As I head back to school with my youngest in ninth grade, I’d like to offer a heads up to the parents of seventh and eighth graders who are entering the bar mitzvah year. Non-Jewish parents, don’t turn the page yet. Of course, some middle-school parents are obsessed with planning their own child’s celebration and some are excited for their child to attend a lavish party. But, one mom told me that her son had been invited to 76 bar mitzvahs and she had to add it as a line item to her budget.
Carpooling became so complicated that I created and managed a spreadsheet for the year, keeping track of which kids were going to each party and which parent would drive. The daunting task was so appreciated that the other carpoolers actually threw a thank-you dinner for me after the celebrations subsided.
In some districts, the kids attend three parties every weekend—sometimes more as they juggle cocktail parties and dinner festivities.
Who would imagine that sweatshirt etiquette would become a rule for your child to live by? Some school districts actually have policies governing how long the partygoers must wait to wear the favor so as not to offend the kids who weren’t invited.
In our neighborhood, this merriment is not just limited to the Jewish kids. One non-Jewish 13-year-old had her birthday party on a boat, which the kids christened a boat mitzvah. They affectionately called the lavish party of an Indian girl a dot mitzvah and the African-American boy’s a bro mitzvah. One family even had a bark mitzvah for the dog.
But, the kids will have quite a party year—the most lavish until their friends start getting married. Look on the bright side, at least there are no engagement, bridal, bachelorette or bachelor parties—and no baby showers to follow.
This year, your kids will have a better social life than you. Your Saturday nights will be planned around their pickup. But, if you’re lucky, the kids in the backseat will give you a treat from the candy bar or food truck, which will motivate you to pick them up again the following week.