As a rabbinical student, I know that one day I will have to tutor your kid for a bar or bat mitzvah. But guess what: I don’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong, because I love kids. Especially during holidays. There’s nothing more fun than watching kids beat each other at dreidel, or get their hands all gross from honey on Rosh Hashanah and chase after one another. That’s good stuff. The bnei mitzvah? Not really worth anyone’s time or money: and there are four big reasons why. Read the rest of this entry →
When Miles was little, we were very careful not to overschedule him. He was and actually still is a child that didn’t transition well from one activity to the next, especially since he has ADHD.
We have tried to follow one simple rule–only one sport per season. Up until last year, when multiple activity options presented themselves and Miles expressed interest in participating, we were pretty successful at abiding by this self-imposed restriction. Read the rest of this entry →
Sandwiched between returning from three months in Europe and moving to Austin, TX, we planned a four-day pit stop in New York to pick up some wayward items we left behind, see a few friends, and say farewell to my old dogs who have found a new home. My best friend’s son’s bar mitzvah in West Hartford, CT, landed right in the middle of our visit, and there was no question we would make the trip regardless of how inconvenient it would be or how jetlagged we were. My friend and I have shared in each other’s simchas (celebrations) whenever we could, and this was a big one. She was there when my son was born and she came in for our good-bye party, but more importantly, I knew how important this simcha was to her. Just like I felt that Aiven’s first birthday was a milestone for me, I knew that this bar mitzvah was a milestone for her, a celebration of all her hard work raising her son from infancy to manhood.
From Europe, we bought Megabus tickets and got a great deal. Our roundtrip tickets cost $14, about as much as the cab ride from the Upper West Side to the bus stop. We arrived at the bus stop a little early and stood in line. Aiven was asleep and the weather was pleasant, and we felt that the universe was smiling upon us. We were wrong. Aiven woke up and we kept waiting and waiting for the bus to arrive. Alex went to ask why it was delayed, and it was plain to see that the dispatcher was not getting any answers and was as frustrated as the rest of us. In hindsight I don’t know why we waited as long as we did before we sprang into action — was it our unreasonable optimism, the resignation of our fellow passengers, or the good weather that made it too comfortable to just keep waiting? Read the rest of this entry →
The last time I attended a bar or bat mitzvah celebration, the deejay blasted “Ice, Ice Baby” in between “The Electric Slide” and “Hava Nagila,” and my friends and I raced around the party collecting materials to make a memory glass. Not much has changed about the synagogue service in the two decades since I attended a bar/bat mitzvah, but the after-party sure looks a whole lot different.
I found this out over the weekend when I attended the b’nai mitzvah of my husband’s cousin’s kids (they’re 14 months apart and decided to have a joint celebration). They rocked their prayers and speeches and were more than ready to release the stress of it all at a nighttime bash at the W Hotel in Dallas.
The first thing I noticed is that the music was really loud. The second thing I noticed is that I am apparently now old. But the biggest observation I made is that the party has become about the kids, not the adults. Aside from an open bar, there wasn’t much for adults, and in fact, not many who weren’t family or very close friends were there. Gone, it appears, are the days of inviting teachers, friends’ parents, etc. Teens chowing down on sliders, chicken fingers, and fries far outnumbered the grownups carrying plates of veggies out to the quieter reception room.
I know that a lot of people are against having big, expensive parties for their kids. My own parents took me on a bar/bat mitzvah tour to Israel in lieu of making me a lavish event. They felt I would remember that a lot longer than I would a dance party. (I can’t say for sure if they were right because I didn’t have a party to compare it to, but I do remember that trip to Israel as if I went on it yesterday.) But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a celebration of the hard work and milestone that was met as long as the focus remains steadfast on what it all means rather than what it means for getting presents.
And if you’re going to make a party for your child, making it about your child is the way to go. Isn’t it?
I visited the comedian Myq Kaplan in Park Slope a few weeks ago to shoot this new video for our sibling site, MyJewishLearning.com. He was cool as anything, and we got into a bit of a nerd war (I won on Doctor Who; he won at just about everything else) and then he told a story about learning how to dance for his bar mitzvah.
Halfway through filming, I got one of the biggest shocks of the past 48 hours. (It would have been the biggest, but I’d just done my shift at the Food Co-op and ran into an old friend from 10 years ago who used to be Hasidic and is now married to a non-Jewish guy and has two kids…but, yeah.)
As Myq spoke about his bar mitzvah, it got me thinking about mine. I realized that more time had lapsed between the present and my bar mitzvah than between the present and my oldest daughter’s future bas mitzvah.
I’m not sure what to make of this. I mean, in actuality it’s kind of beautiful, right? Getting older. Raising your kids with the immemorial traditions of your great-great-great-grandfolks. But…growing up means that one day they will be grown up. They will have bas mitzvahs. They will talk about the Torah portion in words better than my speech (where I didn’t really talk about anything, but I thanked just about everyone who ever worked at my synagogue). They will be able to read Hebrew better than I can now.
Let’s just say, I went into clueless-dad-induced-shock.
We visited my parents for Thanksgiving. Our younger kid was obsessed, obsessed, with my bar mitzvah picture. Not just scratching my face, which she does to every other photo/drawing/blur/wallpaper around the house. She was giggling and bumping noses and actually trying to have a conversation, in that pre-vocal gurgling way, with this two-dimensional prepubescent version of me. And that brought on yet another realization, and an even more shocking shock. One day there will be boys.
Over and out. I have to fish through my old Boy Scout stuff for that BB gun.