Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In less than 2 weeks time, our family will be celebrating the coming of age of our 12 year old daughters. The girls will be called to read from the Torah as B'not Mitzvah on March 12. In addition to the synagogue service in the morning, we will be dancing the night away at a party that evening. Our daughters have worked hard and prepared admirably and meaningfully for this celebration. We are all very excited. This evening, as I was counting the final numbers of guests that will attend the party, one of our daughters remarked on the fact that the list is a long one and suggested that we (the grownups) had invited too many of our own friends. Truth be told, the Saturday night party is very much a kids' party. We invited only a handful of our own closest friends as well as our close family members. The vast majority of guests will be under the age of 13.

The ultimate suggestion, which I think was made fairly explicitly, was that she and her sister should have had veto power over who was invited to their party. We certainly gave them free(ish) reign over the kids they wanted to invite but I drew the line at adults. I explained that when you have a big celebration such as this, it's up to the parents to decide what kind of function they want to organize and, beyond the kids, who they would like to have present. She challenged me a little further and I drew on the "who do you think is paying for this bash" card. That was followed by my insistence that "you can invite anyone you want when you're paying the bill" and if I hadn't stopped myself, I'm pretty sure I would have ended up at "my house, my rules". I looked at Jeff and admitted that I never thought I'd hear myself utter those words and, yet, they seemed to come to me so naturally.  Kids, since the beginning of time, have asserted their right to do what they want though they are unable to financially support whatever it is. Parents, since the beginning of time, have fallen back on the tried and true lines that best address the predicament. Opting for the stock answer, I decided, didn't mean I was a bad or unimaginative mother. By contrast, it was one more rung on my own coming of age ladder as a mom.If you're a mom, you know that ladder; it just keeps going and going and going... Just like you!

Virtually every young adult (YA) novel out there is a coming of age story on one level. The books I'd like to recommend are both for middle grade readers (grades 4-6). To be honest, I haven't read either one yet but they're both on my short list of must reads so if you happen to get to either one before I do, please let me know what you think by posting a comment. The first, Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashron Place: The Mysterious Howling is described as  "Jane Eyre meets Lemony Snicket." How can you go wrong with that? The second is Nature Girl by Jane Kelley. I look forward to hearing what you think!

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