A gentle approach

31.July 2019

A gentle approach

It is 11 o'clock, Lotte and me, Tiloff, started our clown visits at the neurologic and psychiatric ward for children, at Klagenfurt’s hospital. These visits are very special to us because the children here are severely ill. Many of them are imprisoned in themselves, critically depressed and show little to no reactions. Our task is to open this protective armor with gentle and sensitive encounters and to give them some loving, invigorating attention. It is a challenge but this is exactly why we enjoy it so much. Here, a small success is actually a huge success.

Today we started our round visits with Sarah. We gently knocked on her door but we got no answer. We knocked again. Still no answer. Carefully, we opened the heavy door and we saw Sarah, 8-year-old, immersed in her drawings.

My clown partner Lotte and me, looked at each other and agreed that we should enter the room very slowly, continuously checking if we were welcomed. Sarah looked up for a moment, and then looked back to her drawing. We scurry into the room.

We knew we needed to be very careful and sensitive to become part of Sarah's world. Before I put down my suitcase, Lotte had already pulled out a small dustpan from her purse and started brushing me: "Look, Tiloff, how many worries you have on your body, that's terrible!" She whispered to me. "One worry, two worries, three worries", as she counted, she brushed my shoulder down the small shovel. Then I felt the brush on my head, on my nose, on my stomach. Sarah watched us curiously. We got her attention!

Lotte looked into her purse again, pulled out a large handkerchief, a necklace with flowers, another handkerchief and a bunny with a wind-up mechanism...

"There! There it is!" said Lotte. Sarah saw the bunny and reached to grab it. "I got it", she said softly. We were happy because we got another connection with Sarah.

Sarah looked at my suitcase and asked, "Is this a piano?". I picked up my pianica (Melodica) and said: "It is a melodeon" and blew gently into the hose. The instrument sounded like a breezy waltz, and Lotte just had to dance to it. Sarah watched us attentively. Lotte reached out for Sarah’s hands and took her for a dance. They were dancing!

After some minutes, Lotte was out of breath so she had to sit down for a moment. Then she picked up her bag and pulled out a magic wand, swinging it over the bag and shouting, "Hocus-pocus, a red nose for Sarah must appear!" She proudly showed the bag to Sarah who put her hands inside, but the bag was empty. "Oops, let’s try again." Lotte repeated the spell, but the bag remained empty. Lotte stopped and looked at me: "Oh dear! Tiloff, it's not me!” Desperately seeking for help, she looked at Sarah. "Sarah, I need your help. Maybe you can do magic better than me! ". Sarah repeated the spell after Lotte and she finally managed to make a red nose appear.

That day we all did some magic. Sarah made a red nose appear and we made Sarah laugh and dance.

Christian Hölbling (aka clown Tiloff)