Monday, April 24, 2006
KIDS + WEDDINGS = ? (PART III)
After three non-stop days of being "on" at my college reunion (it's VERY tiring trying to look cute + speak eloquently + make your life sound more exciting than it really is), I am very excited to get back to the anonymous world of the Wedding Fairy (since I certainly couldn't exactly introduce myself that way there :)
I was speaking with a friend of mine about the concept of kids at weddings, and she made a very apt analogy: in many ways, the presence of children at weddings is much like having grandparents at high school/college graduations--the ceremony/reception oftentimes becomes about THEM--not because it's their fault--but because they don't know any better, or can't really help it.
Remember at high school graduations when 80 year old grandparents had to be wheeled to the coveted, shady part of the lawn (if the graduation was held outside), or outright faint because of the heat? I do. That type of behavior was pretty frequent, as I remember, at my graduation from high school (and that of my brother). Parents were too busy looking after the grandparents (i.e. their mothers and fathers)--and therefore missed much of the ceremony due to the constant fussing. In most cases, it really isn't the grandparent's fault--I don't think an 85-year old woman loves the fact that she's in 90 degree heat and needs to be coddled. However, due to the frailty and age of many of these people, receptions and ceremonies become about THEM--instead of the guests maintaining focus on those who are on stage to receive their diplomas.
In many cases, young children are much like grandparents, in the sense that they MUST be taken care of--and that circumstance doesn't always lend itself to their being part of the ceremony/reception.
If a four-year old is supposed to walk down the aisle as a flower girl, and then stay on stage (or to the side of the stage) during the actual ceremony, can we actually expect her to stand still? One of my friends attended a wedding where a woman was trying to make her two-year old sit still on stage (she was supposed to be part of the ceremony), while the young child was screaming and fighting with her mother, because she didn't want to sit where she was placed. Is that the child's fault? Certainly not. The mother had unrealistic expectations about her daughter remaining patient--because if you think about it, two-year olds just don't know how to act that way yet.
The bottom line in bringing up this analogy is that you MUST be realistic about how children are going to act at the wedding--both the ceremony and reception. And they shouldn't be treated as "little adults" -- there's no way they can act like that, whether or not you ask them to.
REMEMBER: IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE TYPE OF MOOD YOU ARE TRYING TO SET, AND THE TYPE OF "DAY" YOU ARE TRYING TO HAVE. Just remember that in any scenario, children are not going to behave as you would like them to -- it's just the way it is.
I'll be back this week with more about children, but I wanted to focus on this analogy first, as you think about why you want to have children in the first place, and what kind of wedding you are looking to have.... These questions matter, and figuring out the answer isn't as easy as you might think. If you think about children in the above-context, however, it may help you think about the larger issues that will arise.