A Tale of Two Flower Girls

Bennett, in his favorite outfit

After two previous posts, I wasn’t planning on writing yet again about my son’s fondness for wearing dresses.  Most of the time, he’d rather wear his Thomas the Train t-shirt and jeans, but occasionally, he asks to wear something out of his sister’s closet.  None of us makes a big deal about it, except maybe his sister, who likes to gush about what a beautiful princess he makes.

But this was a very special dress… and a very special day.

Drew’s brother Peter was getting married.  Drew and his other brother were the Best Men, Sutton was a flower girl and Bennett was a ring bearer.

At least, that was the plan.

Naturally, we made a big deal about the flower girl dress, at the risk of causing Sutton to spontaneously combust with glee.  It had a sash, Aunt Ali had picked it out personally and it was so special it could only be worn on that one magical day.  It wasn’t white, as Sutton would remind us over and over.  It was “cream-colored.”

We looked at pictures of the dress online almost daily until it finally arrived, when Sutton began asking us every ten minutes if we would take it out so she could look at it.

As with most formal occasions, men’s fashion was an afterthought.  Bennett would wear a white shirt, dark pants and suspenders, which we could shop for and purchase at our convenience.

We shouldn’t have been surprised when Bennett announced that he was going to be a flower girl, too.  He never showed much interest in the dress itself, never stood at the closet door and gawked at it with his sister, but he insisted that on the wedding day, he was going to wear it.

His uncle and aunt-to-be assured us that they didn’t care what he wore or what he carried down the aisle, just as long as he was a part of their big day.

This was months ago, and Drew and I had to make the call.  The flower girl dress was expensive, and it needed to be ordered way ahead of time.  Would we have a ring bearer in the family… or two flower girls?

Those of you who have never been parents of a three-year-old need to know one thing:

You can’t plan for a kid’s desires five minutes in advance, let alone five months.

Trust me, I live with this kid.  One moment, he might ask very sweetly for me to play “Part of Me” by Katy Perry, but 22 seconds later, once I’ve found it on my iPod and hooked it up to the speakers, he’s furious that we’re not listening to Maroon 5.

Who knew what he would really want to do on the wedding day, when he saw the other ring bearers in their white shirts and suspenders?  Would he do a 180 on us and refuse to go down the aisle in the cream-colored gown?

OK, I’ll admit we also considered the fact that a little boy in a dress was going to steal some of the spotlight from the bride.  If our son identified as a girl and this were a matter of acknowledging his gender identity, that would’ve been different.  But it seemed like it was more the case of a little boy who was jealous of his sister.  We bought him the suspenders.

Occasionally over the next few months, the subject of the wedding would come up, and we’d mention that Bennett was going to be a ring bearer.  “Nope!” he’d say.  “I’m a flower girl!”  Then, we’d quickly change the subject.

This past weekend, we went to Philadelphia for the wedding.  The other kids in the wedding party weren’t at the rehearsal, and Bennett continued to insist that, during the ceremony, he would be spreading rose petals down the aisle.  We knew we had blown it.  Bad call.  The next day, we’d have one very hurt, angry little boy on our hands.

The morning of the wedding, we met up with one of the other ring bearers.  Bennett had actually had a play date with him a while back, during the bridal shower.  “You remember Little Pete?” I asked him.

“Yes,” Bennett said.  “I played with his trains.”

When it came time to put on his ring bearer outfit, Bennett didn’t put up much of a fight.  He thought Sutton looked pretty in her dress, and he beamed when we told him how handsome he was.

We breathed a sigh of relief.  We had made the right call.

Sutton did an amazing job as flower girl, and Bennett and Little Pete were top-notch ring bearers.

“I’m so proud of you,” I told Bennett after the ceremony.  “Did you like Little Pete?”

“Yes,” Bennett said.  “When I grow up, I’m going to marry him.”

I smiled at my kid and said, “Bennett, nothing would make me prouder.”

14 comments on “A Tale of Two Flower Girls

  1. We are going through a similar phase with Neal. Although “phase” might be deluded thinking. At the onset of Halloween planning, he was hellbent on being a witch. It’s changed several times until he got a Peter Pan costume from Gramma (who works at Disney World) in the mail. He wore that to his preschool parade but cried most of the time b/c the girl in his class dressed as a witch wouldn’t let him ride her broom. He was also coveting pirate swords and other various weapons I denied him, thinking the school would frown upon it…silly mommy! Neal deals almost exclusively in extremes – instead of “no” its often “never.” And last night he told me I was “terrible” and that I “don’t like him” b/c it was time to get out of the tub. All with lots of tears and a contorted face that just crushes souls.

    Phoebe, his twin, knew from day one she wanted to be a spider. No drama from her.

    Since the storm is washing away any hopes of trick or treating in Cleveland Wednesday, perhaps it’s much ado about nothing.

    • Jessica, “phase” is probably the right word, although you never know. My son went through a phase for much of the last year where he was ALWAYS a character (you couldn’t even use his real name), and usually in a costume of some sort (a cape or a mask or even a full blown costume). He started out wanting to be boy characters (Simba, Spiderman, etc.) but then switched to girls (Nala, Firestar from “Spiderman and his Amazing Friends,” Emily from the Power Rangers, etc.). He did occassionally choose boy characters if they were the smallest (e.g., Michael rather than Wendy from Peter Pan; Robin rather than Batman or Batgirl). He’s almost 4 now and still VERY into pretend and costumes, but it’s not an around-the-clock thing anymore. And, and a few months ago, he started preferring the boy characters again.

      I think most of what they do as preschoolers are phases, unless it’s something that permeates multiple aspects of their personality and lives. Oh, and Harry Potter rides a broom and is a witch (albeit by a different name). Neal sounds like he’s got a lot of passion, which hopefully will translate into good things as he outgrows the preschool phase!

  2. I was having a difficult day today, then I read your post. I laughed, cried and my difficult day vanished. I love how you two deal with all life’s challenges with humor. I have no doubt that the knot in your stomach disappeared when Bennett walked in carrying that sign and sparkled in his suspenders. What a great day!

  3. How adorable! They look wonderful. I know what you mean; the only thing faster than the speed of light is the speed at which children change their minds. It can be frustrating! Sometimes I find it easier to simply offer no choice, and no possibility of a mind-change. hehe

  4. My son was very fond of wearing his older sister’s princess dresses as well. Since turning four, he doesn’t seem quite as interested, and I have to say, I kind of miss it. There is something incredibly endearing about a little boy wearing a dress while doing ninja kicks to save the world from monsters. Great post…and my heart went out to you concerning the changing whims of children. It is definitely one of the most frustrating parts of parenthood. But it seems like you handled this one well.

  5. I am so glad everything worked out well in the end! I applaud you for handling the situation so well. My brother used to follow me around when we were little (he’s 3 years younger than me) and so he had to have his own Barbie and a blue tutu :) I’m proud that my parents handled the situation well too (20 something years ago). So many people are closed minded and think it’s taboo to let little boys wear dresses or take on ‘feminine’ characteristics. I say that’s ridiculous.
    Also??? That sign around his neck – SO CUTE!!!!! x

  6. My eldest son, Joshua, loved to wear make-up & dress in my clothes until he was 7 or so. Then, he just stopped. I never encouraged or discouraged him, but I did have to laugh when he looked like MiMi from the Drew Carey Show. Now he’s a grown man, laughs about being a silly boy in the not-so-distant past.

  7. They are both so cute all dressed for success. You guys did great…no tears as they headed down the aisle? I’d say that alone is a tribute to well adjusted and confident kids.

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