Remember bedtime stories? When I was little, my dad read to me, my brother and my sister every night. Along with the usual nursery rhymes, Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears stories were my favorite books of all time: “Make Way for Ducklings.” The story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who find an island in the middle of the pond at the Boston garden to raise their children, was always a memorable, happy story for me. One their children are old enough to “walk in a line,” Mrs. Mallard leads them through the crazy streets of Boston to meet their father on the small island surrounded by the swan boat filled pond. Along the way, people like a friendly policeman help Mrs. Mallard safely transport her children to their new home.
A couple of weeks ago, my dad and I flew to Boston on our way to visit my sister in Providence. Since we only had a few hours in Boston, I had a very short list of what I wanted to do in the crazy city full of powerful pedestrians and annoying one-way streets. All I wanted to do besides grab a hot cup of coffee was see the statues of the ducklings who graced the pond of the Boston garden in the children’s story.
When I was five and my dad read us the story, he told us about the statues that were forever planted in the garden by adults. A children’s book remembered by adults, not just kids.
Ever since then, I had always wanted to see the ducks just because they were a reminder of my childhood, a memory that I would never forget. I wanted to take a picture with Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack and float around on the Boston swan boats.
As we grow older, we read children’s stories less and less, we play hide-and-seek less and less, we eat mud less and less.
Although we inevitably will not and cannot remain kids forever, we can still cherish our childhood memories. Instead of being ashamed of our past games, stories and mistakes, we should pass on our memories to the next generation.
As I scrolled through Amazon’s stories related to “Make Way for Ducklings,” I recognized at least half of the other children’s books. “Ping,” “Caps for Sale,” “Goodnight Moon,” “Blueberries for Sal,” “The Little House,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harry and the Dirty Dog.” I wanted to search through my garage and read them all. While one friend made fun of me for my nostalgia, I actually felt good about it all. I was happy to remember, knowing that I would be able to pass on my childhood through these stories in the future.
The people who decided to make the bronze statues commemorating Robert McCloskey’s unforgettable tale were adults who treasured the story throughout their whole lives, not just their childhood.