The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — There comes a time in the life of every parent that you’ll face the prospect of taking your children somewhere said offspring would not, normally, go.
A time when you just have to take a deep breath and hope you’ve done enough work on the young hooligans — I mean, ladies and/or gentlemen — that they’ll acquit themselves as well as an be expected, and not do things like burp at the table, trip the guests of honor or loudly exclaim at an inopportune moment, “HEY! I gotta use the potty!”
This time came to the Keppeler family a few weeks ago. My boys were the only two children invited by my only brother and his bride to their wedding, an event which was to be a lovely, classy affair at a gorgeous resort out of state. In fact, the younger of the two was asked to be ring-bearer.
I was flattered. I was honored. I was thoroughly looking forward to the event, and very happy for the couple. And, yet, I couldn’t escape one further emotion:
Pure, unreasoning terror.
When you’re a parent, this is pressure. You are now responsible for two of the biggest possible wildcards at the wedding — two little boys, the only two little boys present. It’s like having grenades in your pockets at the ceremony, if grenades can be bribed not to go off by the singular temptation of wedding cake.
So many questions go through your head. Have you impressed the seriousness of the occasion on them? Reminded the suddenly fond-of-potty-humor preschooler what’s appropriate and what’s not? Thoroughly convinced the 8-year-old prone to giggle fits that the middle of the ceremony is NOT a good time?
And the ring-bearer thing. Where do I begin? I started with one very simple concept, which Sam repeated dutifully every time someone asked him if he knew what to do in his role: “You walk. You don’t run.”
(They’d laugh like he was the cutest thing ever. They didn’t know that this is the child who runs everywhere, and I had nightmares of him sprinting to the front of the aisle, pillow and ring flying along behind him.)
We talked and we reminded and we preached about wedding-appropriate behavior. We lectured on the role of the ring-bearer. We stressed how important it was. Just maybe, we said a little prayer for good measure.
And then, finally, it was wedding weekend.
After a bit of a road trip, we arrived at the resort where the festivities were to take place, excited kids in tow. They charmed everyone they met, enjoyed the pool and the resort gym, did well at the rehearsal dinner and then ... it was time.
Jim endured his new suit. Sam rocked his ring-bearer’s garb, so pleased with himself the grin never left his face. If I do say myself, he looked like a little blond James Bond.
I had to be in place near the front of the venue to do a reading, so I left Sam with the bride-to-be and bridesmaids. I later found out that he essentially regaled them with his life story and tales of all his pre-K classmates. I hope the laughter was helpful for everyone.
We waited. The groom and groomsmen entered. The bridesmaids preceded down the aisle. Time for the rings.
I held my breath, waiting for him to come into view. He did, pacing deliberately down the path ...
... and then he started jumping down the steps.
A chuckle swept the guests. I couldn’t look. Hop. Hop. Hop. He reached the bottom and reverted back to Mr. Serious mode, walking up to the front with the pillow and its precious cargo intact, and took his place next to the best man.
I breathed a tremendous sigh of relief, then another one when the ceremony was done. (Good heavens. My baby brother is married.) The Keppelers, all four of them, headed for the party. I, for one, with an absence of stress I hadn’t felt in a while.
And — yes, I’m bragging here — they were awesome.
Jimmy never left the dance floor except to eat with his customary gusto and to visit with his beloved grandparents and other family members old and new. Sam danced with as many of the female guests as possible (the flirt) and accepted compliments on his wedding role with aplomb. By the end of the evening, he passed out in the arms of his father as we headed back to our hotel room. (Jim still had more energy than either of his parents.)
It was done. We survived. No major mortification, no need to leave the party, no need to apologize to my brother for the sort of incident that would doubtless give him sibling-ammo for many years to come.
Proud as we are, we can’t take all the credit for it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past eight years, it’s that you plan and you prepare all you can, but your children are essentially going to do their own thing anyway. All you can do is try your hardest, then hope for the best. (And be prepared for the worst.)
It’s just part of being a parent — for better or worse.
Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.