Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back from Vacation, plunged into Bar Mitzvah hell

Okay, so now we've found out that we're officially not a cruising family. How did we find this out? By Bar Mitzvahzilla and I spending the first day of our Mexican Cruise vacation at sea nauseous in our beds while the ship rose and fell, rose and fell. Husband and daughter, of course, got their sea legs the instant they got on board. There were other reasons: the lack of freedom to decide what to do each day; the fact that the shipboard activities didn't meet our interests; the kids hanging around all the time when it turned out they hated the Kid's club; the constant nickel and diming of everything the cruiseline could get us to buy, from drinks to photos, to Tanzanite Tanzanite Tanzanite!, to duty free liquor and shore excursions. There was the fact that in both Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, Husband was too cheap to buy shore excursions so we ended up on van rides from hell with drivers who took us like hostages to the jewelry stores which were sponsoring them, there to stand around with the commissioned store clerks looking at overpriced gold and diamonds, sweating in the humid jungle air.

And, although I would never want to incur the wrath of cruising fanatics, I don't quite get the attraction of basically eating at the same restaurant every day for an entire vacation. One of the things I enjoy about vacations is eating interesting new foods, not the same buffet over and over again, or the same stilted, formal dining room meal, with the same rolls, and the same tropical fruit plate, over and over again.

But Cabo San Lucas was unbelievably beautiful. So here's the plan: go to Cabo with husband alone on long weekend getaway for snorkeling and jacuzzi-ing and shopping.

Now that we're back the good news is that the Bar Mitzvah preparation is all moving along at a nice clip. The room arrangement is good. I met with my sister/chocolatier/party planner today and finalized a bunch of stuff, and I received about fifteen more response cards.

The only thing lagging behind is Bar Mitzvahzilla, who cannot write his Bar Mitzvah speech. Tomorrow he spends an hour with his Hebrew Tutor and an hour with the Rabbi. Thursday he spends a half hour with the Cantor; Sunday another hour with the Hebrew Tutor. On Tuesday he spends another half hour with the Cantor, and next Wednesday another hour with the Rabbi. Is this enough support to get this thing written?

I guess what's really disappointing to me is how uninteresting he finds this, the relating of his Torah portion to his life, to his Mitzvah project, to what it means to him to have arrived at this point. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I'd be really excited to write this. Maybe not if I was thirteen but I like the topic. But this is what I get from him: feet dragging and whining, blank looks and sudden disappearances during which I catch him playing with the light sabers he's dragged out from under his bed and is swishing in the air of his bedroom, or long, suspicious absences in the bathroom reading Star Wars books. No Bar Mitzvah speech.

And I guess what really drives me crazy is that with all that support, all that help, we're still just going to end up with a typical speech where he talks about how archaic the Jewish laws seem instead of saying the unexpected, that they are not archaic, that they apply to his life in a real and practical way, that he just had to look beyond the surface of the words, into the deeper meaning, just as we all have to look beyond the surfaces to the deeper meaning to find how things illuminate our lives.

But unless I write that for him, I'm not going to see it. And if I write it, even if he's never thought those thoughts before, he'll recite those words in front of the congregation, even if he doesn't mean them.

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