Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Today I am a man"

Those are the cliche words from barmitzvah speeches - which David didn't actually say - and of course it seems ridiculous to regard a 13-year-old boy as a man, but at what point does he make that transition? With girls it's easy to point to the day she starts her period, but boys don't have any milestone that specific. Is it his first shave? his first nocturnal emission? his first paycheck? For us, the turning point may be the fact that over the past 2 months, David has become taller than I am, seemingly overnight. For a couple of weeks we were the same height, and suddenly, I'm wearing 2 inch heels and looking up at him. I realize that many mothers go through this when their sons are 12 or even younger, but it still feels like a major transition. And naturally I've got 2 boys on opposite ends of the spectrum - David is a 'late bloomer', and Ben had underarm hair (and the accompanying body odor) when he was 9.

This is yet another instance where my mom can claim Mother Nature is having her revenge on me (just like when David was a preschooler and turned out to be as picky an eater as I'd been). She dealt with 2 daughters at dramatically different developmental stages - I'm the oldest and didn't need a bra til I was 17, whereas my sister, 3 years younger, was a C cup in 7th grade. I worried for years that I'd never have a period and I'd be barren forever; two months after I finally started (at 15), my sister had her first period and promptly announced she wanted a hysterectomy.

Dad had read an article encouraging fathers to treat the onset of menses as a special occasion, so he announced he'd take us each out for a fancy brunch after we'd 'become a woman'. (Of course, this was when I was 9 - it was a LONG wait!, but worth it.) Nancy, on the other hand, decided it was disgusting (she had decided she couldn't leave the house, because everyone would "know"), so she informed Dad that brunch would have to wait until menopause (which is, naturally, sneaking up on her faster than it is on me, according to our recent comparison of hot flashes.)

I love the idea of celebrating my boys' development, but I still haven't figured out a logical occasion. David's hebrew teacher encouraged us to commemorate the bar mitzvah the way his mother had: "Son, in the eyes of Jewish law, you are now an adult. Here's how to do your laundry" - but that's not quite it. I guess I'll wait til they get driver's licenses and can drive me to brunch?, but in the meantime, I'll enjoy the fact that David actually does his laundry - occasionally - and I'll keep shopping for higher heels!

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