Thursday, March 1, 2007

Watching Our Daughters Grow

As we prepare for our daughter’s bat mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony and celebration, I can’t help but cast a discerning eye toward other such affairs we've attended. Don't get me wrong, it’s nothing like that over-the-top movie, “Keeping Up with the Steins” (in which the family’s “friends” hold their party on a cruise ship with “Titanic” as their theme!). Still, in the past month alone, we’ve gone to three pretty wonderful bat mitzvahs. That’s because our daughter and I are part of a mother-daughter book club and the girls in the group have become close.

Here are three of the girls heading to the Rochester Club Ballroom for an evening of dinner and dancing. Don’t they look grown-up?

Here they are stepping barefoot to the DJ’s deafening beat.

And here's an action shot of our daughter, Helen, winning the hula hoop contest!

Of course the girls weren’t always this grown up. When we first started the book club in the fall of 2003, they were only in the fourth grade reading juvenile fare, swooning over handsome princes, intrigued by magic spells in books like Ella Enchanted and Which Witch?

2003: Top row (L-R): Helen, Amanda, Sarah, Bottom row (L-R): Risa, Devon, Katie

But soon enough we moved on to stories with broader (more mom-oriented) appeal like Millicent Min: Girl Genius (which I loved) and Esperanza Rising (powerful and poignant, though a bit over their 5th grade heads). More recently we've read some great titles like The Giver (a thought-provoking sci-fi fable) and So B. It (a compelling mystery about a girl whose mother is mentally disabled).

2005 (L-R): Risa, Devon, Helen, Sarah, Amanda

What a delight to watch these girls blossom in confidence and intellect, as well as in body. Last month we read: The Truth about Forever, about a troubled teenager who finds friendship and emotional strength in unlikely places. It was a book choice that proved controversial for some of the moms. So we had lots to talk about at that meeting.

2006: (L-R): Amanda, Sarah, Helen, Devon, Alex, Risa

This is such an exciting age - teetering on the cusp - still children one minute, so grown up the next. And every book, like every friend, shaping our daughters into the women they will one day become.

(L-R): Marianne, Cheryl, Liz, Shelly, Susan (Naoko not pictured)

Check out our Mother-Daughter reading list. Does anyone have any good young adult books to recommend?