A Flower Girl Balancing Act
Over the winter, one of Muffin and Squeaker’s favorite adults asked them to participate in her wedding. The girls were unsure what this was going to entail, but once they were told that they were going to wear pretty dresses and get to drop flower petals on the ground, they got on board quickly. It was all very theoretical, but they were excited.
As the date of the wedding drew closer, I started purchasing what they would need for the wedding. The bride had chosen dresses for them to wear that were not identical but that matched each other. She had also chosen shoes and socks for them to wear and had introduced the idea that we would do something special with the girls’ hair. Again, the girls were fine with the ideas in theory.
And then the items started to arrive. When the dresses came, the girls thought they were beautiful; Squeaker was sure she’d look like a princess when wearing it. (Squeaker is in a princess phase right now; Muffin is in an astronaut phase. Of course, when pressed, Squeaker says that the princess in question is an astronaut.) But when we tried the dresses on (because we can’t have princess dresses in the house and not try them on), the girls began to complain.
“The dress is too itchy,” Squeaker whined. “I don’t like it and I won’t wear it.”
“I’m going to be cooooold,” Muffin moaned. “I don’t like it and I won’t wear it.”
“It’s J’s special day,” I said. “She’s the bride, and on this one day she gets to tell people what to wear. When you are brides, you’ll get to tell people what to wear.”
The whining and moaning continued, but I had confidence. On the day itself, I was sure, they’d wear the dresses.
But I’d learned my lesson. When the shoes and socks came, I didn’t even show them to the girls. I took the box and put it aside, only taking it out once to show the bride herself what the shoes looked like. Of course, that meant that I was taking a chance that the shoes wouldn’t fit, but I made sure to buy a size I was pretty confident would still fit by the time the wedding date came.
The dresses chosen by the bride were gorgeous, but they were were vaguely impractical for almost-five-year-olds because they were mostly pure white. The shoes and the socks were also bright white. And I have a general philosophy against pure white clothing for children the girls’ age. (As I remarked at some point during the lead-up to the wedding, it was clear that these dresses were chosen by a bride and not by a mother.) So the dresses stayed hanging in the girls’ closet, wrapped in their protective plastic, and the shoes remained in their boxes, protected by tissue paper.
Muffin and Squeaker were not the only flower girls for this wedding. They were joined in the task by their good friend Proto and Proto’s younger sister Gundo. This was very good because it motivated the girls to want to participate — they wanted to be involved in whatever Proto and Gundo were doing.
The day of the wedding arrived, and we took the dresses and the shoes and put them carefully in the car of Proto and Gundo’s parents, who had offered to drive us to the wedding venue. I also packed a plain white shirt, just in case Squeaker continued to complain about the itchiness of the dress. We decided to have the girls travel in dresses they could wear to the wedding but not for the ceremony. This decision was twofold: first, that way the fancy dresses wouldn’t get all smushed when we put the girls into car seats. Second, this way they had appropriate clothing to change into if they decided during the reception they were tired of wearing the fancy dresses. When we got to the synagogue where the wedding was, we found a ladies’ room in which we could change all four girls. I was quite pleased that Muffin and Squeaker got into their flower girl dresses and socks and shoes without a peep of complaint. And the shoes fit perfectly.
Orthodox Jewish weddings traditionally start with the “kabbalat panim,” a reception at which people come and greet the bride as she sits on her “throne,” as she is the queen of the day. This reception usually is accompanied by food. Since the girls were now all dressed in their wedding finery, I was quite paranoid about them eating or drinking anything that might stain their dresses, but with help from Michael they were able to have all sorts of treats and didn’t get dirty. Muffin even discovered a love for vegetable sushi. And many people commented to us that the girls looked adorable.
Finally, it was time for the ceremony. The girls surprised us by being willing to follow someone they didn’t know (the “traffic controller” who was sending people down the aisle) to a location they were unfamiliar with (the social hall of the synagogue) to do something they’d never done before (drop flower petals on the floor with reckless abandon). And they did their job beautifully and were quite adorable.
After the ceremony ended, Muffin asked me, “Mommy, can we do that again?” And that, I think, is the sign of a successful afternoon.
This week’s column is written by Nomi S. Burstein.
About this column: The adventures of two Brookline parents and their twin daughters, Muffin and Squeaker. Copyright 2014 by Michael and Nomi Burstein.