Right, so where was I? Ah yes, the big wedding which was the reason and purpose of our excursion beyond the far banks of the mighty Mis’sip.
The wedding was utterly lovely, fittingly so for a brother-in-law and sister-in-law I could not be happier for. Granted, I really didn’t get to stay for much of the ceremony and we bailed pretty early on the reception, too, all owing to the demands of wrangling a two-month-old and a thirty-three-month-old, but between the parts I did experience and the general vibe I picked up on all weekend, everything was optimal.
And, honestly, the little guy and the little girl were optimal, too, by which I mean they did everything my wife and I could have asked or expected of them over the course of the entire weekend. In the case of our infant daughter, that simply meant not shrieking for the entire flight and/or the entire airport-to-hotel interstate drive in either direction, and also not vomiting (or worse) on the bride or anyone else nicely dressed, and generally rolling with the crazy schedule in constant motion that we kept to. But the little girl isn’t the type who ever shrieks for more than five or ten minutes before calming down, and she’s not particularly barfy either, and she’s proven so far to be generally temperamentally mellow. So we hoped she would just be herself, and she was, and all was well.
(The one possible exception to this praise of the ideal infant would be that, on the flight from Minneapolis back to DC, the little girl managed to fill and overflow a diaper about an hour before we were due to touch down. Princess Pooty-Pants is at that nursing stage now where she will go days without any bowel action and then void everything massively and messily at once. So of course she did that at 30,000 feet. Probably something to do with cabin pressure. My wife, who was holding the baby in her lap for the whole flight, of course had to deal with the unpleasantness in situ, which I tried to make up for by being the one who rushed the little girl to an airport bathroom once we landed and proceeded to strip her, clean her lower half as much as baby wipes could manage, and put a new diaper and backup outfit on her. Still, all in all, small price to pay for otherwise angelic near-perfection.)
The little guy had slightly more functional responsibility since he was the ringbearer for the wedding ceremony, and he absolutely nailed it. Insofar as “it” entailed allowing us to dress him up in a tiny tuxedo and corral him in the back of the church as the ceremony got started, then send him with the pillow and (stand-in) rings down the aisle to deliver the rings to the … groom? Best man? I was the one standing in the back of the church to start him on his way, and it was hard to see from there. Wearing the tux didn’t bother him, and he was willing enough to hang out with me until go-time, and once I scooted him on his way he walked straight down the aisle, pillow held perfectly level with his chest in both hands, not too fast and not too slow, with much appreciative aww-ing from the guests in the pews. (And from me. I don’t usually cry at weddings but watching my boy do his thing brought me pretty close.) The only flaw in our plans for preparing the little guy, which involved my wife showing him YouTube videos of ringbearers so he got the gist as well as making sure he got a dry run during the wedding rehearsal the night before, was that all of our focus was on bearing the rings down the aisle. Not so much with what he should do after that. We assumed post-fulfillment of duties he would make a beeline for either his mother or his pop-pop, but instead he opted to march right back up the aisle, creating a two-way traffic situation with the processional of bridesmaids. He wanted to get back to me, as it turned out. Whoops.
Once the ceremony really got going, the little guy and I slipped down a side aisle to sit with my wife and the baby, who was promptly handed over to me so that my wife could perform the first reading. At which point the little girl got slightly fussy, so I stood up to remove her from the middle of things, figuring the little guy would just stay in his seat playing with the cars that were waiting there for him. Ah, but no: with mommy at the lectern and daddy in the back with baby sis, the little guy decided to stretch his legs a bit. He walked through the middle of the wedding party, up towards the lectern, and proceeded to climb around the balustrades surrounding the musicians a bit. A bit disruptive, but thankfully mostly in the cute way that ends up being one of those little touches of chaos that makes the wedding memorable. When my wife had finished her reading she escorted the little guy to me (by then I had decamped to the church basement where the little girl could fuss to her heart’s content) and then returned for the rest of the ceremony; the groom being her brother and all, she certainly belonged in a proper seat at the ceremony. Fortunately it was not an interminably long ceremony and we were all reunited soon enough.
The fact that basically everyone was happy to indulge the little guy in his dais-traipsing wanderlust is representative of his entire extended weekend with his extended family, which my wife and I had seen enough of by about the mid-point to start referring to him as the Little Last Emperor. There was the fancy outfit, and the small-but-momentarily-center-of-attention role in the ceremony, but there was also much cooing and fawning from all corners, flower girls and bridesmaids to great-aunts and old friends of the family. (Uncles too, for that matter; even dudes are not immune to the little guy’s charms.) Additionally there was the constant showering of gifts. My wife and I bought him a few new toys and DVDs to keep him occupied on the plane, in the car, at the hotel, etc. but there were also “congratulations on being a new big brother” toys from relatives who hadn’t seen us since the baby’s arrival, not to mention new-to-him pool toys at the hotel pool (where he got to swim at least three or four different times) and other playthings at other various locales around the scheduled events. Plus basically subsisting on nothing but his very favorite foods (chicken nuggets and quesadillas) for five straight days. He was living the life!
It’s not that my wife and I were particularly troubled by any of this. We think the kid is pretty nifty and certainly would never object to other people treating him accordingly. We had already concluded that it made perfect sense to bribe the little guy into good behavior, or keep him so distracted with shiny new whatsits that it never occurred to him to misbehave, or however you want to characterize it, so if other people wanted to pile on the loot, no harm there. If anything it was all simply a matter of degree, and perhaps a growing sense that maybe these fundamentally sound ideas were escalating out of hand. But mostly it was safe and fun to joke around about the little guy becoming a pampered, spoiled little despot because we didn’t actually think it would happen. (It didn’t, if three days back home and back to close to normal are any indication.) Also we didn’t have the time or energy to do anything else about it but laugh.
So, in the end, a premise fraught with potential peril turned out to be 99% smooth sailing. Nonetheless my wife and I have sworn to each other that we are never, ever travelling again.
(For some value of “never, ever” which probably correlates to about a year, year and a half.)