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Wedding Wednesday – Instant Child Care Attendant

This happened to me about 30 years ago. I attended the wedding of a male college friend. The bride, D, did not like me and never had. It was a sweltering summer day, very humid and in the 90s. The wedding was in a historic chapel with lots of marble and stained glass.

I was seated on the center aisle near the back of the chapel. Just before the processional, a bridesmaid that I had never met rushed up to me and plopped her 2-year-old daughter in the pew next to me. She said, “D told me you would watch her during the ceremony”. She then rushed off to join the processional.

The little girl that I will call C immediately burst into tears. I don’t blame her. She didn’t know me, and her Mommy had just left her there. I tried to comfort her, but before I could take her out of the chapel, the processional started. I couldn’t leave with C unless I went out in the middle of the wedding party. Little C in her lacy pink dress was screaming by that time. As D passed by, she just glared. D knew that I was not comfortable with small children. I like kids, I’m just not very good with them.

As soon as the bride passed, I scooped up poor little C and took her outside the chapel doors. The narthex was also marble, so the screams were echoing and deafening. My only choice was to take her outside, so we wouldn’t disturb any more of the ceremony. I walked down the street about a block to make sure we were far enough away. It was stifling hot. I was looking for a store or public place with air conditioning, so we could cool off. No luck. After about 45 minutes, I walked back to the chapel. By this time, C and I were dripping wet and stuck together. I think she also had a wet diaper, but it was hard to tell. Even if I could have found a place to change her diaper, I didn’t have a diaper bag or any supplies.

I finally gave C back to her Mom. My dress was ruined, wet and sticking to me. Both C and I were dripping with sweat. I didn’t know who to be more disgusted with, D or the mother who dumped her scared child on a total stranger.  0502-18

{ 63 comments }
{ 63 comments… add one }
  • T-Belle May 9, 2018, 5:00 am

    I don’t know if I would have even taken the child out of the chapel, much less the building. As long as she wasn’t getting into any harm and was only sitting there squawling, I might try to calm her, but if nothing worked, not my problem.

    And afterward if I received chastising from anyone, then I’d simply ask what do you expect when a stranger’s child is dumped on you at last minute.

    I would hope the OP got a thank you at least from the mother, and apologies too, though I have a feeling it’s not likely.

    • T-Belle May 9, 2018, 7:49 am

      Oops, I misspelled ‘squalling.’

      • SS May 9, 2018, 9:59 am

        Nope… the dictionary says either spelling is correct. You were right the first time. and the second time. 😀

  • Redblues May 9, 2018, 5:51 am

    You bore it with far more grace than I could have. Screaming toddler? I would have left. Without the toddler.

    • Michelle May 9, 2018, 8:18 am

      I would have left, too, but dropped the child with it’s mother as I exited. She’s in the processional? Too bad, should have made sure you had childcare and not dumped your kid on a stranger.

      • NostalgicGal May 9, 2018, 1:18 pm

        I agree. Dump a kid on me and I’m leaving and not looking back. Middle of processional? Tough. Mama’s in the processional, fine, here’s the kid, hasta-la-byebye I got places I got to be. D opens her face to me? Gonna tell her right off what happened and have-a-good-life. D can blame the mother that did the kid dump off for why everything got mucked up. I am not a little little kid person, I’m not staying. I’m afraid as soon as mama turned around I would’ve been right behind her and still moving as fast as I made the doors, I might even pass the mama before we got to the back. No. No free sitting. Nope. No.

        • NostalgicGal May 9, 2018, 1:23 pm

          The other would be to let them pass, take the kid outside and call 911. Tell them you have an unknown child with you and it needs to be picked up immediately. Let the police come, tell them the truth, you have no idea whose child this is, please take her away because it’s hot. Then go the other way and go home. Disavowing all knowledge of kid, that you didn’t agree to take care of her, and you have no idea who she is… (that’s my snark side, but would serve well on those that volunteered you for this job….)

        • Callalily Montez May 11, 2018, 12:16 pm

          I’m going to have to add hasta-la-byebye to my vocabulary.

    • LRS May 9, 2018, 9:12 am

      Despite the wrongness of the situation, I can’t imagine anyone abandoning a crying child like that. Would you at least have foisted her off on the nearest adult?

      • Sarah May 9, 2018, 4:19 pm

        No, it’s not some other stranger’s problem.

      • GeenaG May 9, 2018, 4:29 pm

        A strangers crying child in a safe situation is not my problem and no one gets to make it into one for me.

      • NostalgicGal May 11, 2018, 8:21 pm

        I would have sent her to her mama. She’s right there, go on…

    • Sarah May 9, 2018, 4:18 pm

      Me too! I would have changed my seat to the other side of the church. I didn’t come to a wedding to be babysitter, and especially if I have to take the child down the block and miss the whole ceremony. The mother should have asked her husband or if that wasn’t an option, hired a babysitter in advance.

  • Devin May 9, 2018, 7:05 am

    I’d place 90% of this on the bridesmaid. Who doesnt plan for childcare when they are in a wedding party till moments before the processional? Even if her baby sitter bailed, she must have known more than 2 minutes prior. Plus as the mother, I would think by two she would know how her child handles strangers and new situations. The minute the screams started, I can’t belive the mother didn’t come back. For this to have lasted through the processional she would have had to walk right past her own screaming child. A simple question, “ does anyone mind watching her during the ceremony?” Would have likely garnered multiple volunteers who either love children or have several of their own to play with the toddler.
    I’m like you, not familiar with children and haven’t not spent much time around them as an adult. I would have sat right there with the wailing child till the mother came back. I’m sure I’d get some glares from other people but it’s not my child and I don’t have the right to remover her, that’s call kidnapping!

    • Rose May 9, 2018, 6:06 pm

      I get the impression that the Bride assured the BM OP would love to watch the baby during the ceremony. Why else would she give her baby to a stranger?

    • EchoGirl May 9, 2018, 11:34 pm

      Yeah, this could have been planned/handled better. At my cousin’s wedding, his sister was a bridesmaid and her (3 yo) son was the ringbearer; she’d made it halfway down the aisle before he ran after her, crying. She doubled back for him, carried him down the aisle, consoled him, and then handed him off to her then-fiance to take him back to the back of the room so he could walk in with the flower girl. It might have been a small disruption, but the kid was calmed and calamity did not ensue. Likewise, as you say, the bridesmaid in this story had to have realized her child was screaming, and it seems she was more interested in making sure the child didn’t interfere with her “duties” than with actually taking care of her.

    • NicoleK May 11, 2018, 1:00 pm

      I think the bride told bridesmaid that LW WAS the designated babysitter

  • cleosia May 9, 2018, 7:40 am

    The timing was telling. She wanted you to miss the wedding as you were given the child at a point where you couldn’t gracefully refuse.

    I suspect she thinks your friend and you were more than just friends in college and was being vindictive.

    • Livvy17 May 9, 2018, 9:18 am

      I never understand people who are 1)jealous over past failed relationships, 2) are evil to the past lovers of their current love. It didn’t work out; you’re with that person now; what’s to be angry about?

      I agree though, it certainly seems like the bride was out to sabotage the OP in any way possible. I just wonder if the BM was in cahoots, or manipulated in some way (promised childcare by the bride, only to have plans changed at last second/lies told about OP’s willingness) Regardless, under normal circumstances, I can’t imagine dumping my 2 year old on someone I’ve never ever met.

      • ladyv21454 May 9, 2018, 11:47 am

        Livvy17, I feel the same way. I’ve been on the receiving end of unhappiness from guys who have learned that current male friends also happen to be ex-lovers. Maybe it’s because I’m a totally non-jealous person, but I just don’t understand that attitude.

    • SS May 9, 2018, 10:00 am

      As soon as I saw the mother in the processional, I would have pointed her out to the child and told the child to go to her mom.

      • Dee May 9, 2018, 11:41 am

        Yep – the poor kid is hysterical being away from her mom, and there’s her mom! Problem solved!

      • Garden Gal May 10, 2018, 12:06 pm

        Perfect!

    • SaucyMarla May 9, 2018, 10:15 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking.

      • AFS May 9, 2018, 3:14 pm

        Oh yeah–the SO often resents the opposite-sex best friend at best. My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law’s husband (still following?) wanted to have his best (female) friend as “best woman” during their wedding last year. SiL of SiL wasn’t groovy with that (or with would-be best woman, for that matter) and re-engineered her now-husband’s wedding to demote his best friend to groomswoman (and in the process, making fun of the size dress GW ordered.)

        I won’t even touch the antics of my college dude friend’s GF.

  • Wild Irish Rose May 9, 2018, 8:27 am

    Wow. Mother of the Year much? Sheesh. It reminds me of the time I was on a bus from Denver to St. Louis, and when we reached Kansas City, a strange woman plopped her child in my lap “for a minute” so she could–oh, I don’t even remember what she was doing! Anyway, the kid promptly wet all over me, and I sat there for the next several hours soaked and angry. No chance to change until I got to St. Louis.

    To mothers of small children: Do everybody a favor and take care of your OWN child! If that means you pay someone reliable–as in, someone you know and trust–while you stand up in a friend’s wedding, then do it. This is why God gave us babysitters.

    • BeachMum May 10, 2018, 8:17 am

      Sometimes you don’t have any options.

      Years ago, when I was travelling alone with my two children — ages six months and 2.5 years — we were going through security at the airport. The baby didn’t stand yet, the floor was wet, and the TSA wouldn’t help me fold my stroller. I asked (notice that I didn’t demand), if he could either help me fold the stroller or hold my baby for a moment. He held the baby. I folded the stroller and put it on the belt. Then I took back my baby, thanked him profusely, and went through the metal detector.

      Had he said no, I would have asked louder if someone in line could help me.

  • JD May 9, 2018, 9:20 am

    I doubt I would have had the wits about me to have thought of it at the time, had I been OP, but to me, the perfect response to that would be to stay there in the chapel and let the child scream if she so chose. I don’t say ignore the poor tot– try to comfort her, but if she’s screaming, and wails throughout the wedding in spite of your efforts, that’s not your fault. If she “ruins” the wedding, well, bride and bridesmaid have themselves to thank, don’t they?
    If anyone had given OP an evil look or made a comment, OP could have calmly explained, “Sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t even know this child or her mother. She was dumped on me just as the wedding started.”

    • dippy May 9, 2018, 11:24 am

      who’s kid is this? It just appeared next to me! 😉

  • staceyizme May 9, 2018, 9:56 am

    You should have used your voice and said “no”. Any resultant drama would have had nothing to do with you. People who attempt to use the leverage of urgency must be discouraged immediately, firmly and without apology. What if something had transpired while the child was in your care? You allowed your own day to be ruined trying to resolve an issue that wasn’t within your purview and for which you had no appropriate resources (diaper bag, quiet place with air conditioning to hold the child etc…). The m0m-monster should have taken her own childcare arrangements more to heart and the bride should have been publicly rebuffed for her presumption with a chilly, firm and pronounced “NO, that will not be possible!”.

    • lakey May 9, 2018, 11:41 am

      I agree. Already knowing that the bride dislikes you gives you a certain amount of freedom. You have nothing to lose by saying “no”. You’re never going to be besties anyway, so who cares if she’s upset. The problem is that when someone does something outrageous, we’re so stunned that we don’t say anything.

      • staceyizme May 14, 2018, 9:07 am

        I agree that there can be less pressure with people that you aren’t close to (or who actively dislike you, as in this instance). That said, I also believe that it’s important to use your “no” as appropriate/ as needed in close relationships. Most of us know the foibles of our nearest and dearest and are willing to bear with some of them. But clear violations of reasonable boundaries need to be called out early on and consistently in order to avoid ongoing resentment, anxiety and excessive drama when sanity eventually forces you to choke out “no!”. I will admit that I came to this lesson quite late in life, but practice makes perfect! When we each realize that “we’re all in this together” fails to negate any whit of “each person must manage their own lives”, the world becomes a more peaceful place. I personally think it has something to do with the clarity and integrity that comes from not crossing the boundaries of others (nor allowing them to cross mine).

  • Rinme May 9, 2018, 10:01 am

    Oh my. That’s probably one of the worst stories on here. Who dumps their baby on a stranger?

  • DGS May 9, 2018, 10:12 am

    Wow, OP, I am so sorry this happened to you. Also, what kind of a parent just dumps a child on a stranger’s lap? No wonder the poor kid freaked out. Just, no.

  • Dyan May 9, 2018, 10:15 am

    I have to say I would have stood up and walked out,,,not my child not my problem. HOW dare they do that to a guest..and I would have taken my gift back…so there .. 🙂

  • AFS May 9, 2018, 10:16 am

    Effectively the bride and her bridesmaid (her close friend/relative) dumped a two-year-old on you without your or the child’s consent, knowing that it would make for an uncomfortable experience for you. Throw it back at the bride and let a two-year-old wail throughout the nasty bride’s wedding.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 9, 2018, 8:50 pm

      That’s exactly what I would have done. I would have sat in the pew, not moved and let the child scream through the entire ceremony.

    • AFS May 9, 2018, 9:42 pm

      Addendum: @OP: Were you able to get one-on-one time with your friend to explain how you got efficiently exiled from his wedding? Also, are they still married?

  • Semperviren May 9, 2018, 10:38 am

    I really try not to be that mommy-judgey person but….she handed her toddler off to a total stranger. Who left the area for 45 minutes with her (thank God the OP is clearly a benign and kind person, but). What?

    OP, it was really exceptionally kind of you to tend to this child during the ceremony. You had zero obligation here and the bride really stuck it to you. And I’m guessing you received no thank you, not from the child’s mother, or the bride, or even your friend the groom (assuming he even knew about it).

  • Gena May 9, 2018, 10:42 am

    Never mind the bride – the mother is completely at fault here. childcare was HER responsibility, not the brides, And even if the bride said you’d be happy to watch child, most caring parents would have at least spoken to you and not just dumped the child and ran.

    Agree- I would have just sat there with the child.

  • jokergirl129 May 9, 2018, 11:09 am

    What kind of a mother dumps her child on a total stranger at the last minute? Even if D had been lying to the mother about how OP would take care of C it’s still weird that the mother would just go along with it like that. It also makes me wonder if the mother even had babysitting arrangements to begin with and if she did and something happen then surely there was someone else at the chapel that mother and C knew better that could look after the kid. The mother didn’t even think to give OP a diaper bag with supplies needed and I would hope she had one somewhere.

    And if D ever complained about C crying she had no one to blame but herself. Seriously I don’t know if she thought OP and Friend used to be in a relationship or if she disliked him hanging out with any females but that’s entirely her issue (and something of a red flag I should add). Kind of makes me wish OP would come on here and say if anything happened later on that day or if she knew if any issues her friend had with D after the wedding.

  • ladyv21454 May 9, 2018, 11:11 am

    This HAD to have been planned in advance. Either the bridesmaid called the bride in a panic because her babysitter bailed on her, and the bride told her, “Oh, I have someone who will be just THRILLED to watch little Chilipepper during the wedding!”; or the bride and the bridesmaid are REALLY close and bride enlisted her friend’s help to make OP’s life hell. I’d like to think it’s option A – but in either case, what kind of mother just dumps her child on a stranger?

  • Mae May 9, 2018, 11:18 am

    So a woman you have never met just dropped her child off with you at a wedding and you watched the child? Nope, nope, nope. The child should have been returned to her mother before she walked away or during the processional. If the child’s crying and clinging to her mother “ruined” the wedding, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    Honestly curious question: If the bride “did not like you and never had”, why did you attend the wedding at all? If I was invited to the wedding of someone who I knew did not like me, well that’s what the decline option is for.

    • EchoGirl May 10, 2018, 7:31 pm

      OP explained that in the story, she was friends with the groom (who presumably did like her); she accepted an invitation to *his* wedding (i.e. the wedding of a friend), which happened to be to someone who didn’t like OP.

  • sillyme May 9, 2018, 11:37 am

    Someone else may have posted this; I haven’t read all the comments. But just in case, here goes:
    Who is SWEET JE-ZUS’S NAME leaves their 2-year-old alone with a total stranger, and what kind of neglectful (to put it at its most polite) mom then fails to call the police when that stranger takes that toddler out of the building, down the block, to G-d-knows-where for nearly an hour??

    I realize your post is for how rude this was to you, and you’ll get no argument from me, but I’m gobsmacked at the neglect and abandonment of the child. Thank goodness you were a reasonable, mature, responsible human being, but how was SHE to know that if you’d never met? She just took the bride’s word for it? When the bride didn’t like you?

    I can’t wrap my head around that.

    • KenderJ May 11, 2018, 7:00 pm

      The OP says this wedding happened 30 years ago. 30 years ago, the world and parenting were very different. Children were watched by strangers all the time and, usually, nothing bad happened. Nobody would have thought anything about OP taking the child out of the church and down the block. Back then, children played in their own fenced yards unsupervised, adults (even strangers) were comfortable chastising children that were misbehaving and the parent usually thanked the chastisers for the help. I’m not saying it was better or worse, but it was very different.

  • Yuchin Robb May 9, 2018, 11:47 am

    Luckily in those 45 minutes when you were with baby girl C, no one realized a minor went missing, otherwise you might have been wanted for kidnapping, even child smuggling if someone willing.
    I don’t have children and never changed a diaper in my life. I feel blessed that no one ever mistook me for mother material and entrusted little kids totally on me.

  • metallicafan May 9, 2018, 4:13 pm

    I don’t believe this. Who would leave their baby with a total stranger?

    • KenderJ May 11, 2018, 7:02 pm

      Thirty years ago? Everybody all the time.

  • Bea May 9, 2018, 5:38 pm

    How ridiculous! I love kids but that doesn’t mean I’m going to soothe a child who is in distress due to their mom abandoning the little girl. I would have done similar to you.

    It’s sad but if you know someone doesn’t like you, why would you accept an invite to their wedding? I’m shocked she went to an extreme but that couldn’t have been her only outburst at you. I know the groom was a friend but you need to take the bride’s feelings into consideration in that situation.

  • Me May 9, 2018, 6:22 pm

    Lol!! I would not have hesitated looking quite baffled at the mom, saying “sorry, not me” and then sitting there throughout the service ignoring the child (I would never allow the child to be hurt or wander off, but I also wouldn’t comfort, cuddle or hold because it could be construed wrongly ). One time in an airport in Chicago, there was an unattended 3 year old, and no one knew where the parents were. All of us knew not to pick up the child, let alone walk off with it, so without discussion, we all just formed a circle around the child until the parents finally showed up. As the child at the wedding continued to cry, I would show her where her mother was and tell her to go get her. 🙂

  • Lisa May 9, 2018, 6:54 pm

    Wow! I am speechless. I love kids, and I am good with them, but no way would I have stood for this. My polite spine would have kicked in and immediately said NO, sorry, and left the vicinity.

  • Otterpop May 9, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Your efforts were very thoughtful even though it backfired on you. I would have taken the child out into the foyer, not outside the building. It seems helpful, you are still in the air conditioning and since her cries echoed, someone would have been along to help you out. Her cries are not your problem, they are her mothers. No way would I have walked down the street with a stranger’s child, especially in that heat. Hope no one ever foists a kid on you like that again.

  • Asharah May 9, 2018, 8:40 pm

    Shouldn’t have left the chapel. Do your best with the child and if she screams through the whole ceremony, I would say D got what she deserved for volunteering you to babysit. The other choice is to march up the aisle mid-ceremony and hand her back to her mother. Not your kid, not your problem.

  • AJ May 9, 2018, 10:19 pm

    I might have picked up the child, walked up the aisle to the mother, handed the child to her, say: “It’s not happening” and turned to walk out with a steely glare at the bride. But as I’ve grown older the number of f***s I have to give has decreased significantly. 😀

    • admin May 10, 2018, 7:39 am

      No, you wouldn’t because then you would be a drama queen in the middle of a wedding ceremony. Every eye in that church would have been glued on you.

      • Saucygirl May 10, 2018, 9:54 am

        I probably wouldn’t have walked down aisle for reason admin said. But I’d have no problem placing the kid in the aisle and telling her it was okay for her to go to her mom herself.

      • NostalgicGal May 13, 2018, 2:12 pm

        I’d take being tagged the Drama Queen because I hadn’t agreed and I wasn’t going to do it and I was no longer going to be remaining either. Hand over the kid and leave and don’t look back. If that’s drama, okay. I didn’t start the drama (by having the kid plopped down by me and I didn’t know mom or kid and I certainly hadn’t agreed to sit anybody’s kid) and I won’t be remaining.

  • Shannon May 10, 2018, 12:59 pm

    As usual, the comments are full of Monday morning quarterbacks who would have responded perfectly and immediately to everything. Sigh.

    In the real world, it’s far more likely you would be dumbstruck if someone did something crazy like dump a random child in your lap, and you would not have a response at the ready. It’s a rare soul who can turn on a dime in this sort of situation.

    At this point, the “I would have given the child right back!” posts are veering into victim blaming territory.

    • Emmy May 15, 2018, 7:53 am

      I agree, it’s easy for us to read the situation and think about what we would have done (or liked to have done). The OP was put in a situation where the was no gracious way out, the choice was either cause a scene or take the child. If it was me, I would have liked to hand the baby to the bride as she walked down the aisle and tell her she was mistaken about who the babysitter was. In reality, I probably just would have taken the kid in the foyer and tried to comfort her although I would have been tempted to let the child wail throughout the ceremony. If the bride complained about it you could let her know that you are not a babysitter and she got what she paid for (although that would be hard to do if all the other guests are turning around to give YOU dirty looks because they think you are responsible for the child).

  • Julie May 10, 2018, 2:02 pm

    Poor child! I’m thankful my parents never did that to me and I have no intention of doing that to my own children. That mother didn’t even leave a diaper bag or anything. Poor kid could have had gotten a heat stroke with severe dehydration.

    I have attended a few events in my life where childcare was supposed to be provided. Of course, I get there and it’s a couple of college kids with coloring books. Unless they’re getting degrees in childcare, I cannot realistically leave my rambunctious (un-potty trained) toddler with them. Now I only leave my kids with people that I pay and trust. You really do pay for what you get!

  • NicoleK May 11, 2018, 12:57 pm

    I don’t blame the bridesmaid, she was told you were the babysitter, why would she assume the bride lied?

  • imc May 17, 2018, 10:00 am

    This whole scenario was rude beyond belief. Certainly, by today’s standards. But I’m wondering at how any diferent reaction from the LW would have been judged 30 years ago.
    It’s true that at the time childcare was a much more laid-back affaire. Children would often play unsupervised in their neighborhood and any adult passerby would contribute in keeping an eye on them and even chastise them for excessive unruly behavior. Which makes me wonder wether the LW refusing to just look after a child left in her proximity would have actually been considered stranger that the mother dropping the child on her. In that context, she wasn’t a stranger per se. She was someone the mother didn’t know, but whom one of her best friends (the bride) knew and vouched for. She was also a person who was supposed to remain in close proximity to the celebration, being invited to the wedding and all.

    Would I have dropped my child on a virtual stranger five seconds before performing in a wedding? No.
    Was it rude of the mother and the bride to drop the child on LW and proceed to ignore her wailing during and after the procession? Yes.
    Did LW really have any choice but care for the child during the duration of the cerimony and would she have been judged ungraciously by the rest of the group if she had just left the child there and walked away and/or if she had showed no sign of trying to console her, regardless of the fact that she was a stranger? Possibile.

    All in all, I think LW went above and beyond what was required of her in walking around in scorching heat with the child, just so that she wouldn’t disturb the wedding (and even being willing to change the child, if she had the diapers bag). Which makes me think she did have some inkling of the fact that she’d be considered generally responsible for her crying whatever she said or did in that church.
    She also played right into the bride’s hand, though, in leaving the church. And for those saying that she should have taken the bride’s feelings into consideration before accepting her invite: no. That was the groom’s job. He’s much more required than LW to take the bride’s feelings into consideration and if he nevertheless wanted LW at his wedding that should have been sufficient for LW. She didn’t need to question the invite further or assume the guilt of maybe displeasing the bride by showing up.

    With hindsight, the best solution would have been to wait for the procession to be over, then point the child to her mommy and have her join her. Or stay more or less close by so that the child could see her. There can’t be that many duties that a bridesmaid has to attend to, after the procession, that she cannot have her own child close to her.

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