“And so, today marks a change in our roles as your parents,” my always elegant, supremely gorgeous friend said in an equally eloquent message to her son as he became a bar mitzvah yesterday.
She spoke of how we as parents make choices for our children as toddlers but as they grow, the roles reverse and parents become guides, being there when you make mistakes and celebrating the kind of successes that seem small at first and become big.
In her message, she spoke of how her son, as a fourth grader, had befriended a kid who was considered different, a bit quirky, who was sitting alone at the lunch table. Pretty soon, thanks to our friends’ son, this kid had made not just one friend, but a whole new group of friends.
Boo wasn’t the fourth grade peer, as some have assumed. Our friendship with this couple actually traces back to when The Husband and The Bar Mitzvah Boy’s Dad were 10 years old, or thereabouts. (What’s a few years when you’re measuring in decades, in lifetimes?)
The story of the son befriending the quirky boy wasn’t a surprise to us because for years, forever, we have seen gestures like that (and then some) up close and personal and way beyond measure from this very family.
Which is why we drove 6 hours across the state to be in Philadelphia this weekend and which is why I made it to considered different before I started crying for the third time during a profoundly moving service on many levels.
(As my sister in law joked afterward, it’s no wonder that the Rabbi didn’t usher me into his office for an on-the-spot counseling session.)
You see, there were spirits among us, the ghosts of our ancestors, yes. But also the ghost of memory and tradition and rituals past. We felt them; they were as much there as we were.
The synagogue where the bar mitzvah service was held is one street away from the therapist’s office where we once spent countless Saturdays doing floortime session after floortime session. Seven years ago at that appointed hour, that’s where you would have found us, frustrated and worried and scared beyond measure.
Giving our child choices, simple ones.
Boo didn’t mention any of this. He remembers the therapy sessions; he recently mentioned them. If they were on his mind yesterday, he didn’t say.
There were ghosts among us, the ghost of memory and tradition and rituals past. We felt them; they were there as much there as we were.
And then, of course, later that night there was a party.
Was there ever a party.
A party at a teen dance club sort of place, with loud, migraine-inducing music that drove some of us to the comfort of couches and others to set fire to the steady rain outdoors. There were people who were spinning around the dance floor with microphones. Painted tweens were in tiny apparel, sciatica’ed grandmothers wore sunglasses.
And in the midst of it all?
I don’t post pictures of my kids on this blog for a lot of reasons and today’s one of those days that I kind of wish I did. Because if I did, you would see what I saw.
Leading the crowd with the dance-DJ people with the microphones from the stage in what once would have been a sensory hell. Having – in the words of the photographer, “the absolute time of his life.”
Then dancing some more.
He hardly ever sat down.
I was on the edge of the dance floor, watching, doing that animated kind of grown up Talk-Yell-Nod that passes for conversation in such surroundings, and occasionally joining in with the dancing.
Celebrating the kinds of successes that seem small but become big.
“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)”
copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.