Mamá a Mamá

Planning a Quinceañera Party ... For My Son

How our family is celebrating our son's transition from boyhood to manhood

Photograph by Getty Images

I’ve tried to give both of my boys roots in their Salvadoran heritage as much as possible; over the years this has meant speaking to them in Spanish, showing them how to dance cumbia, and patting masa for pupusas between my palms to cook on a hot comal, to be washed down with ice-cold horchata.

I've taken every opportunity I could to cement their feet firmly in their identities in the hopes that their father's contribution to who they are won't soon be lost amongst the shiny allure of being American and growing up in the United States. As my older son approaches his 15th birthday, I've decided I don't want to miss the opportunity to share another part of his culture with him, and that means throwing him a quince party.

When I first suggested the possibility of a quince to my husband, whispered one night in the dark as we fell asleep, Carlos waved me off like a lost and confused moth that had mistaken a porch light for the moon. I wasn't surprised that it took awhile for Carlos to open his mind and warm up to the idea—after all, quinceañeras are traditionally coming-of-age celebrations only for girls and Carlos is a very traditional-minded person. However, over time I explained my intentions and little by little, Carlos came to support the idea of throwing a quince for his son.

Before coming to my son with the concept, I spent months researching quinceañeras and all the various traditions associated with the celebration which marks the transition from childhood to womanhood—or in my son's case, from childhood to manhood. I wanted to make sure my son would be on board and not turned off by the idea that it's a "girl thing." While it's taken a little creativity and tweaking of centuries-old customs to make it work, with the changes I've made, my soon-to-be 15-year-old is excited about his next birthday party which will celebrate this new phase of his life and his cultural heritage with a modern twist.

There is still a lot of planning to go, but so far, we're agreed on a few things: There won't be a pink or pastel-colored dress, but it's a great time in my son's life to buy him a nice suit since he doesn't own one. Instead of changing from flats into high heels, our son can change from sneakers into a new pair of leather oxfords. Rather than giving a doll to a younger sister to symbolize leaving childish ways behind, he can give a toy car to his younger brother. There won't be a father-daughter dance, but a mother-son dance will work just as well.

Despite all these small changes to turn a quinceañera into a quinceañero, there are still some things that will be the same: We will celebrate our son's life and passage into adulthood with thankful hearts, he'll be surrounded by family and friends that love him, and there will be plenty of tres leches cake to go around.

How are you celebrating your son's quince? Are you doing anything special?

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