Xmas gift for a 5 year old with leukemia.
November 27, 2018 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a gift for a young boy who is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

A friend’s 5 year old boy is back in the hospital due to leukemia. I know that he has a compromised immune system while he receives treatment. His parents are (thankfully) well off and able to be there every day and provide the best treatment, along with lots and lots of Legos.

I’m an artist and I thought that drawing might be good distraction but I’m not sure what a kid that age would appreciate. Looking for suggestions for some kind of drawing gift for a kid his age and in his situation.
posted by jabo to Shopping (9 answers total)
I wonder if he'd like a Paint by Sticker book? The one I linked says 5 and up. My kid loved that one and it was great for "something different" that didn't require a bundle of crayons or whatever. There are a few fancy ones that would be way too hard for his age generally.
posted by amanda at 10:32 PM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

In my experience, little kids love presents which feel Extra Special - but what we adults forget in our (capitalist, hyper-materialistic culture) is that Extra Special doesn't mean fancy or expensive, it just means something with emotional meaning, especially if that is something that feels 'grown up' in some way. Often, what I appreciated most as a child was not some piece of plastic being flung at me, but a grown up who would take the time to really connect with me as a fellow human being; someone who would care enough to see me not as a different species but as a bundle of potential.

With that in mind I wonder if you could produce a portrait of this little boy, and give it to him along with the materials to create his own. Spend some time with him explaining some of the techniques you use to create good art (look at the subject upside down! Divide a photograph into a grid!) so that he feels like you're really investing in him and what he can do. If your little friend is anything like most of the kids I know, then some art lessons from a Real Artist will feel very special indeed, and I'm sure the gifts of time, knowledge and affection will last longer in his memory than any material object you can provide.
posted by matthew.alexander at 11:56 PM on November 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is he into cuddly toys? My kid was at that age (and at 6yo still has a bed full of them). JellyCat do a good range of really cute cuddly animals that are very good for snuggling. Maybe find out his favourite animal from the parents.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:11 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I got an existing photo of my son and dog and had a Photoshop artist make them into someone with magic powers (laser hands, etc). They made the picture awesome.
I then just ironed it on to a pillow case and he loved it.
In this case I'd have it made into a custom blanket. It's so nice to have your own warm blanket at treatment and it gives the staff something to "wow" over and a great conversation piece. Maybe even with his name on it so the whole staff knows his name and can address him without hesitation.
I'd inquire about favorite super heroes/ character and let the Photoshop artist know.
posted by ReluctantViking at 5:08 AM on November 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Before you buy anything, find out from his parents if toys need to be something that can be sanitized. It has been a long time since my volunteer training at Oakland Children’s Hospital but I remember that for patients whose immune systems were compromised, things like games had to be laminated so they could be wiped down. (Maybe that has changed?) If that’s the case, maybe an Etch-a-Sketch? Or some kind of setup with markers?
posted by corey flood at 6:40 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Assuming that coloring books aren't barred due to sanitization issues, at this age my son enjoyed the "doodle book" style coloring books. They contain coloring pictures with some major element missing and a suggestion to "draw hair on this person" or "draw this other person's spaceship" or something similar. Here's a Star Wars one my son enjoyed, but there are plenty of other licensed character and generic options.
posted by telepanda at 7:05 AM on November 28, 2018

He plays Lego while in his hospital bed? Would he like personalized dropcloths to tell Lego-stories on? Maps, outer space, something from a story his parents read to him? On Tyvek, maybe, for cleanability.
posted by clew at 2:48 PM on November 28, 2018

My five-year-old grandson loves stuffed animals, toy cars, and things he can draw with, though his drawing attention span is fairly short. He also loves “grown-up” books about things he’s interested in such as bird field guides. His favorite, of course, is about snakes. The books require some adult to interpret things at first, but then he’s off to the races so long as there are lots of pictures (which is why field guides are good).

Of course, an always-reliable five-year-old-boy thing is anything related to dinosaurs: stuffed, plastic, or books. Also, if cost is not an object, kids love an iPad mini well stocked with relevant apps. Parents probably already covered that, though.

He is also starting to read and loves simple books he can learn from. This also requires some adult attention. If your patient is at this stage some very early readers might be appreciated. Parents could tell you if that’s the case.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 4:33 PM on November 28, 2018

I once purchased a present for a five year old undergoing a bone marrow transplant (successful, by the way!), which was a big hit. Gloves similar to these. Poor fella was too weak for many interactive activities, but he would put on the gloves and zone out looking at them while a movie or television show played in the background.

I know that has nothing to do with drawing, but my present was a hit when his brain was a little chemo-mushy. Good luck! Hope he’s up and at it again soon!
posted by msali at 9:39 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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