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While setting up, I had a brief interaction with a bored 15 month on the corridor with his dad. His dad didn`t think drawing would work for him so I attempted to show him some other children`s work on the `Vado` which became a button pressing / reaction game which he enjoyed. He even made a little film which I don`t think he realised but I enjoyed! He has got to be my youngest film maker yet. Then I tickled his feet and went about my business, and he his. My first stop was as usual the long term patient (3 years) for whom I had prepared a special video edit of his work over the ten weeks placed in the framework of the magic bus story. He watched it about half way through (it is 10 mins long, too long it seems!) and then declared it time to make another santa, a pink one this time, smoking a golden pipe. Soon we moved back into our serial hospital game played with lollypop stick characters, but today although everyone was keen on sliding down the snowy pillow again, no-one hurt themselves and the hospital remained empty, save for santa, served spaghetti hoops by a member of the support staff that often bakes with the patient. The nurses and doctors were able to hang out in the station and talk about what they did over the weekend, going out every now and again (and again) for a slide down the snowy pillow. During all of this the very silent little girl who was sharing his room (6 years) had come closer and closer, so I attempted to involve her. I suggested the three year old prepare some food for a christmas party (as I had a web appointment for one coming up), giving him paper lids as plates and lots of cutting up to do, and started to work with the new patient at the end of his cot. Unfortunately he did not appreciate sharing me and became very demanding and cranky which was difficult, particularly as the new girl needed a lot of encouragement. She made a gorgeous little puppet and had just ventured it into the set I put in his cot when her breakfast came in so unfortunately we had no real chance to see if playing/interacting was possible. I continued the web-link with the 3 year old however and she watched from her bed while eating. The link was very sweet, an elf in Donegal was glad to `share` the chocolate sausages he had made for Santa, we attempted to sing together (the sound delay made this difficult) and we saw a lovely festive shadow show in Cork. Then my patient became very distracted by the cd player I brought out to facilitate us all dancing together, so after a little hooley we signed off. I presented him with a dvd of his work and his bag of tools and materials as it was my last day, and told him I would drop in before I left. I also left some drawing and booth making materials with the older girl.

I went next to the first room where there were two more patients I had had before, one for 3 weeks now. I started with the 8 year old, playing the video story for her, as I had had these children in mind also when making it. It was hard to hear it so I told the story also, but was unsure of how she was receiving it. I then checked in with the others in the room - as well as the 3 year old, there were two 1 year olds - and the parents agreed some music would be good. I played some circus music that caused some smiles and reactions and danced my puppet, Deargy, to it, he also danced with some of their soft toys. This went down well, particularly with the 3 year old and one of the 1 year olds who became completely mesmerized and cried if I went out of sight, but as their attention waxed and waned I was often dancing alone and feeling an eejit, so after awhile I made ready to move on, but was pleased when the parents asked that I leave the music with them.

In the next room I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to engage a 15 year old, and a very ill 2 year old who I had also met before. A bright 22 month old, sitting on his mother`s knee was delighted to see me however, and did some beautiful absorbed drawing. His mother mentioned that he had used crayons for the first time on his last hospital visit. After he had done a few drawings I took out some star stickers which also delighted him and I was impressed with his dexterity in getting them off the paper, these then became part of another drawing. I offered him masking tape also as my daughter loves to draw on it, but he was having none of that. 

A four year old was pleased to make a puppet, and with help from his aunt and mother made a frog. A thirteen year old proved unavailable, so I finished updating the book I had inherited from the previous artist to leave with the school who I had visited at lunchtime. I had a brief chat with the nurse who is my main contact there, they were short staffed and extremely busy that day so we did not manage to have our evaluation chat over lunch as hoped, but she was very complimentary about my input and asked me to ring into the ward and we will try and do it over the phone or arrange another time for it then. I was pleased that they were happy that I leave the Magic Bus `poster` on the wall. It is a small thing but some evidence of what we did and hopefully will entertain some children yet. I am sorry my time there is finished, it has been a very challenging, and often exhausting job but I have learnt loads and shared a lot of fun and felt I was doing something worthwhile. I hope I will have a chance to return.

9 children, 11 parents, 3 nursing and 6 other staff.

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