Coming of Age

Saturday my son went to a classmate’s bat mitzvah. It was the first he’d ever been to, so I was curious about what his reaction would be.  He said the service was nice and that his friend did a good job speaking.  She didn’t look nervous at all, he reported.  The party afterward was a bit of a wash, though.  My son is not the kind of kid who relishes being one of a hundred children, most of whom are running around in a sugar rush screaming.  The loud music didn’t help either.  “Pop,” he said, when we asked what kind of music they played.  Frown.  He isn’t much into pop, he informed us. I think he’s become a tweener.  That seems like a tweener thing to say.

So, anyway, this coming of age thing is a bit of a puzzlement to me.  We aren’t Jewish, and we aren’t Latino (quinceanero celebration), or Norwegian/Swedish (confirmation).  Seems like all three of these groups really go to great lengths to mark a time for a child to enter adulthood.  When I was in Scandinavia, I was surprised to discover that confirmation was still such a huge deal, that confirmants are given a lot of money and other gifts and are really thought to have passed a significant milestone.

Why doesn’t mainstream America have any real coming of age ceremonies like this? I asked my husband this question on Saturday afternoon while we were waiting to pick up our son from the party. A party which did not, as the invitation said, end at 5 p.m. but rather around 3:30!! (Poor kid just sitting there waiting.)

My husband’s answer: “Because in America, we don’t want to grow up.  We want the lines to be blurred so we can be perpetually a child.”

Wow.  Hadn’t thought of it this way, yet it makes perfect sense.  If we do not have a ceremony to mark a pasage into adulthood after which a child takes on more responsibilities and enjoys more privileges, well, then maybe we just won’t HAVE to take on more responsibilities….

My son saw how much money the girl got from her hundred plus guests in the cards we all dropped into a basket.  He’s good at math. He’s wondering why WE don’t have a bar mitzvah tradition. 🙂 Yup. He’s a tweener.  How will we know when he’s an adult???

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2 Responses

  1. ““Because in America, we don’t want to grow up. We want the lines to be blurred so we can be perpetually a child.”

    Wow, your husband is right.

    You have a tweener in the house? Oh no! 🙂

  2. Yeh, I’m afraid my little boy is not so little anymore. He turns eleven in Nov. and is already five foot two….

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