So many times we write when something is going wrong. Then there are those wonderful times when everything goes right! I have tears of joy in my eyes remembering my son’s Bar Mitzvah a few weeks ago.
Words cannot describe how proud I am of Dylan. He got up in front of the congregation, tics and all, led the service and read from the Torah, radiating an immense joy that came from inside. He expressed the feeling of, “I can do this! I’m a Bar Mitzvah” in his smile, his expressions and his words.
In his D’var Torah (speech about the Torah portion) he talked about his parents helping him do things he didn’t want to do, likening it to Moses’ getting help to lead his people out of Egypt, and also said that part of becoming a Bar Mitzvah is that he will need to do more on his own without help.
He does want to do more on his own now, be more independent — even in simple things such as making his own lunch. He tends to make quite a mess while making his lunch. Because of his tics, he’s more likely to spill things, and his motor skills are delayed. But you know what? He can do it. And he can clean up afterward, too.
The stuttering tic made Dylan so frustrated during those months of practicing the prayers and Torah chanting. In the months leading up to the Bar Mitzvah, Dylan’s tics would often increase at the mere mention that it was time to practice Torah. That reflected his nervousness about the upcoming event. During the Bar Mitzvah service itself, did he stutter? Yes. Did it matter? No.
The process of becoming a Bar Mitzvah is ideally a growing-up experience. A 13-year-old is not an adult — far from it — but it’s an age at which children can often first really envision themselves as adults some day and start making purposeful steps to move in the right direction to get them where they want to go. This experience, for my son and our family, was more than I ever dreamed it could be.