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Wedding Wednesday: Tiny Ears + Crude Language + Late Party = Mom From The Planet Booron

A friend of my sister’s got married on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago. As was expected, everybody there had a really nice time, stayed up very late and drank far too much. My sister and her friends all had rooms at the hotel and were planning on staying the night. The sister of the groom, Lilly was there, of course, with her young son, Jack (about 4 or 5) and husband – they also had a room.

It was about 2 am and the guests were still at the hotel ballroom partying including Lilly and Jack. Jack, at this point, was dead on his feet and was whining to leave but Lilly wasn’t finished partying and ignored him until . . . one of the guests, Billy, was joking around (beer in hand) telling a rip roaring good story with a string of expletives that clearly wasn’t meant for Jack’s young ears. At this point, Lilly sprang into action, ripped Billy apart for swearing in front of her young son. Billy felt absolutely terrible about it and apologized up one side and down the other but Lilly would have none of it. She continued to berate and humiliate Billy in front of everyone and then stomped off with Jack in hand. After that, Billy and companions all left as well, that clearly ended the party.

My sister felt that Billy really didn’t intend for Jack to hear what he said – and at this point (2 in the morning) didn’t think his story was being told in the vicinity of young children who should have been in bed. Lilly should have dutifully put Jack to bed at a more appropriate time (perhaps midnight since it was New Year’s Eve and his uncle’s wedding) or sent Jack home early with family (like her husband’s parents) or at least, told Billy quietly and nicely that Jack was still there listening instead of humiliating him. 0117-18

Lily had an obligation to provide care for her pre-school-aged son, Jack, who clearly needed to be in bed asleep at 2 a.m.   It sounds to me that Lilly has internal anger or guilt at having this conundrum (enjoy the party while Jack whines to go to bed or be the parent and retire to the hotel room so that Jack can sleep) so she lashes out at Billy.  In a sense it is easier to make Billy the bad guy who forces Lilly to leave the party in the name of defending Jack’s ears from hearing expletives rather than Lilly leaving to take care of her son.

Regardless, it’s boorish behavior that cast a pall over the other wedding guests.


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  • Kate Musso February 21, 2018, 7:04 am

    Back when everyone could smoke everywhere, (and when I smoked), I remember a lady coming into the bar my friends and I were at, and put her baby carrier with a baby in it on the bar. She got a drink for herself and her companion and then kind of yelled at all of us for smoking around her baby. We were all apologetic because of course little babies shouldn’t be inhaling cigarette smoke, but later on I thought hey! Why is your baby around my cigarette smoke?

    • Shoegal February 21, 2018, 8:41 am

      That baby should have never been taken into a bar. Yeah, I would have put out my cigarette too – but really, what mother would want her child in a loud, smokey bar room? A bad one.

    • Ginny February 21, 2018, 9:40 am

      Oh, yeah – don’t get me started about the non-smokers who bring their kids around and then berate others for smoking — I remember one at a bus-stop – entirely in the open – in Harvard Square, where I was leaning against a brick wall in a small patch of shade, smoking a cigarette, when a lady came up next to me (apparently to share the shade…) then noticed my cigarette and yanked her small child back a few feet huffing “come on Joey- WE have to stand in the sun, because THAT lady wants to smoke!” If she had just asked me politely, I would certainly have moved away a bit… Then another time, an older lady asking me condescendingly “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to smoke?” — I just smiled back and said “Why yes, she did — didn’t yours ever tell you not to talk to strangers?”

      • ladyv21454 February 21, 2018, 10:54 am

        Ginny, sometimes smokers can be rude, too. I was waiting at a bus stop one day and a woman standing hear me lit up a cigarette (which was against the rules, but that’s a whole different story). I moved a little way down the pavement and she FOLLOWED ME. After this happened twice more, I finally lost my patience (and my manners, probably) and said, very quietly, “If you follow me again, I am going to put that cigarette out on your face.” She didn’t follow me again!

        But for the record – I have found that the vast majority of smokers are very cooperative if you approach them politely. Example of this: when my son was small, we were standing in a bus shelter while it was raining. A young man came into the shelter and took out a cigarette. I asked if he could please not light up because of my little boy, and he immediately put the cigarette away and said “I can wait!” (Full disclosure: it probably helps that I’m a former smoker myself!)

      • Dee February 21, 2018, 11:55 am

        I’m wondering why it’s important to not smoke around a baby/child but it’s okay to smoke around adults. I grew up with smokers and spent years working in smoking places. It always amazed me that others thought it was okay to pollute the air of others, especially those who had no choice but to be there (children and employees). So I rather wonder if this woman, at the bar, used the baby as an excuse to finally be able to sit in a bar without choking. If it worked, all power to her.

        Smokers still break the rules by hanging around doorways or where others need to pass. It’s a mindset that doesn’t seem to be cured by nicotine patches; it seems the smoking’s not the problem, the person is.

        I’m so grateful my kids can go where they like and do what they want without that horrible stench permeating everything and compromising their health. When bars and pubs had to go non-smoking there was a hue and cry that they would go broke since their main, steady customers wouldn’t go out to drink if they couldn’t smoke, too. I had a bar owner moan about non-smokers ruining their business and it now being those people’s responsibility to come support her business. I told her that I was happy to go when I was younger but the bar owners, her included, pushed me out with the stench, and so I learned to do something much better with my free time. They had openly rejected people like me back then so I was perfectly happy if they went broke now.

      • Susan R February 21, 2018, 12:26 pm

        Ginny, I’m stealing your last line, tucking it away for future use. What an excellent comeback!

      • Dyan February 21, 2018, 1:31 pm

        OH that made me laugh hahah I always think it is none of your beeswax what I do so GOOD for you Ginny!!!

      • kingsrings February 22, 2018, 12:17 am

        My,how things have changed nowadays! When I was a kid, adults smoked around us kids all the time. And nobody ever thought anything of it. It’s much better today of course to not smoke around kids, but it’s just funny to think of how people freak out now and back then they were so complicit.

    • ladyv21454 February 21, 2018, 9:52 am

      Wait a sec – she brought her BABY to a bar – where it is EXPECTED that people will be smoking (or at least was back then) – and then complains about cigarette smoking? I would have been sorely tempted to say that my smoking was doing the baby less harm than the fact that her mother was planning to drive, with the baby in the car, when she’d been drinking.

    • Jane February 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

      Oh my, don’t get me started on babies in bars. I worked at a bar when I was younger that didn’t allow anyone under 21 in after 9:00pm. (We served food too so younger people were welcome in earlier to eat) The amount of parents who would pitch a fit when we wouldn’t let them bring their babies in late at night was astounding. They would claim that babies didn’t count as under 21, and scream at us that we hated children. We even got several poor reviews on Yelp because of this. I always just thought why do you want to bring your baby into a loud crowded bar in the middle of the night anyway???

  • AS February 21, 2018, 7:40 am

    I always wonder where the father is in these kinds of stories. If he had already gone to bed, he should have taken Jack with him, so that Lily can get a little time off without kids. At the very least, Jack should have gone with the grandparents, as the OP pointed out. Jeez! Poor little kid- he probably was grumpy from the lack of sleep the next day!

    • TracyX February 21, 2018, 8:05 am

      Me too! In the 1st paragraph, the husband is mentioned as being there, but then nothing. Why couldn’t he take Jack to bed?

      Still doesn’t excuse Lilly for yelling at someone else like that. I could understand a short “hey, there are kids here, can you try to tone it down a little please?” but thats it.

    • Michelle February 21, 2018, 9:51 am

      I agree that perhaps the husband should have taken Jack with him if he went to the room or Lily could have taken him to the room. left him with his father and came back down to the party. At any rate, Lily could have handled this much better, yet chose to berate and humiliate a guest at her brother’s wedding for using “adult” language at 2 am when most children should be in bed.

    • NostalgicGal February 21, 2018, 1:13 pm

      I will chime in in agreement. There was a husband/father mentioned, if he left the party first he should have taken the boy with him to sleep. That’s the first fail. Second fail is the kid is whining to go to bed, she could have at least taken him back to the room at that point. Unless her husband went to toke and play poker with a few of his buds, he probably was in the room and even trying to sleep which is what the kid needed to do. Third fail is railing off at Billy. 2 am I wouldn’t expect a four year old to be at the party yet. Mreep.

    • BeachMum February 22, 2018, 9:28 am

      I don’t get it. We’ve been taking my children (now teens) to sporting events for years. The language can be salty. If someone right beside is particularly vocal, I might ask them to tone it down. However, usually, I just let it go. If one is going to take one’s children to a place with mostly adults, one must deal with the language. It’s not all that hard to explain to one’s children that some people use words that they shouldn’t, but that we don’t do that. (Obviously, the explanation gets more nuanced as the children get older.)

      If you’re out in public, you don’t get to decide how others act unless it’s actually harming you or your child. Bad language isn’t harmful.

      • Bea February 22, 2018, 8:07 pm

        Ah no, I’ve had plenty of people freak out over colorful language at sporting events. It’s always made me laugh at them because no, I’m not going to worry about their kids in an adult atmosphere.

  • Anonymous February 21, 2018, 8:30 am

    Yeah, this wasn’t just on Lily–if her husband was there too, then he was also responsible for Jack. So, this is a parenting fail on the part of Lily and her husband, and also, what about the idea that there are different times and places that are appropriate for children, for adults, and for children and adults together? I know the lines can get a bit blurred in situations like this, because a four-or-five-year-old might be fine at a wedding ceremony (because most kids start kindergarten at that age, and some of them might attend weekly church services, and be used to sitting still there), and they might even be fine at the dinner part of the wedding reception (because their parents might have started teaching them restaurant manners, so this isn’t much different), and, okay, some kids like to dance, so maybe they can stay for a few dances after the meal, as long as the father-daughter dance, the first dance as a couple, et cetera, don’t drag on for too long. But keeping a child at a party, even if it’s New Year’s Eve and his uncle’s wedding, until after 2 a.m., just isn’t right. Besides the late hour, and the child’s need for sleep, people are going to let down their hair as the festivities progress, and go from “prim and proper” at the ceremony, to telling stories with profanity and sexual innuendo in the later hours of the reception. That’s just human nature, and I’d say that it’s much easier to put your child to bed at a reasonable hour, than it is to try to change human nature.

    P.S., As for the “sleep” side of things, I think this matters whether it’s a toddler or preschooler who turns into a pumpkin after the dinner hour, or an older child who might have sports practice/dance class/homework to do the next day, or even another adult who doesn’t wish to stay at the party until the wee hours of the night, but has to stay until their ride is ready to leave (because, public transit doesn’t run at night, taxis and Ubers don’t go everywhere and can be prohibitively expensive on New Year’s Eve, et cetera). Even taking the “child” part out of the equation, Lily kept Jack at the wedding reception much longer than he wanted to be there, and that was inconsiderate.

  • JD February 21, 2018, 9:55 am

    Poor Billy and poor Jack! I seriously doubt Billy expected a child to be there at 2 a.m., so he gets a pass, and if I had been a guest and seen that poor little boy still awake at that hour, I would have been thinking not-nice thoughts about Lilly. She was dead wrong to humiliate Billy and dead wrong to have a child up at that hour of the night/morning. It was nice of Billy to apologize and not come back with “What’s a kid that age doing up now, anyway?” Which I would have been tempted to say, were I him.

  • staceyizme February 21, 2018, 10:28 am

    Neither party comes off well here. Expletives aren’t necessary to embellish a story for any audience and Billy wouldn’t have been put in the position of apologizing if he hadn’t developed the unfortunate habit of using them for emphasis. However, mom was also out of line- not for letting her son stay up (nobody ever expired due to one late night, even at the tender age of 4), but for visiting her ire on those also in company. I think a parent in these circumstances does have an obligation to remove their child from the scene (because this will happen in bars, at church in the parking lot, at the grocery store and on the school bus) and also an obligation to teach their children how they should address the question of language. Policing the conduct of others is a risky business. (But so is the unfortunately common habit of behaving badly and then defending it on the grounds that a specific venue, be it a bar, a club or a movie house, have somehow become the “safe zone” for profanity, gratuitously suggestive or violent narratives and acts, and other behaviors that aren’t ideal. We all have a few words that we employ at our own risk and if there’s a culturally acceptable tone deafness to them in certain social contexts, I don’t count that as a virtue.)

  • jokergirl129 February 21, 2018, 10:56 am

    This is a major fail on Lilly’s part. It was bad enough that she was ignoring Jack just so she can party longer but then she had to go and humiliate Billy because he was telling a story with curses in it. It’s really sad that Billy had to be berated like that because he did nothing wrong. Jack should have been put in bed and fast asleep hours ago and who’s to say that Billy was even aware that Jack was still awake and in the room. Any decent parent would have put their child to bed by then. Also like other’s had pointed out where was Lilly’s husband in all of this?

    Why didn’t he take Jack back to the hotel room and put him to bed if Lilly’s husband left the party early. Did Lilly tell him she would bring Jack down a little later and that ended up turning into several hours later? And if that was the case then you would have to wonder why he didn’t come back up wondering what was taking so long unless the husband ended up going to sleep early and wasn’t aware of the fact that Lilly kept their son up until two in the morning at the time.

    Either way Lilly was being selfish by ignoring her son’s need to go to sleep and was being completely unreasonable to humiliate and berate Billy so badly in front of everyone because he was telling a story with curse words.

  • Devin February 21, 2018, 12:39 pm

    I want to start off with saying that appropriate children’s bedtimes is a cultural issue and parental issue, not for us to judge. Since the OP doesn’t say other children were still up as well, I’ll assume this isn’t a cultural thing and since the child was fading he also isn’t accustomed to late nights.
    In this case the parents handled this situation poorly. Even if the child wasn’t fading, they should have read the room and realized it’s getting late, the other children are gone, the alcohol is still flowing and adult language and behavior is occurring; time to excuse themselves and their child. Just like with the last wedding story, if they wanted to party all night they should have hired a sitter or made plans in advance. Her behavior is the reason couples opt for child free weddings; parents like these don’t use common sense when it comes to their own children if it spoils their fun.

  • Semperviren February 21, 2018, 2:03 pm

    Having a child doesn’t entitle one to micromanage other adults, especially in a clearly “adult” environment.

    If I was the bride (or host) I wouldn’t appreciate Lilly’s behavior.

  • JJ February 21, 2018, 3:15 pm

    And this is precisely why some weddings are going more and more for no kids or no kids past a certain cut off time once the booze starts flowing like say around 9:00 pm or earlier. It’s not poor Jack’s fault that his mom is more obsessed with her own need to party then to bring him to bed but her or her husband should have stepped up and one of them taken him to bed. I mean 2 am! That is crazy late for a kid especially a young one. This is why I couldn’t have a wedding with a lot of parents of young kids invited unless I made it clear it was no kids because you just don’t know what kind of parents are going to attend with their kids. Will they be considerate parents who take their kid to bed early or to a babysitter or will they be entitled party parents who think their cranky kid needs to be unleashed on the room till the very end?

    And Billy did no wrong by talking how grown ups talk at social events when it’s clearly late at night at an adult party. If Lily doesn’t want her kid to hear that language she shouldn’t have taken him out before 9:00 or earlier after it’s adult time no pity for her or Jack if he hears adult stuff. I bet Lilly is the same person who would take her kid to a 10pm movie showing of a violent, curse filled adult action or comedy film then walk out offended that the movie had bad words. Or drag her kid to a bar then get mad at all the legal adults in the bar for cursing and talking about adult topics in front of her precious. Billy was nicer then me because if she had yelled at me like that 2am for being an adult at an adult function I’d have laughed in her face and swore some more so little Jack could hear it. I would not be apologizing to her and acting like she and Jack were some poor victims.

  • esmerita February 21, 2018, 7:59 pm

    Being a lot younger than my siblings, there are several photos of me asleep under a table or on a lounge at a wedding or other celebration.
    I see no reason why Billy wasn’t settled in this way if his parents weren’t ready to leave. If he were that tired, even loud profanities would not have disturbed him.

    • esmerita February 21, 2018, 10:07 pm

      Whoops! I meant Jack, not Billy!

  • Tanya February 21, 2018, 10:32 pm

    I think it’s very interesting – and disappointing – that the OP mentions that the father was in attendance, but seems to blame the entire incident on Lilly. Why is the father not being censured for keeping his preschooler up until a ridiculous time of the morning? Why is it not mentioned where the father was, or why he hadn’t taken the child to bed? Both parents are responsible for their child’s welfare. And missing things you want to attend/continue to attend is a part of parenthood. You try to make alternative arrangements (such as a babysitter who could have taken Jack back to his hotel room to sleep) but if that’s not possible then you as the parent miss out. It’s just the way it goes.

    I feel sorry for Billy and Jack. Jack should not have been left awake so long, I’m appalled that his parents thought it was OK to keep him up so late. And I think it would have been very easy for Billy to not notice Jack was there. Bad parenting and bad behaviour on Lilly’s part.

  • AJ February 21, 2018, 11:12 pm

    By loudly berating Billy, Lilly was deflecting the fact that she’s a crappy parent by forcing a young child to “party” to 2am with her on to Billy for doing something wrong by her child. Misdirection by making Billy the issue, not her crappy parenting decisions.

  • tessa February 22, 2018, 6:45 am

    Somehow I’m guessing that good judgement on everyone’s part was impaired by adult beverages. Pity the little one.

  • OP February 22, 2018, 8:33 am

    I asked my sister on clarification on where the father was because I really didn’t know. Turns out, the father was already asleep in bed in his room. Lilly’s mother, so Jack’s grandmother was also there too asleep in her room. Two places Jack could have been put down. Jack cried and didn’t want to go to bed when the father and grandmother had gone up which was about midnight so Lilly had allowed him to stay up with her.

  • Kay February 24, 2018, 1:41 pm

    This is entirely on her to care for her child and keep it out of inappropriate situations. The gall to have a child up that late on NYE and then to start a fight with another guest over it. She was totally inappropriate to have the child there at that hour.

  • Snowy March 6, 2018, 12:39 am

    If you put your child in an adult situation (party + 2 am), you are agreeing to have your child be exposed to certain adult situations. Like swearing, smoking, and drinking. Perhaps underwear. (But not nudity or anything that would be illegal.) You have chosen to have your kid there, you do not get to choose to make others the bad guys, or force the event to turn into Romper Room, too.