Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gathering Under Street Lamps

Last night was the annual Arts Nite at the day camp my children have attended for the past few weeks. It was Hannah's sixth summer participating in the event, and it's become a highlight of the year for me. The night runs long, as the youngest kids kick it off with a short play and corresponding song, and then the oldest kids perform a full-scale musical.

Both kids were thrilled to participate in their plays this year, with Max as the title role in "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," and Hannah playing a resident in the town of Whoville in the musical based on the writings of Dr. Seuss, "Seussical." Both of them put all of their hearts into their productions, and they loved being on stage and part of a cast.

It's in these short summer months that I see explosive growth in my children. The experiences they have at camp are different than anything they do the rest of the year, and it shows in the ever-expanding confidence they display, especially when on stage. I always leave these performances bursting with pride.

Moments like these are meant for ice cream. The older kids had been talking about visiting a local ice cream shop for days, but when the time came, Hannah didn't want to go. Maybe she was worried that she wouldn't fit in, or was uncomfortable in the clothes she had on. She was tired, it was too late, she didn't want her little brother tagging along. But I encouraged her to go, and eventually, to my great joy as well as hers, we went. She celebrated with sprinkles and ice cream trails cascading down her arms in the summer humidity. Under the light of the street lamps, 20 kids gathered and raucously sang, with even more enthusiasm than they'd had on stage. 

Half a country away, others gathered under street lamps in Ferguson, Missouri, not to celebrate, but to mourn. I'll never know why Hannah wanted to hold herself back from joining her friends last night, but I do know this: it wasn't because she was concerned for her personal safety. It wasn't about being treated in a callous way because of her skin color. Some day, she might know fear, because she is a young woman, or because she is a Jew, but I pray that won't be the case. While these kids ate ice cream and sang, others were subjected to tear gas and worse.

Last night, I took photos of my children getting the opportunity to excel and celebrate. Parents in Ferguson should have been able to do that, too. 


  1. I talked with my husband that night about how different our lives are from those in Ferguson and how do we teach our children about this? I can't imagine many things about what is happening and has happened in Ferguson, but I do know it's horrible and no one should have to live through it, no child, no parent, no anyone!

    So glad your kids enjoy their summer camp fun! Hard to believe summer is almost over,enjoy in these last days of it!

  2. Times like these make us appreciate what we have so much more. As we hug our children extra tight, our hearts are with the parents of Ferguson. I love the setting you painted in this post.

  3. Great piece, Cheryl.

    As this has continued on, there isn't a day where I don't think about how crazy it is that things are just fine where I live, and yet somewhere else, it's utter chaos.