One of the most beautiful ways I sometimes get to start my day is biking my girls to school. They go to a wonderful Jewish girls' school about 2 miles away from our home. I found that it's easier (and faster!) to bike there than drive through the traffic. So I put my two older girls, 5 and 10, into the bike trailer and off we go. We schmooze and enjoy the cool breeze while I ring my goofy bike bell and cheerfully say hello to everyone we pass on the street.
A role model of my wife and mine told us about how her father would take her to school pulling her in the snow on a sled. We can imagine how beautiful that moment was for her, that father-daughter bonding moment. Her father conveyed the message to her as a child that he cares for her, gives time to her, is playful with her and loves her. That impression is still in her mind decades later.
I sometimes wonder: What impressions am I making on my children? Do they see me as caring, playful, available and loving? There are plenty of times that I hope I am not making too strong of an impression on them; then there are times like biking my girls to school where I hope and pray that those moments are sinking into their constantly molding and evolving subconscious memories of their childhood.
The truth is that we have moments when we can make impressions on our children all the time. We can show them how much we care, are available and love them. Sometimes it just takes a few extra minutes to send that profound message. Are we capitalizing on those opportunities?
Next week is the holiday of Shavuot. This is the holiday when we commemorate G-d giving the Torah to the Jewish people. It's a precious day, and it's actually a precious opportunity too.
There is a Jewish tradition to stay up all night learning Torah on Shavuot. Many of us who are blessed to have children have a special tradition to learn through the night with them. What a beautiful opportunity to share in the joys of being a Jew and being a parent! We can learn, grow, connect and share the beauty of our heritage with our children.
One of the greatest ways we can show someone how much they mean to us is to ask for their opinion. This Shavuot, choose something meaningful to learn together with your children. Ask what they think about it -- then listen. I'll try to do the same with my children, and hopefully we'll all carry the beautiful Jewish tradition on Shavuot of making precious impressions of care and love on our children and for generations to come.