This fall, my family will be adventuring to the East Coast for two weddings. The four of us will be flying from Honolulu all the way to North Carolina then driving to Virginia. I’m very nervous about flying with Madelyn, but that’s not what I want to talk about right now (although, if you have any advice for flying and road tripping with a four month old, please share!). What I want to talk about is children at weddings, which is apparently quite the hot topic.
Children are not allowed at the first wedding we are going to, my brother-in-law’s. My girls are an exception because Cailin is the flower girl and Madelyn hasn’t met any of the family. Also, she’ll be four months old and needs me so she can eat. Children are allowed at the second wedding, my cousin’s, but I think it was only after lots of thought.
I told both couples to just let me know – if they didn’t want kids, fine. It’s their wedding, I will find someone to take them. We got lucky. I suspect we got lucky because both couples know that I will not turn their day into my children’s day. Because it’s not. But a lot of parents don’t get that.
I remember being a bridesmaid right after college for my roommate of two years and standing in shock as her husband’s niece came running up during the vows and grabbed her husband’s hand. Which he was using to hold his bride’s hand. The girl’s mom? Giggled and left her there! I think that was more shocking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad your kid loves her uncle so much, but an interruption like that during the vows? Are you kidding me? If Cailin had done that, her butt would have been taken out of the church.
I’ve heard stories of kids ‘joining’ in on the first dance. I prefer the word crashing, but I have been told that’s harsh. I’ve seen pictures of it on Facebook, and people talk about how cute it is. No. No, it’s not.
Apparently, during our wedding, Cailin decided she wanted to hold my bouquet. And then tried to throw a little fit when she was told no. You know what I remember about that moment? Nothing, because my sister took Cailin aside and told her to knock it off, because flower girl or not, her behavior was unacceptable and she’d have to leave and not see Mommy and Daddy get married if she didn’t calm down. Situation handled.
There were two other kids at our ceremony (though none at the reception except Cailin) and you would not have known they were there. One was just a few months old, and apparently, at some point, she started crying. Mom was a bridesmaid, so Daddy was on duty. He purposefully sat at the back of the church, and once the baby started crying, he left. The other girl was three years old and her mom explained to her that she was to keep quiet or she was leaving and would NOT get to see the girls in pretty dresses or the boys, including her daddy, in their dress blues. Again: situations handled.
My awesome soon-to-be sister-in-law is getting a lot of flack about not allowing children at her wedding. While I understand that it can be a hassle to find a sitter, if it’s that hard, just don’t come. It is not your day. It’s theirs. That is what I think everyone else keeps forgetting. If they don’t want to share it with your kids, they shouldn’t have to.
Cailin will be getting a very big talk before the wedding, but I know she’s a good kid – like many are – and will not try to steal the spotlight. (Though I have a hunch that her uncle and aunt wouldn’t mind if she did certain things, because they are so very in love with her.) But I won’t let her. Because I shouldn’t.
This attitude about children having a right to be at the wedding and having a right to do whatever they want is, I think, getting out of hand. Children have the right to be safe, secure, taken care of, loved, and educated. After that, not many ‘rights’ are left. They do not have the right to make every day and every event about them. We, as parents, have the responsibility to instill that in them.
Cailin came to a different college roommate’s wedding, and was great during the ceremony. She was perfect during the first bit of the reception. And then when everything was over, and it was time to have fun, and appropriate to let my then-three-year-old join in, I did. She was the life of the party, trying to do all the line dances and jumping right in the soul train (is it still called that?) and rocking out by herself in the middle of the circle.
I am not trying to say I’m the perfect mom with perfect kids. Because I know I’m not and she’s not. On more than one occasion, Caleb or I have had to pull Cailin out of somewhere. But that’s the thing – we get her out of a situation when she’s not acting right. And I just don’t think enough parents do that. I get it, kids are kids. And I don’t think they should be bullied into being little robots. But I feel like parents have got to start setting limits.
So this fall, at these weddings, both my girls will be there. But they will not be the center of attention. They will be cute, well-behaved little girls. And if they aren’t? Party’s over.
Preview of next post, Laundry Lessons: “Oh, kid. If only you had the capacity to think about things you say. I couldn’t help but laugh. Not only was she figuring out a good lesson, I didn’t have to fold laundry. Win!”