18 Oct 2010

Becoming a Man

4 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

This weekend my family celebrated my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony marking a boy’s (or girl’s) 13th birthday and the fact that he is becoming a man. It represents the change from a boy with little social responsibility to a man with the onus to do good in the world and to affect positive change. It’s a lovely service at temple where the young man reads from the Torah, surrounded by all of his friends and family.

A Bar Mitzvah is also a big, fat party with music, food, dancing and pure chaos. It was an absolute blast, and I saw my kid do some stuff that blew my mind. First of all, he was in a suit. Garrett, my adorable little man, looked like a lady killer in his pin-stripe jacket and tie. When we got into the tent that held the festivities, incredibly loud music poured out of the speakers… And Garrett promptly covered his ears and scrunched up his nose. “It’s too loud!”, he screamed. And I thought we were in for a very long, frustrating night. But then a song came on that must have been “his jam”, because all of a sudden he ran to the dance floor and started rocking out. I mean, he wasn’t merely dancing, he was feeling the music and busting a freakin’ move! This dance fest lasted for about an hour, and I’m still sore. I danced with him (well, NEAR him) the entire time and I had the sweat pouring down my face to prove it.

I finally pried him away from the dance floor long enough to say hi to some folks and have a little drink. Then the DJ started playing a song I requested at the beginning of the night: “The Final Countdown”. If you haven’t read my post on this little ditty, now might be a good time to do it. Suffice it to say, it’s Garrett’s favorite song. And as soon as he heard it, he ran full speed onto the dance floor and started going nuts! Within seconds, he was surrounded by every one of the 80 tweens attending the party. Outside of them were the rest of us, staring in wide-eyed awe at the three-year-old in the middle of the floor. At the chorus Garrett started to jump up and down, and so did all the kids around him. It was like he was their short, blond czar and they all had to do exactly what he was doing. Then they all started chanting, “Go Garrett, Go Garrett, Go Garrett!” and he kept dancing.

My kid was not deterred or scared or freaked out by all the attention, the noise, the chaos. And Russ and I just kept looking at each other laughing our asses off in amazement. I knew he was a little bit of a ham after he got used to a situation and knew all the people in the room. I had NO IDEA he could drop it like it’s hot in front of 250 people without batting an eye! The night went on, Garrett kept dancing and he also played the games, wore big clown shoes and sunglasses, got in a photo booth with Russ and I, got his caricature drawn, and ate a little. I discovered Garrett will forgo food for dancing.  He ate the three bites of hot dog hurriedly, knowing he was missing some good stuff. And he barely ate any dessert.

There was even a moment when I was following Garrett to wherever he was headed and he said, “Mom! Stay there! Don’t come with me!” But… I’m your mom. You’re THREE! You don’t get to tell me… “Stay at your table, Mom!” At that moment my 9-year-old niece said, “I got him, Aunt Lisa!” And there he went. Off to play with the big kids without me. That’s not supposed to happen yet. Not at three.

Then the message of the evening hit me, and it was one that was touched upon in my sister-in-law’s speech at temple. Garrett is only three, yes. He’s still a toddler. But in ten short years, we’ll be celebrating his entrance into manhood, God willing. And that time goes by in the blink of an eye. He’s already showing his extreme independence and big personality. He’s going to grow up quickly, and he’s not always going to want me there watching his accomplishments. One day soon he’ll be his own man and he’ll make his own successes and mistakes. These years are fleeting, and I need to appreciate every beautiful, frustrating, difficult, wonderful second. I also need to give him the freedom to be exactly who he is… Which is never dull, and is always surprising.

I was so proud of my nephew this weekend. He showed great poise and intelligence. His speech about the Torah portion he read was insightful and lovely. His love of my father, his grandpa, was ever-present as was his respect and love for my mom, his grandma, who he gave full permission to cry if she needed to at any time. The way he treats Garrett is beyond words. He shows him such love and teaches him kindness, and he introduces him to all his friends as if he’s a peer, not a baby. I’m so glad Garrett has him as an example of a young man. Because soon he will be one too. Very, very soon.

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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4 Responses to “Becoming a Man”

  1. Reply AL says:

    “Give them wings” from my generation’s college days philosopher, Gibran! A bittersweet moment when our little ones transition from being “just” our baby to a child. What a wonderful celebration and tradition for your family, especially considering your family’s loss.

    Other than the wild and reckless celebratory abandon of Garrett’s Irish kinfolk, I have nothing to offer. Musical, artistic and passionate beyond reason…all of that,… we have!

    Thank you for sharing such a joyus time with us! (We really want film 🙂

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      I will try to get you film at some point. It was amazing! And I know for a FACT that the Irish side of Garrett was coming out at this Jewish celebration! He’s Jirish!

  2. Reply Max says:

    I enjoyed your sweet Auntie Lisa feminine perspective on Sam becoming a man. Personally, I relished the end of the service when Sam walked over to his gaggle of bros and they shoved him and rubbed his head and blatantly broke his balls. But with what seemed like great RESPECT.

    That was a real highlight for me. He seems to have some awesome buds (and awesome female fawners), that fine young fellow.

  3. Reply flawlessmom says:

    Agreed. I liked that part, too. And, as a mom, I love that his friends are “guys” but they’re still kind and seemingly mature. At least in front of us.

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