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.”
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.”