“Sing it with me: brown bear, red bird, green frog,” sings music volunteer Stacy Frank to six-year-old Payton who happily joins in.
“It was so cute. It was too sweet!” says Payton’s mom, Kristin. “Stacy played a few songs and they played instruments together. Then they were talking about another song they could sing, so Payton showed her a book that he had just read.”
Stacy says, “We can make this into a song.”
So she starts singing the words from the classic kid’s book, and Payton follows her lead.
“This moment was touching for me as a parent to witness,” says Kristin. “He forgot that he was in the hospital and was just a kid learning the joy that music can bring.”
It was equally as touching for Stacy, who recently retired after 30 years as a school psychologist. “When I’m in the room with a parent and the children, there are such beautiful moments that occur,” says Stacy. “My heart bursts open and I feel like I’m healing them and giving them a chance for them to feel less pain.”
Payton has been a patient at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital since his first surgery at just three months old. He was born with craniosynostosis (the bones in a baby’s skull join too early) and he recently developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) just last year, which has caused him to be in and out of the hospital for the past 12 months. It can be a lot of time and traveling for the family who lives in Highlands County, about an hour and a half away.
“But it’s okay -- this is where the best care is,” says Kristin. “Payton is old enough to remember his hospital stays, surgeries, appointments and at times the pain of what he has been through. I also know he will remember the special times he shared with all of the volunteers like Stacy that went out of their way to make him feel special.”
As the duo’s musical masterpiece comes to a close, they end it with a bang.
“The lion is the king of the jungle, his roar is loud and he’s proud of his big furry mane. Let me hear you say, ‘Roar!’” says Stacy to Payton.
“Roarrrrr,” they sing together with big smiles. A big roar from one very brave boy.