Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Parents are supposed to want the best for their kids but what if that means making the child screw it up big-time?
That’s the quandary I faced recently when my 2-year-old daughter was chosen to be the flower girl for a friend’s wedding at the Bali Hai restaurant down in Shelter Island.
I knew Alexandra would be cute but I also know that asking too much of a 2-year-old is a perfect way to court disaster, especially at an event like a wedding where the slightest mistake provides cocktail chatter throughout the rest of the ceremony and beyond.
I still get razzed because one of my friends at my wedding started to give a toast to my wife and I but goofed up and ended up toasting his own wife instead (because I introduced them).
Even the best-planned weddings have screw-ups and when my wife and I agreed to have Alex be the flower girl, I figured she would be the odds-on favorite to make the type of mistake that becomes a part of the family lore.
In fact, I encouraged it because I knew the wedding was being photographed and taped by various people at various angles and I wanted to immortalize my daughter’s performance in hopes of making $100,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
I’m not a stage papa but, as a new homeowner and a parent, I wanted my daughter to do something to earn her keep and help finance her college education.
The wonderful thing about having a 2-year-old participate in a wedding is that they’re bound to do something that isn’t in the “rule book.” The problem is 2-year-olds are spontaneous creatures, so you can’t promise them $5 if they trip on the bride’s dress or some other surefire trick to win a prize on AFV.
So I was at the mercy of her and, unfortunately, there was no way to orchestrate her screw-up. All I could do was make sure any such “accident” be documented for posterity.
Not that I didn’t try. I suggested to my wife that our daughter wear super high heels and an extra long dress figuring that would increase the chances of AFV-worthy footage but was only greeted with silence.
Before the ceremony, I snuck her candy and even let her sip a Coca-Cola in hopes of increasing the chances for an “adorable-on-retrospect” meltdown but, alas, she was a perfect angel.
What’s a loving father to do? I only want what’s best for her and I felt $100,000 was best. You might argue that I should want what’s best for the couple, not my own selfish desires but I disagree: My friends could always get married again but I only had one shot at getting the perfect flower girl accident that would set my child up for life.
Alas, it was not meant to be. When the wedding finally started, I held my breath and when I heard the crowd in the back murmuring, “Aahhhhh,” I knew Alex had arrived and when I heard the indulgent giggles, I got my hopes up that we would soon be driving to Hollywood to meet AFV host Tom Bergeron and getting that check.
But instead of pulling the dress off or screaming, “I want a Popsicle” or some other obnoxious-at-the-time-but-cute-on-retrospect action, Alex merely held her hand over her nose.
Cute but it wasn’t going to cut it compared to a clip of a cat falling in the toilet or an old man trying to move his walker across an icy pond and falling in the water.
All throughout the rest of the ceremony, people came up to me and congratulated me on having such a cute daughter. I tried to be gracious but, frankly, I was a defeated man stewing in my own failed dreams for my child.
It didn’t help that my wife and in-laws were ecstatic at Alex’s relatively dignified performance as flower girl. Here I am trying to make a life for my family and they are more concerned that the wedding went off without a hitch.
Puh-leeze. Where are your priorities?
In retrospect, I suppose it’s nice to have a child I can take out in public but well-behaved kids don’t make for hilarious AFV-type video clips.
But I am optimistic. My daughter is still young and has plenty of years left to make embarrassing scenes for our video library. And she’ll only be three or so when my niece gets married next year.
Plus my wife is due in March, so that doubles my chances of making my AFV fortunes.
Wish me luck.
David Moye lives in La Mesa with his wife and daughter and, on occasion, is a fairly decent parent.