On Saturday, October 25, 2014, my son became a Bar Mitzvah. It is traditional for the Bar Mitzvah boy’s parents to say nice things about him to the whole congregation. Following is my speech from her son’s Bar Mitzvah.
Normally, it is bad form to brag about your kids to a captive audience. But today isn’t normal, so I’m going to take advantage of my position as the person who is feeding you lunch to tell you what an amazing son I have.
This kid has always been precocious. He walked early, he talked early, he was even born early. He’s always had this engaging charm. When he was a baby he would seek people out and stick his little hand out like he was running for Mayor of Babyville. He picked up his first woman in a bar when he was only nine months old, while we were waiting on a table at a restaurant on Jekyll Island and he lept out of my arms into those of a buxom blonde who caught his eye.
And here we are. He’s gone from being a six and a half pound peanut who was allergic to every food under the sun to being this – this healthy, brilliant, talented manchild who is taller than I am when I’m not wearing heels. I have no idea how it happened.
What can I say? What can I say about a kid who spontaneously says things like, “I can’t stand the kitchen anymore, I’m going to clean it”? What can I say about a kid who, since he was tall enough to pour water in the carafe, will make coffee in the morning and bring it to me in bed? What can I say about a boy who gets himself ready for school in the morning, who always does his homework, who always gets A’s on his report cards, and who never not once has gotten in trouble at school? Except that one time when he said a bad word after getting out in the spelling bee. And to his credit he used it properly and in context and had no idea it was a bad word and told the teacher he learned it “when Mommy spilled the pink drink in the car.” The only thing I can think to say about him is this: all you mothers out there, the dowry wars have already begun. Feel free to jump right in and make the field that much more competitive.
There has been so much work leading up until today. Meryl Romeu worked with him as his Bar Mitzvah mentor. Rabbi Kirzner had to give him that ‘look’ a few times. I gave him an awful lot of grief myself, probably more than he deserved. He started his education here at Temple Beth David at the ripe old age of three at Tot Shabbat. Then came Sunday school classes, and five years worth of Hebrew School, then confirmation classes and youth group. He did all of this not only without complaint, but with true regret if we couldn’t make it one time or another. In fact, I’m sure Mike and I complained more about hauling him into Snellville so often than he did about the additional school he was being hauled to. If you don’t speak Yiddish, and you want to know what a mensch is, you need look no further than my son.
I wish I could take credit for him. But aside from not contributing any genetic material to mess it all up, I can’t say I did anything to make him be this wonderful creature that he is. He is so self-motivated. He drives himself hard and cuts himself no slack. If I had let him be raised by the coyotes that we sometimes hear yowling creepily in our back yard, he probably would have turned out just as well. Maybe not as well read or as good at playing the saxophone and oboe, and maybe not as concerned with personal hygiene, and certainly not addicted to Dr. Who, but his character and heart would have been the same. He’d have been the alpha coyote as soon as he was weaned. He’s that naturally good, and naturally a leader. In only seventh grade, he is president of the Loganville Middle School Council. He starred in the Temple Beth David Youth Group’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and now he’s an officer in the Youth Group. He can’t imagine sitting back and letting things drift by him. He’s always in the thick of it, my sweet boy.
I guess after today I should say my sweet man. Today, bubelah, you become a man. Which means that tomorrow, you need to get a job. Just kidding. And you still can’t drive my car for another three years. Seriously, today is supposed to be the day that you take on the responsibility of your own education and obligations as a member of the Jewish community. But you’re not going to do that today. I know you’re not.
Because you already did it years ago, without even being asked.
I love you Jacob. You are the best boy in the whole entire world.
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor.