“I’m scared,” Quinnlin said nearly three years ago, when she learned the date of her kidney transplant. She’d seen her brother go through kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplant. She had witnessed him go through life-saving surgeries and had seen the emotional fallout and the impact of those experiences, so it was an easy decision for her parents to start Quinnlin in play therapy.
Play therapy is geared towards children going through trauma, and Quinnlin was excited to “play” in the room. She worked through a lot of her fears about kidney transplant and the therapist guided her through play in a safe environment that would let her talk about the scary things she was facing. The process of play therapy allowed Quinnlin to talk to her parents too.
Play therapy has evolved for Quinnlin. This past summer when someone heard her talking asked her where she was from, mistaking her speech issues for an accent, she got upset when the woman couldn’t understand her answer (“I’m from right here!”) and she waved her fist at the woman. The woman proceeded to tell her and everyone around her that she was sure a “kid like that” would grow up to be a criminal, citing her lack of respect for adults. In play therapy, Quinnlin worked through how hurt she felt, discussed the “invisible” disability that so many people have and how next time handling the situation differently was a move in a positive direction.
Since the first post about Champerina, Quinnlin has had multiple doctor appointments, nearly two weeks out of school for illnesses, three ER visits and several lab visits for blood draws with Champerina. That’s a lot to deal with for anyone but for a child there’s so much to deal with about having to endure so much medical intervention. A lot of the discussions with her current play therapist, Leigh Harris (just about to confirm her Masters and L.A.P.C), have to do with Quinnlin’s emotions. Is she happy, sad, scared or mad, and what are the reasons she feels those emotions? Champerina helps make those hard discussions easier and has gone to therapy with Quinnlin. Having a friend with you when you’re talking about the hard stuff helps, and in play therapy the friend can do the “talking” for you.
Being different can be hard for anyone, especially a child coming into her own. Quinnlin is at an age (10) where she is noticing her differences more and so are other people. She’s learning how to deal with that so she stands up for herself; learning how to communicate with people who treat her badly or have something to say about her differences.
To Quinnlin, Champerina is the friend who always supports, listens and is there when is needed, through the good and bad (and ugly). For a child with special needs the friendship of a bear like Champerina can make getting through the rough spots a little bit easier and that is certainly true for Quinnlin.
Champerina’s friendship never fails.
- Julia Roberts, Quinnlin and Champerina’s mom