March 13, 2014 by Dadinator
Last week my little sister got married. It was a wonderful ceremony with a loving group of people gathered together to watch a beautiful woman and a fine young fellow declared their love and commitment to each other. My sister is a meticulous woman of fabulous taste. The ceremony and reception were fun, joyous and looked immaculate. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and felt both honoured and blessed to be able to be part of the day.
The Mamanator and I crossed a new threshold that day too. It was our first wedding with two babies in tow. Also it was our first wedding with a Two year old. I thought, as I have done previously here, I might take a chance to reflect on weddings as we experience them now compared to yesteryear.
There are two types of weddings when you’re a parent of young (pre-school age) children: With kids or without kids. All the distinctions (formal? Semi-formal? cocktail? sit-down dinner? lunch? church? civil? etc….) simply cease to matter. And that’s because your two-year-old will refuse to let you focus on anything else but him or her for too long. Your 6 month old will cling for dear life to their mother, and (if they are awesome like our baby) spew on a couple of wedding guests through the course of the night.
Now I want to say something before I go on so I am clear. I had a great time. I was exhausted by the end of it and felt like I spent most of my night running around after a particularly energetic and drunk midget, but I loved every second of it, and so did he.
Once upon a time during ceremonies I would sit and take it all in. I would listen to the celebrant/priest/rabbi/shaman/whatever, take in their words and let myself get all emotional at the words bride and groom said to one another. We would sit, stand, gasp, clap, smile and shake hands at the appropriate times. The Mamanator and I would talk to friends and to each other about how beautiful people looked, who was or wasn’t there and raise our eyebrows at any who rolled in a little late.
This time around it was different. Very different. My conversation during the ceremony went like this.
“Look lad, look at the flower’s aren’t they pretty. No, leave them alone don’t go and…. Lad, we need to sit down. Leave the candles. Your auntie is coming very soon. There she is, isn’t she pretty? No, you can’t go over…. come back here. Now Lad, you have to stay still… Yes, the wheels on the bus do go round and round, but not right now. We have to be quiet in the chapel…. Yes mummy’s over there. There is some music. No auntie is busy……”
You get the gist. Ultimately The Mamanator took him outside, he was not sitting still for 25 minutes in such an exciting environment. It was a pity, but it had to be done. The Mamanator was designated Lad Wrangler it because it was my sister getting married and also because I was doing a reading, so had to be inside.
So, that was different.
Once upon a time I was all for swanning about the party, drink in one hand all debonair and witty. Or so I told myself. I chatted, had a beverage or several and enjoyed food and fun.
I managed to pick at the h’orderves, even got a beer. I enjoyed the brief moments of adult conversation I was afforded. I even got to check in on my wife from time to time. But here’s the photo that sums it all up the bulk of the experience:
The lion’s share of my time was spent trailing this little fella around. He ran, swung, climbed and sung. He strutted and engaged in 100 three second conversations with people, trees, tables and chairs. His energy put me to shame. He also had a few playmates at the wedding, which he loved, and they ran around and around and around. As the father of the youngest one there I tailed them all as they ran over grass, hid behind things and generally burned off energy.
So yes, that too was different.
There are the three (maybe there are more, but I haven’t reached them yet) distinct phases in your life, as broken down by the following wedding greetings:
Phase one (the single man): Hi Seamus, you scrubbed up well, looking smart.
Phase two (the married/partnered man – applies at your own wedding too by the way): Hi Seamus, gosh The Mamanator looks great tonight.
Phase three(parent of a little one): Wow. The Lad/Lass/your kids have grown. They’re looking so smart!
The focus of compliments shifts progressively away from you as time wares on. Its a simple fact of life….
Time for chat and time for good food right? Well once it was. The meal at a wedding was a chance to meet random people on your table, enjoy good food and relax between bouts of socialising and mingling.
With The Lad it was a bit different. Like mealtimes at home the focus was different. How can I get him to eat? To be fair he is not a fussy eater, and my sister (and this is a credit to her genius), had a great setup for him. It was planned seating and each spot had a label on it. His spot was a high chair, his label was a gift bag. In the gift bag was a new toy truck. Kept him still for a good 10 minutes – which is no mean feat. So wedding planners, there’s an inspirational idea for you.
His meal arrived early and it was a good choice – fish and chips. I kicked into parent mode and started cutting it up and blowing on it and etc. etc. etc. as the entree started to come out. He was wiggly, talkative and generally pleasant. I couldn’t really leave his side, and I watched with a bit of pride as he ate his fish first and didn’t eat all the chips (which he NEVER does at home by the way).
When mains came around he was presented with a chocolate paddle pop to keep him busy. Which he rejected, asking for crackers instead. There were no crackers so I was able to procure some bread rolls for him from the kitchen, and all was well.
UNTILL…. he got bored, tried to wiggle his way down through the high chair and got his head stuck. I should have strapped him in, but didn’t. I worked with another fellow on the table (coincidentally a professional fire fighter) to extract my son from the chair before resuming the wild goose chase that most of the evening had been. I managed to eat MOST of my meal, so I was not complaining.
My sister was married at a place called Gum Gully Farms. An idyllic little retreat in Silvan, east of Melbourne. It runs petting zoos and activities for youngsters, so one of the staff there was able to take The Lad and two other boys for a run through a hay maze and into a chicken shed. They had a ball. The staff member, however, was somewhat crestfallen when he approached The Mamanator to ask after The Lad. He found out that our boy did not fall straight asleep afterwards. Ours is a two-year old of extraordinary energy…..
While I didn’t get to hear every word of the speeches and I didn’t get to dance as much as I have at other weddings. we had a great time, and so did the kids. My eternal thanks to my sister for managing to plan so well for the kids that were there (they are lucky to have such an aunty).