeve, as well as any pro I know. Mom says she has been doing the trick for everyone who comes near her, all day long.
She leans over to me and says she likes clowns now and OK Dokey best of all.