Today we had the bas mitzva party of my second daughter – it was beautiful. There’s a really nice feeling after it’s all over to know that it was successful in every way, particularly that it was a celebration that was special and meaningful to our daughter. And I’m glad that everyone was happy with it, too!
They began by making fleece blankets for hospitalized children – I feel that this age is a spiritual milestone and it’s appropriate to mark it with a clearly defined group act of altruism for others when celebrating. Then everyone introduced themselves informally, and shared how they knew my daughter. People often have a hard time wrapping their mind around how kids can make friends if they aren’t in school. They aren’t aware that there are so many other venues, because that’s how they themselves made friends, and that’s how their kids made friends – so they tend to think that homeschooled kids must be lonely or socially isolated because they don’t attend school. It was interesting to hear the varied responses, so different from most parties like this – in which the only answer would be, ‘school’. There were friends from our old neighborhood, homeschooled friends, synagogue friends, teenage friends whom she assisted as a junior counselor for their camp last year, Girl Scout friends, camp friends, and cousins. It was a very nice group of girls.
An hour into the party, just in time for the introductions and meal, two more friends arrived. They came by bus all the way from NY (4 hours away) just to be there, and planned to take the next bus home an hour after the party (but we convinced them to stay the night and take a bus tomorrow instead ). Here’s the story behind that friendship: my older daughter was friendly with the older sister from sleepaway camp last year, and invited her to spend a weekend with us, which she did. When she was here, she got to know my younger daughter, and they liked each other, too. Then when the friend invited my older daughter for a weekend in NY, she invited my younger daughter as well. And when my girls got there, they got to know the younger sister of that friend, and the two younger (ie, 11 year old) girls hit it off. Those were the two friends, sisters, who travelled so far just to be there. Isn’t that amazing, to travel 8 hours to be somewhere for 1.5 hours?!? I was very touched that they wanted to do that.
But I digressed. After that was the meal, then a speech by my daughter, which she independently planned and talked over briefly with my husband to clarify her ideas. I had no idea what she was going to say, but she was articulate and poised (didn’t use notes) and shared some meaningful concepts that she thought about. This particular child has a depth to her thought process – it’s a gift – and comes up with concepts that are surprisingly (to those who don’t know her already) mature and eloquent (her 15 year old brother only partially jokingly told her she should write a commentary on the Bible). My mom then spoke, followed by a group presentation by five of her friends, which we didn’t know about until a few minutes before we called on them! Then my father in law spoke, and my husband spoke – everyone spoke briefly but from the heart. I’m not a fan of long and drawn out speeches (and goodness knows it’s hard for younger people to sit through), but it was the perfect time to just share their appreciation of her and that’s what they all did.
After the speeches, we had dessert and dancing. I was slightly concerned that we hadn’t left enough time for dancing, since we started the dancing only 15 minutes before we were scheduled to end. But no one left until a half hour after the scheduled ending time, and a bunch more stayed an hour later, so they got lots more dancing and fun in together.
It was a beautiful event, and the credit goes mostly to my two oldest girls. They planned it, the schedule, activities, handled the invitations and rsvps, decorations, down to the smallest details, like borrowing the appropriate dance music from friends. They planned the menu and prepared most of the food. I did help with the food prep (meaning I chopped all the veggies and cut up some fruit) and set up, but not much more than that. They’re quite a team.
In the last 28 months, we’ve had two baby boys, made a bar mitzva, and two bas mitzvas. It’s been wonderful to be so involved with all of these celebrations, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I suppose I’ll somehow adjust to the quieter pace, now that the next bar mitzva is 3.5 years away (and then a few months later, another bas mitzva!).