Slow down and make time for unscheduled moments.
I have written odes to you for decades. Long days, warm nights, beautiful sunsets, sweet gorgeous flowers, lemonade, baseball, picnics … I could go on and on.
I never tire of loving this season. I never tire of appreciating these precious moments that fly by too quickly.
I am a New York City kid—born and raised in the Bronx—whose childhood was marked by crowded streets, brick buildings, subways, buses, bikes, roller skates, jacks, stoop ball, kick the can and stick ball. We didn't have play dates. We just played. Most kids hung out in the summer. The street was our playground. On hot days, firefighters released cold water from hydrants and we ran in and out of the spray. We drew pictures on the sidewalk with colored chalk. We jumped rope. Moms shouted from windows to call us in as it darkened. “Can't we stay out a little longer, please?” we'd respond. Just one more bouncy ball verse?
“My name is Anna and I live in Alabama. My brother likes apples and I like applesauce.” Then on to the letter B. We bounced the ball and lifted our leg over the bounce on the special letter. We didn't know that we were learning language, rhyming, alliteration, alphabet, vocabulary and physical coordination. We were just having fun. Oh summer!
When I was 9, I went to Girl Scout camp for the first time. It was $18.95 for two weeks. We rode a big bus to Bear Mountain (I thought it was the absolute end of the world, to later discover it was a NYC suburb.) We lived in tents, cooked most of our meals, planned our activities and sang from morning to night. I still consider those Scout camp summers the greatest influences of my life.
Now I see our children readying for summer. Many are going to summer school, getting tutored, taking lessons, joining teams. Many are home with sitters, registered in day care, visiting relatives. I hope all of our families will enjoy the wonderful festivals, fairs, parks and libraries that offer smorgasbords of delightful activities. The price for these summer treasures is free.
Leave time in your sometimes overscheduled, overprogrammed days to take a leisurely walk through a nearby park. Note and sketch some of the ordinary, extraordinary seasonal sights and sounds: frogs sunning, squirrels scurrying, birds singing, ducks and geese dabbling and diving. Look up at the blue sky and white clouds. Look around. Notice everything. Take your time.
It's summer. Oh summer, we love you.
“Mamaloshen” is the Yiddish term for “the mother tongue” and we have adapted it here to represent the wisdom of Columbus arts educator, author and all-around inspiration Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, who is on a mission to help parents raise happy, healthy, creative children.