This I Believe

John (Tony) - Dallas, Texas
Entered on May 11, 2007

I believe in my magic tie. The one with the dogs and cats and the blue spots. Adults usually can’t quite decode it, but most children, after a little pause, blurt out ‘raining cats and dogs’. A patient gave it to me years ago. I almost always wear it to clinic, this tie which has been my teacher. It has taught me how to calm a frightened two year old, by just sitting down on a low stool, gradually rolling toward the child with the tie held up, allowing the child to grab the tie, chew on it, or even throw it back at me. Then as I roll away, I can watch the child walk to me to see the tie again. I’m a doctor of walking (orthopedics) and need to see if he or she limps, or intoes, or falls, or can’t walk at all.

It has also taught me that even a 5 day old baby can see the colors of the tie, and follow it as I move it. It has taught me that the infant that will not make eye contact with the tie may have a problem. It has taught me that the surly adolescent, with tatoos and piercings and black clothes, can also be a kid again, especially if she misses the raining part and only mentions the cats and dogs.

I think it has taught parents as well; taught them that touching an adult’s tie, or glasses, or clothing is all right, part of the magic of exploration through which their children learn. Maybe it has taught them to relax a bit more with their child, to escape the fear of embarrassment at normal childish things. Maybe this happens when I pretend to be pulled off my stool by the three-year old who has grabbed my tie and headed for the door.

The tie also works on the nursing staff. When I wear the tie it is somehow harder for them to get angry when I upset the system by telling five more patients to “just come to Monday’s clinic.”

Over the years the tie has gotten rather worn, just like the velvetine rabbits which come to clinic with the children. So worn, that one day an observant parent brought me a new one with no saliva stains, no exposed threads in the knot area. How did she know I needed a new one? It does seem to work just as well as the original. It works its magic on me, each day, as I tie it up,, because it makes me go to clinic with a smile.

The tie and others like it are drawn by children, this one was done by Alex age 5 as the back of the tie says, and the producer is the Save the Children organization. And it reminds me that if we can save the children, we can save the world.