The Reluctant Ring Bearer
by Karla ° Friday, February 15, 2008
My brother is getting married next Friday. And if he had it his way, a brand spanking new baby would be delivered on his doorstep the next morning. He loves kids,wholly, passionately and deeply, and Nate is lucky to have an Uncle as incredible as my brother. In the same breath that he announced his wedding to us, he asked Nate to be the ring bearer. Nate was only a few weeks old at the time, and we excitedly accepted the honour and turned our attention to visions of a smiling tuxedo-clad toddler with rosy cherub cheeks making his way down the aisle.

Um, yeah. And now that I am about a million light years less naïve about babies, I can just picture what it will really be like: Nate, in a tulle-wrapped stroller being pushed down the aisle by the flower girls, salt-pale and fearful, cheeks stained with tears, billowing angry wails emanating from all directions and reverberating off the cathedral ceiling before bouncing back with a drum-splitting force into the ears of sympathetic, cringing onlookers.

Seriously, ever since that episode in daycare, he’s been a different child. Clingy, moody and, well, clingy and moody. We went to visit a friend last week, a place he’s been before, and yet this time, I could not put him down without him freaking out. I even took him into the washroom with me, and when I set him down, to, um, pee, he lost it and sobbed tears that could drown a small village. Same goes for play dates and any and all contact with humans who do not bear a striking resemblance to Mark or myself.

This inability to leave my child’s side outside the home is making me increasingly weary and testing levels of patience that my inherently impatient disposition did not know it had.

At home he’s fine. He plays quietly on his own, stacks shapes and builds unidentifiable creations with mega blocks, but the second we leave the house, the only way to keep him from a blowing a gasket is to ensure he is nestled securely in the comfortable alcove of my maternal hip.

I don’t know what to do. It’s too late to pull out of the wedding now, isn’t it? And besides, his part in this wedding is so important to my family, my brother.

But here I go again with that whole thing about balancing the equation of life, and I know this is just a phase and all, but I can’t help be aware that my son’s shell is fragile, and that sending him down a long aisle lined with unfamiliar faces is going to do nothing but further damage his wavering trust and perpetuate his insecurities around strangers.

On the other hand, part of being human means coming in contact with other humans not accompanied by ones mother. This is a lesson he must learn someday, right?

He’s just so objectionably loud about that whole process though.

Maybe I’m looking at this all the wrong way, and maybe the answer is really simple; supply everyone with ear plugs.

Or, maybe I will just have to join the wedding procession and march my little ring bearer down the aisle myself.

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My daughter was 3 and had a breakdown at my sisters wedding last year when the doors opened and she saw a packed church. So I got off my line (I was the maid of honor) and walked her down. Then I went back down the aisle to my spot. She did it at the reception too. Avoid the drama - it will be that much more sweet to have his mama in the video and the pics and it will save everyone from the tears. I'm sure your brother won't mind.
And they DO grow out of the clingy stage. Don't stress it and don't make a big deal out of it. I swear they know when we get stressed....
Posted by Blogger Stephanie :  February 15, 2008

My 2yo daughter has been flower girl twice and I went down the aisle with her both times - there's no way she would have been able to go where she was supposed to go. Do you think your brother and his fiance would be opposed to you being the ring-bearer's bearer? Because I really doubt it would bother anyone in the congregation, and it seems like it would be so much nicer to have a happy Nate at a wedding than a howling one.

I'm so sorry to hear that your little guy seems so traumatized by the daycare experience. :( Hugs to you.
Posted by Anonymous Fawn :  February 15, 2008

Ugh - separation anxiety strikes at the most inopportune times. I see this a great excuse for you to buy a really nice dress - after all, it looks like you are going to be in the wedding too!
Posted by Blogger Karen :  February 15, 2008

My daughter was a flower girl twice last summer (2 1/2 at the time). The first trip down the aisle was a success--she even skipped.

The second wedding was a disaster. She took two steps down the aisle and started screaming until I came to get her.

My point: you never know what's going to happen. If it's important to your brother that Nate be there, let him try it. Worst case, he screams, you pick him up, and everyone has a good laugh.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  February 15, 2008

I'd say go down the aisle with him.

Julie went through the very same thing at that age. It was exhausting. I feel for you.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  February 15, 2008

I say go down the aisle with Nate he will be happier and maybe who knows one of the flower girls will catch his attention he will cling to her and you don't have to walk him down the isle. Play it by ear but definitely keep nate in the wedding it is important to your family as well as a good thing for Nate. And how can one resist a baby in a tuxedo so sweet.
Posted by Blogger TBG :  February 15, 2008

my little flower girl had just learned to walk when it was time for her big trip down the aisle for my best friends wedding. she actually did a pretty good job, my mom was seated at the back of the church and sent her down to where I was waiting (I was the maid of honour). It was all going well until with just a few steps to go she tripped (she had just learned to walk after all). Luckily I had a back up plan, my hubbie was waiting in the other aisle. I scooped her up and and handed her off to him and out the church they were gone...i was mortified but my gf was fine with it. I kept her away from the reception until the dancing started, then she whipped off her shoes and boogied until she fell asleep on a chair. Everyone loves the ring bearer/flower girl disaster, it gives complete strangers something to talk about at the reception until the third glass of wine kicks in.
Posted by Anonymous MoMa :  February 15, 2008

You can go with him. Or stand crouched at the front for him to walk to.

And don't forget...

Everyone expects funny moments when small children are in wedding parties.

If it doesn't go "perfect" everyone will still be smiling.
Posted by Anonymous Angella :  February 15, 2008

At my wedding last summer, I had 2 flower girls both aged 2.5. We weren't certain how things were going to go and I was prepared for whatever may have happened be it a perfect walk down the aisle with them hand in hand, or screaming and crying, I got lucky, they were perfect, but seriuosly I wouldn't have minded either way, that's the chance you take with having very small kids in your wedding. I'm sure your brother and future SIL know of the risks, but maybe you should tell them honestly about your worries. I don't see anything wrong with you walking him down, or maybe holding the hand of an older flower girl, if there are any. No matter what happens people will delite at the cuteness of little Nate.

Doesn't it make it cuter when they cry??

Stand in front so he knows he is coming right to you..with a sugary treat or something you know he will want!

He will do fine...and I cannot wait to see that cute little boy all dressed up. Have a wonderful weekend!
Posted by Blogger Donna :  February 15, 2008

We had a similar issue with my (almost) 1 year old nephew being in a wedding. He wasn't walking quite yet but the bride really wanted him in her wedding. So we solved it by having my dad (my nephews grandpa) pull him down the aisle in a vintage pedal car. He dropped the Bible (instead of rings, same idea) off to the minister at the front, then my dad pulled him back up the aisle and sat down. It was SUPER cute and he got to be in the wedding, doing what they needed him to do, but he didn't have to be walk and didn't cry.
Posted by Anonymous Keri :  February 15, 2008

Our ringbearer was 3.5 and he cried. Our flower girls were 6 and 7 and they sat down during the ceremony facing the guests and showed off their knickers. It was funny.We still laugh about it.
It may be best if you carry him down the aisle if possible so it would only be tears rather than fitful sorrowful wails... But you probably won't know till the moment is upon you and you can judge Nate's mood.
I hope whatever bra-device you found for your dress manages to stay all together through the processional/ recessional lest you decide to take part - that kind of malfunction might be more startling to guests than a tiny crying ring bearer.
Posted by Anonymous Ms.Carson :  February 15, 2008

The kids in our wedding party were 2 and 6 (my best friend's daughters) and almost 1 (our niece). The older two walked down right behind their mom, and the littlest got carried down the aisle by her mom. I guarantee you nobody's going to be any less charmed if you hold his hand or carry him.
Posted by Anonymous Ami :  February 15, 2008

I wouldn't worry about it too much. We chose our 2 year old nephew as the ring bearer and he refused to walk down he aisle. Really, one can't expect such a small child to willingly go down the aisle. Sure, there are those that will, but I think the majority probably wouldn't. I know my two year old wouldn't. Unless of course you bribed him with some chocolate!! Nate is still a baby--I don't think they will be too disappointed if he isn't actively in the wedding. He can be in pictures, perhaps--for proof that he was the ring bearer.
Posted by Blogger Candi :  February 15, 2008

Just roll with it and deal with whatever happens. There is absolutely no way to anticipate or prepare. I think you'll all do beautifully.
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  February 15, 2008

Posted by Anonymous uumomma :  February 15, 2008

While not exactly what you are anticipating with Mr. Nate, you should have a read of Lily's Big Day by Kevin Henkes. It's the same story.
Posted by Blogger Mama T :  February 16, 2008

He's still not walking, right? It sounds like you would have to carry him anyway.

I'm sorry he's being so clingy. It sounds like he's afraid he's going to be left again. Andrew was the same way at church. As soon as we stepped out of the car in the church parking lot he turned into a total clingster. He wanted nothing to do with any other human being because he was afraid of being passed off. I had lots of "helpful" advice from people that told me I was spoiling him and holding him too much. Eventually he became more independent and able to understand that when mommy leaves she comes back. It was a long, slow process filled with tears on both our parts. You hate to think there is something wrong with your child, and I was so worried that he was going to forever be socially inept. Of course, he's fine now. Clinginess is a phase. A phase that feels like it will never end!
Posted by Blogger Julia :  February 16, 2008

My 2 3/4 year old at the time - was in my BIL's wedding and let me tell you my son is not the social type at all - it is almost safe to say he hates people he does not know....everything worked out for us (helpoed that his older sister was with him and he took to really well to the flower girl the night before at the rehearsal party)....Don't worry about not take him out of the wedding...people expect kids to cry and if the wedding couple asked they to had to expect it too. Our back-up plan was I or my husband would walk him up or put him in a wagon.
I think I remember the bride actually telling me she hoped that my son would created a fuss because it would take the focus off of her.....
Try not to worry too much about the clingy thing - simply a phase he will in time get over...mine is over 3 and still has problems with it but we are seeing a little progress.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  February 16, 2008

I feel your pain. My oldest son, Parker, was painfully attached to me when he hit 15-24 months. I clearly remember the day we took him to an outdoor birthday party for my neice's first birthday... and as we walked toward the back yard he became increasingly distressed and harder to calm. I was MORTIFIED - especially since my mother in law was there to witness the whole fiasco and she was already questioning my mothering skills. Well meaning relatives were trying to help, but only making matters worse! Another time, my adorable child was with me in a store when a stranger commented how beautiful my baby was... to which my precious son replied by GROWLING at her. The moral of all these stories? Your son is just going through a stage and as my mother always told me, its only a stage it won't last enjoy the good /sweet / happy stages and get through the bad... but none last forever.
As far as the wedding goes, I think that you walking him down and then having him sit with you (perhaps in the front row) would be wonderful. Even though he won't remember, there will be pictures and video to last a lifetime and he will always have a special bond with his uncle who clearly adores him. It will be a memory for all that will last a lifetime. Good luck - let us know what happens...and post some wedding pictures... can't wait.
Posted by Anonymous Joelle :  February 16, 2008

I have two kdis and both went through the whole clingy phase. My oldest went through it for a short time around the age Nate is now. My youngest started a little later and now at almost three years old he is finally getting over it. I know its really frustrating, you need a break somtimes from the contant clinging when you go out. But dont worry it will end, and then their will be times you will want it back. I would give anything for my four year old to be a little clingy every now and then. Hope he gets over it quickly like my first did, it can be hard on the mommy when it last a long time.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  February 17, 2008

Walking down the aisle with your little guy seems the safest bet. (And I like the excuse for a nice new dress). He'll grow out of the clingy stage, to the point where you'll remember it fondly (because he'll be so independent it'll hurt a little).

Good luck!
Posted by Blogger shauna :  February 17, 2008

as to the wedding situation, I think your participation is the key. He might be nervous even IN your arms, but that's the best chance I think. Unless you do the wagon, pedal car idea and decorate it like a wedding car. How fun. As to the being clingy thing, I promise it WILL pass. I don't know too many 18 year olds which cling to their mothers hip. I say this, having an 18 year old of my own. A 6'4 enormous guy, who's armpit fits snuggly over my HEAD! I can't tell you, how quickly those years have gone. You were saying that the first year seemed to flash by. Every one will, and suddenly you will be craving, absolutely aching to hold them in your arms again, but they are growing up. Not as snuggly, moving on, college. It might seem trite, but the loss I'm feeling right now? I would tell you to hold onto Nate and try your hardest to enjoy it as best you can. I want it back. I'm not ready. Finding out how to be a mom is one stage of life. Finding out how to let it go after they grow up, is difficult as well. I envy you and Nate just now.


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