Short Stories and poetry | Jamie Glaser | Tashlich for children

Tashlich for children

I took a ride on a duck. It was Yom Kippur and I was supposed to cast all of my sins into the water. The duck told me to hop on, it would be more fun than standing by the shore, so I did. It was fun to ride the duck, but I was feeling nervous. I knew I had a lot of sins to let go of this year. I thought of all of the times I fell short, as I floated with the duck over the deep lake. The duck turned around to look at me. “You can let go.” he quacked. I wasn’t sure I could. I thought of all of the times I yelled at my mom, shoved my brother and disobeyed my teacher. Sure, I had done some good things too, but right now I was feeling pretty bad about some of the choices I had made this year. I was also a little bit scared. What if I mess up again next year too? “You will.” the duck quacked. I looked down. “Oh.”

“But don’t worry.” the duck reassured me. “Everybody sins. It’s ok. All a sin is, is missing the mark. Really, sins are just to learn from. We might make a mistake, and we have to apologize. It can be hard to admit we made a mistake and say you’re sorry. But we get a lesson. We remember that it’s ok to feel sad or angry but we have a choice in how to respond.”
“I’m afraid next time I feel angry I’ll yell again.” I told the duck.

“You might, and that’s ok.” the duck replied. “Nobody’s perfect. This day is all about saying you're sorry. There are people you need to say you are sorry to, and some people need to tell you that they are sorry too. It’s not meant to make you feel bad, it’s supposed to make you feel better. As he swam I saw all of the things I did that weren’t so nice this year. I began to feel bad until I also saw all of the good things I did. There was the time I shared my lunch with a friend, and helped to plant our garden at the temple. There was also the time I yelled at my mom because we were out of my favorite cereal.

Not my best moment, but as I saw all of the pictures of my whole year I realized it hadn’t been so bad. There were a few things I could do better, and some better choices to make. But there were also some things I could do to keep up the good work. I was the only kid in Sunday school who stayed after class to help the teacher clean up. That was special! The duck interrupted my thoughts. “You’re a mensch!” He quacked. “Thanks!” I quacked back. He laughed at my attempt to speak duck and told me I was brave to try another language! Then he said “ This year you did some really great things and some things you probably shouldn’t have done. But the good news is you were able to do all of these things because you are alive. Being alive is a gift and even when you sin, or miss the mark it’s just another reminder that you are human and alive. Yom Kippur is supposed to be a very joyful day. Some people may wonder why because it’s a time to remember mistakes, but it’s also a time to remember you’re alive and you have the opportunity to live your best life. Being able to remember mistakes, and have the courage to do better is a simcha, a blessing.

Remembering the good things we did is nice too. It’s definitely something worth celebrating.” We were almost at the shore. I hopped off and thanked the duck for the ride. It was really fun, though some parts were hard. I skipped back to my family, feeling good. I knew nobody was mad at me and that I was doing my very best! I hugged my parents and brother and told them I was sorry for all of the times I was mean. They said they loved me, they were sorry for their mistakes too and that nobody is perfect. I smiled and said that's ok, we can just be imperfect together. They said that sounded like a good idea. Oops! I almost forgot something. I said I’d be right back and ran back to the shore.

I dumped out my rocks, and remembered that my sins were teachers and that I was happy to learn, even if sometimes it’s hard to be wrong. I watched the water for a minute and saw the duck again. He waved his wings and I thought I saw him smile. I smiled back and ran to my family. Shana tova. I knew it was going to be a sweet new year.

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