Horror stories involving children
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I just have to share a quick story. I may have committed a bit
of a faux pas here myself but...well...you'll understand when you read the
story, I think.
I got married a few years ago at a small, backyard wedding. My
husband and I had agreed on something rather quiet and inexpensive, but it was a
formal wedding and I had a full gown. There were only 40 guests and no
professional entertainment or anything, and it went pretty much perfectly. I was
to enter the ceremony by walking down the rather long steps of the back deck and
onto a white runner laid on the grass that was to serve as the aisle. I was
incredibly nervous, being that I was wearing a huge dress and heels (which I'd
worn about once before in my life) and struggling to get down the deck stairs
without falling and killing myself. (There's a reason I'm explaining this.)
Anyway, everyone is quiet. As I mentioned before, we had no
professional entertainment, so there was no music or anything. I'm partway down
the stairs when my cousin, 11 or 12 years old, starts to YELL "The Wedding
March" very loudly--you know, "Do do do dooo, do do do dooooo!!"
My aunt and uncle don't stop him. This continues for several verses and in my
panic as I'm clumsily making my way onto the white runner, I smile and hiss to
my mother (who has come up to help me) "Make him stop!" Everybody
laughs (so apparently I wasn't as quiet as I meant to be) and my cousin stops
serenading us. I was really embarrassed to act like that but I felt that the
singing was ruining the moment. I would have understood if he was much younger
but come on, at his age he should have known better. Anyway, do you think I
shouldn't have said anything?
My six-year-old cousin -- we'll call him Billy -- was the ring bearer
at our wedding. Apart from some judicious fidgeting during the ceremony, he made
a tremendous effort to be a gentleman and display all the good manners his
parents had taught him. But he kept on coming up just a little bit short ...
Our story begins in front of the church, immediately before
the rehearsal. Billy would be sitting with the groomsmen the next day, so I took
him around and introduced him in hopes that he would find them familiar. He was
charming and friendly throughout, and then took me by the hand, said, "Now
I have somebody I want you to meet," and led me over to the grandfather we
both share. "Granddad, I want you to meet my cousin. D. D, this is my
Granddad," he said, perfectly serious and apparently unaware that Granddad
and I did know each other slightly. Granddad and I shook hands and managed to
laugh quietly enough that Billy didn't realize.
At the end of the rehearsal dinner, we passed out attendant
gifts; my fiancé had chosen a plastic light saber for Billy, which was a huge
hit. In fact, he was so excited by it that when he ran back to say thank you, he
forgot which of his cousins I was and wound up thanking our cousin
"Beth." (Cousin? Check. Girl? Check. Taller than him? Check. I can see
how he'd get confused.) Beth turned him around to face me, said, "You want
this one, sweetie," and he thanked me again without missing a beat.
And then, ten minutes later, the piece de resistance. He'd
been eating with the three-year-old flower girl and her two-year-old cousin,
"Ann," whose parents had advised us she didn't like crowds and
probably wouldn't be happy as a co-flower-girl. We'd waited to hand out
attendants' gifts until Ann was out of the room, since we didn't have anything
for her (in all the chaos, it had never occurred to us!) and didn't want her to
feel left out. But never fear! After the gifts were all distributed and opened,
Billy walked up to me, leading little Ann by the hand. "Um, where's her
present?" he asked me earnestly. "I don't want it to get left
Luckily, Ann was completely unaware of what was going on and
chose that moment to wander off in the direction of her dad. I explained to
Billy that he and the flower girl had gotten their presents now because we were
so happy they were part of our wedding, and that Ann would be getting hers at
Christmas. He was satisfied.
So, that's Billy. He did a great job at the wedding, managed
to sit (mostly) quietly through an hour long service (although I suspect that
some of the groomsmen may have aided and abetted him in Rock, Paper, Scissors),
was incredibly excited by the ride in the limousine, and tore up the dance floor
at the reception. His manners may be a little rough around the edges now, but I
wouldn't be surprised if he were in the "Perfect Groom" section in
twenty or thirty years.
About a year before our wedding, my aunt and uncle and their
three kids were visiting. Their youngest two, 8 and 6 at the time, were
going to be our flower girl and ring bearer. So one day all the girls, plus the
young boy cousin, decided to go to a movie. Afterwards we stopped at Starbucks,
and while we were getting situated and talking a bit about the upcoming wedding,
my flower girl to-be asked, "M, can I see your ring?" Of course I
obliged and stuck my hand towards the rear of the car where my cousins were
sitting. She then blurts out, "My mom's is bigger!" I about died
laughing, as did my stepmom and aunt, while my little cousin sat back there with
a look of her face of, 'what did I say that was so funny?' I think her mom
may have told her that's not an appropriate thing to say, but I knew she didn't
mean anything by it. She was just telling the truth....after all, my aunt's ring
*was* much bigger! And of course the next year she was the perfect flower
girl, but I have a feeling I'm going to remember that story for
when she gets older.
First, a caveat. Every child is different. But no matter how
well-brought-up, toddlers in high-stress situations sometimes crack under
pressure (as do some adults). My very polite son once greeted a visitor with,
Having said that....
It (should be) a truth universally acknowledged that a child
under age 4 participating (or even attending) a wedding must be in want of being
the center of attention. A few words to the brides to be, if I may....
1. Yes, toddlers look adorable dressed in suits, tuxes and
flower-girl dresses. 1a. Consider whether that adorable-ness, and knowing you
are responsible for letting the guests have a moment of "Awwww," is
worth the excellent chances that a 3-year-old, having been piled high with
parental admonitions about behavior, and having to perform in public, will fall
2. Children between the ages of 2 and 5, especially when
dressed cutely, often expect to be the center of attention.
3. They tend to say what they want to say, when they want to
say it. 3a. This includes, but is not limited to: "I have to go potty"
"Nooooooooooooooooo" "Mommy!" "I'm hungry"
"NO, I don't want to" "I'm bored"
4. Three-year-olds do not grasp the concept of letting someone
else have the spotlight.
5. Three-year-olds often are gripped with performance anxiety
that was not in evidence during the wedding rehearsal, or the weeks she spent
traipsing through the living room practicing.
Have you ever witnessed a children's sermon time at church?
Notice how the children will say random, unpredictable and sometimes
embarrassing things? In that context, it's understandably cute. If you don't
think it will be cute on your wedding video, don't have toddler performers.
I've seen a ring bearer so freaked out by the setting and
separation anxiety that bridesmaid mama had to pick him up and hold him for the
I've seen flower girls moon the congregation.
I've seen flower girls run laps around the congregation during
Once, I saw a ring bearer barf all over the pillow ... and the
I've seen a ring bearer trip over the tip of someone's cane
... and fall down on the floor in a crying tantrum because the importance of not
"messing up" had been drilled relentlessly into him.
It never fails to amaze me how the brides most insistent that
everything be perfect also insist on adding a volatile and unpredictable
substance (toddlers) to their event. I remember reading, I believe Robert
Fulghum's, dictum that a wedding is "a high state ceremony involving
amateurs under extreme pressure."
I tend to discourage the inclusion of children
under the age of six in weddings for several reasons. First, under a
certain age, a child simply cannot comprehend what he/she is being
"asked" to do and therefore cannot make a cogent choice whether they
want to be involved or not. Often that choice has been completely taken from
them by adults and the child then expresses his/her declination of this honor by
having a full fledged breakdown right when they are supposed to process down the
aisle. It's the only way they have to express their choice to decline the
position of ring bearer or flower girl. If adults have tension, anxiety and
stage fright about processing down an aisle lined with dozens, if not hundreds,
of people, it stands to reason that a less sophisticated toddler will, too.
Second, I ask the question, "Who is being
served by the child being involved as a ring bearer or flower girl? The bride or
her mother or the child's mother all have selfish reasons for wanting this tiny
human to be involved and it usually revolves around the "cute"
factor. Granted, a two year old in a tiny tuxedo is beyond cute but the
adult motives should be examined to make sure a child is not being used as a
prop to achieve a certain "look" to the wedding.
Last year, my husband and I attended the wedding of two of our
friends. My husband was in charge of making the wedding video. The wedding
itself went reasonably well, despite the fact that the officiant ad-libbed quite
a bit of the ceremony, to the obvious surprise and displeasure of the bride and
groom. While the happy couple posed for pictures and the reception line formed,
the flower girls (nieces of the groom, aged about three and five) checked out
the food on the tables set up for the reception. Spotting the groom's
"cake", a giant chocolate chip cookie covered in an inch of
buttercream icing, the girls tiptoed over to get a better look. My husband and
I, along with a few other guests, watched in amused horror as the two little
girls sampled the frosting, repeatedly plunging their fingers into the
confection and licking them off, all the while debating with each other in
whispers whether the green-tinted icing or the white icing tasted better. My
husband, of course, captured the entire episode with the video camera and showed
it to the groom as soon as he returned to the reception hall. The expression on
the groom's face as he looked from the camera's viewing screen to the girls'
icing-smeared hands and faces and then to the ill-fated dessert was absolutely
My husband's cousin is getting married this
summer half way across the country from our home. Even though it is
difficult for us to take time off from work in the summer, we decided to
go with our children(5 & 7) for a week. Many of our other relatives that are
scattered across the country are going for the same time with their children so
we are making it our family vacation for the summer.
We have both spoken with and exchanged
several emails with the mother of the groom (my husband's aunt) about our travel
details and plans for the time we are there. She is in the travel industry so
she was actually helping us make the arrangements. We booked our flights, hotel
and rental car in after speaking with her and exchanging several emails.
She is planning and hosting the wedding.
Yesterday, I received the invitation addressed
to my husband and myself, in his Aunt's hand. A piece of paper included with
directions to the wedding/reception site said:
"Due to the nature of the XXXX
botanical gardens' surroundings, children under 16 will not be permitted to
Now, we totally understand and respect
their wishes for an "adults only" wedding and reception. But you
can easily find on the location's website that children are welcome to the
garden. The garden even has activities for children scheduled that same day open
to the public.
This is not the norm for my husbands family
and as far as we know, there are no arrangements made for the children during
the 8-9 hour long wedding & reception. We do not understand why we were not
informed of this in one of our several communications with the mother of the
groom over the past few months. She knew we were making travel arrangements for
our children, but neglected to tell us they were not invited to the wedding. Had
we known we would have taken our kids to grandma's and the two of us would have
flown in just for the weekend to attend the wedding. We also could have
taken our family vacation later to a more desirable location.
So...what do you think?
Page Last Updated October 11, 2008