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Doctor Uses Playdough To Show Her Son How To Deliver A Baby Via C-Section
PHOTO BY Instagram/thebreakfasteur
  • One of the stories that went viral this year was a playdough surgery video — yes, playdough, the modeling clay your kids play with.

    The video shows a mom teaching her 4-year-old son how to — drum roll, please — deliver a baby via C-section using playdough.

    The bun-looking shape (it made people think it was going to be a cooking demo at first) happens to be mommy’s tummy. Inside is baby Spiderman (complete with an umbilical cord and placenta), who the mother-and-son team needs to deliver to this world safely via C-section.

    Now, talk about children’s play that genuinely rocks. At SmartParenting.com,ph, we were amazed when we saw the video. So we decided to message this genius of a mom who came up with this playdough surgery idea. To our delight, she replied and happily welcomed our questions.

    How simple lumps of clay means learning and play

    Playdough mom is Dr. Jessica So, a physician and a board-certified dermatologist who goes by the Instagram handle of @The Breakfasteur. Scroll her Instagram, and the CS playdough video is just one of many “surgeries” she has done with her son. They’ve done Carpal Tunnel Release, Thyroidectomy, Colectomy, and Ovarian Cystectomy, and many more.

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    “My son loves learning about the human body and specifically has an interest in the work of surgeons as they help people when their bodies aren’t working quite right,” Dr. So tells Smart Parenting via Instagram direct message.

    “I suspect some of his interest stems from a natural curiosity for my work as a physician while I am away from home all day.”

    Dr. So says that, in many ways, the playdough surgery idea was originated by her son. “He said, ‘I can’t wait to be a surgeon one day, Mommy.’ We discussed the long road to this profession, which was met with the age-appropriate, ‘But I want to be a surgeon now!’”

    Playdough surgery with her son usually happens during the weekends. Their very first ‘case’ was an open gallbladder removal.

    “He was absolutely delighted,” recalls Dr. So, adding they reset and repeated the play surgery six times. “I was surprised how much he learned from some simple lumps of playdough.”

    How play shapes empathy

    Since then, they have moved around to different body parts and subspecialties, sometimes doing cases their family members are going through so her son can better understand the need for care and recovery.

    “My son is innately very inquisitive, and most of the remaining surgeries stem from questions he has asked. As a 4-year-old, he loves slinging a hammer and working with drills. Naturally, the orthopedic procedures are his clear favorite (but the hardest to do!),” says Dr. So.

    As we write this, their C-section playdough session has already reached 4.4 million views on Twitter. Dr. So says they have been receiving requests for other surgeries, which she tries to accommodate when she can, especially those from parents of kids who have had or are scheduled to have surgeries.

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    She shares that the rotationplasty was probably one of the most incredible surgeries they’ve learned about.

    Rotationplasty is a technique used to replace a removed knee (theirs was affected by a bone cancer) with the patient’s own ankle, rotated 180 degrees. A prosthesis can be fitted to the new ‘knee joint,’ which allows the patient to run and even participate in competitive sports.

    “[Surgeries like this] is life-changing for these young survivors!” says Dr. So.

    Apart from her playdough surgery sessions, Dr. So also prepares her kid — she also has a daughter — witty and artfully made meals.

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    “Vincent Van Dough” is what she called the Vincent Van Go art she made on pizza dough. Pup-sicle” is her special puppy shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich held with a popsicle stick.

    Teachable moments for parents 

    It is easy for Dr. So to draw creative inspiration from life experiences and turn them into teachable moments for a child.

    “I firmly believe each parent/caregiver has a unique and wonderful set of life experiences to share with their young children. I know more about medicine, but kids respond to anything taught with genuine enthusiasm --your enthusiasm is infectious!”

    Here are a few tips she shares on how moms can utilize the talents they already have and use it to make a teachable moment fun and interesting for kids.

    If a subject is important and cool to you, teach it to your child no matter how young he/she may be.

    “I have been shocked by how much my kids have been able to understand, process, and even apply simplified concepts at an early age.”

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    Make concepts come to life through play.

    “I’m a big believer in learning through play for young children, whether it be chalk, playdough, or post-its. Learning is much more fun when you’re showing concepts come to life.”

    Plant seeds of wonder through everyday conversations.

    “The small, unscripted conversations that come up in day-to-day life are also valuable opportunities to plant seeds of wonder for our bodies and the world around us — at the dining table, in the car, at bedtime.”

    Encourage curiosity by welcoming questions with enthusiasm.

    “Children are naturally curious, and questions are a great way to incorporate learning. My most common response is, ‘That is a great question! I don’t know the answer, but let’s find it!’ I have learned so much from my kid and his many (many...) questions.”

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