Sunday, June 12, 2011

Toddlers don’t do solemn

“I could tell from the beginning that Russ and Esther had a special connection,” the maid of honor said into the microphone, while our son Evan delivered a real-time rebuttal from his highchair.

“This! This! This!” he shouted, pointing to the Hershey’s Kiss on the table in front of him as heads swiveled to see where the commotion was coming from. I like to think that Evan was offering his own advice to the bride and groom, letting them know that it’s okay to demand a little sweetness in your life, even if it means you have to loudly beg for kisses at inappropriate times.

I scooped Evan out of his chair and ran through the ballroom doors, a maneuver I could have performed blindfolded by that point.

Earlier, during the wedding, my wife Kara and I passed Evan back-and-forth between our laps, doing our best to keep him entertained as the solemn ceremony proceeded. Toddlers do a lot of things well, such as turning applesauce into spackle, but solemnity isn’t one of their known strengths.

As Russ and Esther exchanged vows, Evan tugged on the large bow tied to the seat in front of him.

“That’s a bow,” Kara whispered.

“Bow? Bow! Bow!” Evan shouted, proud of his new word.

“Be solemn!” I whispered, to no avail.

“Bow! Bow! Bow!” he screamed.

We were sitting in the corner seats of the row closest to the door, an area that should probably be labeled as the Escape Hatch. Perhaps, someday, forward-thinking wedding planners will equip those seats with eject buttons, but in the meantime, I’ll continue packing my own starting blocks in Evan’s diaper bag. I achieved a personal best as I dashed for the ballroom doors with Evan under my arm. He continued yelling his favorite new word all the way out the door, graciously giving the other guests a free demonstration of the Doppler Effect.

We’d traveled to State College for the wedding, the town where Kara and I first met. We hadn’t been back in many years, and it was a surreal experience visiting Penn State’s campus with our son.

Every place we visited was packed with memories from an existence so alien to the one our family is living now, one in which the evening didn’t get started until at least two hours after our current bedtime.

As we walked down College Avenue with Evan holding his arms over his head, clutching one of our fingers in each hand, I half-expected a version of me from a decade ago to round the corner, stop dead in his tracks and say, “Wow, Kara married me?”

We’d high-five and spend a moment reveling in how we pulled that one off.

“And dude, is that my son?” he’d say. “He’s adorable! Oh, this is so awes -- wait, is that my bald spot, too?”

In the end, Russ and Esther’s beautiful wedding went off without a hitch, or with one very successful hitch. My only worry is that the huge candy table at the back of the ballroom – a rainbow-colored festival of sugar and chocolate that would have made Halloween jealous – might have overloaded Evan’s brain.

“This! This! This!” he murmured throughout the day, no matter where we were, pointing at the candy table that only existed in his mind.

Also, as it turns out, a pleasant side effect of bringing your toddler to an afternoon wedding, besides the opportunity to poach his leftover chicken fingers, is that his naptime will force you to make a graceful exit before you have a chance to execute the Blend-Into-the-Crowd Shuffle on the dance floor.

You can throw Mike Todd out of your ballroom at


  1. This post, rocks! Looks like Evan has some of his own cool dance moves :) Sweet!

  2. cute pic mofo - that is a great shot of the two of them.

  3. Wow! Great family pic at the shrine. Kara looks like she just had a butt load of caffeine injected into her system.

  4. Thanks dudes! Yeah, trying to squeeze in a family picture when you're in danger of being late to a wedding helps perk you right up, we found.

  5. Awesome. Those pics came out great... Evan looks so cute in his little suit! I can tell Evan and I have a lot in common from that second picture... we reacted to the candy bar in the exact same way.