So, the wedding was great.
I like weddings. Perhaps more so as a PK (preacher's kid). I've seen a reasonable number (I've even, strangely, been invited to weddings of people I don't know because of encounters at my mom's house while they were preparing for the wedding - I just roll with it). I've also seen a lot of the preparations in thought, and talked with my mom about the core versus periphery issues - core being 'license, bride, groom, witness, officiant' and periphery being everything from the rings to the dress to the location to the food - everything else is gravy.
There was loads of gravy at the wedding. Gorgeous settings, beautiful attire, tasteful and elegant rings, scads of attendants, lovely music, good readings, quite a solid and well-performed homily, the whole bit. Some hiccups that will make good telling, once the ouch goes away - the trees falling across the power lines to the inn and cutting off the music at the reception (rescued by some D-cell batteries and a boom box), the kids filching cake decorations from the back room in lieu of the gluten-free cupcakes that didn't arrive.
Lovely, entertaining, good time.
And the kids behaved spectacularly well. That's even with (or perhaps partly because of) my spectacularly high expectations for their behavior.
In research on parenting and child development, over and over three underlying aspects of parenting show up as key to the child's function: democratic family process, warmth, and high expectations. They're the core of the 'authoritative' parenting style, really. The very center and core. Before even the mentoring and modeling and other meta-parenting behaviors. In my sets of rules, they come out as Respectful (the democratic process being that each person is respected as a person with their own needs, mind, intentions, aspirations, and is accorded a voice and assistance in meeting those needs within the family structure), Loving (acting in a loving manner would I assume be 'warm'), and Faithful (trusting them to be able to achieve at a high level, meet a challenge, develop skills and abilities).
So, those expectations. I expected the kids to be respectful of the Church and the Priest, to attend to what was going on around them, to place the bride and grooms needs above their own preferences (though their needs would be addressed, their random preferences come second), to perform their tasks as practiced (or reasonably close to as practiced), and to (in all that) enjoy themselves, and (GASP) still BE themselves. In fact, the bride asked specifically that their personalities be allowed to show, because it was for themselves that they were asked to be attendants, not because they wanted attendants. They just wanted the kids, these kids, to be part of their wedding.
That's kind of a stratospheric set of expectations for an almost-11 year old, a 7 year old, and two almost-4 year olds. Almost insane levels of expectation there.
They hit the mark. Every one of them.
Even before the wedding, they were hitting the mark. Mr G had two options of sweater to wear with his kilt, one Irish fisherman's sweater type (gorgeous, but not quite matching his brother's cable vest), and the other a matching sweater vest. He loved the complex cables and stitches in the former. He thought about it for maybe three minutes before turning to me and saying that while he loves the heavier sweater, the vest would look more appropriate. And instead of returning the heavier sweater as I'd planned to do, could he have it instead as a birthday gift? (Abso-freakin-lutely, and a hug to go with!) He then assessed his shoes and asked if he could wear black dress shoes instead of his comfy and reasonably acceptable brown boots. Uh. Who are you, again? Someone grew up about four years in a couple weeks, I think.
Preparing for the wedding, I carefully made dresses that even Miss R would wear - and then a few days before the wedding, she screamed and cried and begged to not wear that dress. AHHHHHH! But the day of, she eagerly donned the thing, and spun, and danced, and ran about in it without a fuss. I had to adjust the shoulder straps twice, that's all. Barely a blip.
They walked slowly down the aisle, they genuflected as requested at the altar, they took their seats, they bowed their heads at the right places, they stood still, they watched the service, they were quiet (enough), and even though the girls were climby and rambunctious in their pew across with epeepunk, I couldn't hear them except for the occasionaly squeak of the pew as Miss M knee-walked down the length of it toward the photographer.
Okay, so Miss M also picked her nose dramatically during the vows, standing up in front of everyone. But it raised chuckles rather than ire, and she did stop when she saw me (er, frantically) waving her hand down.
And they were themselves beyond that - Miss R wore sparkly flip-flops as her shoes. Miss M wore tights with pink and purple and blue hearts all over them. She didn't drag her gigantic stuffed shark down the aisle with her, but she brought it to the church. Mr B wore his cowboy boots with his kilt. The boys both had their manes tied back into pony tails with ribbon - Mr B's was bright red, which was not at all one of the wedding colors (spiced chocolate, cream, and forest green). The girls climbed on the stone walls at the reception, and fed the ducks, and examined rocks in the dirt. The boys sat outside at the games table in the cool air and played their gift game of Piratology. There was no yelling, only minor whining maybe twice (when hungry), and loads of cuteness.
Very high expectations, met. Many people asked if they always behaved like that. It was hard to answer - yes, and no. At formal events where the expectations are very high, yes, they tend to meet those expectations. They've got practice - we go to Scottish balls regularly, and they know the rules differ from home/play/grandma's. So they're ready for that. It helps a lot that they have a clue on that part. They also have been to church (though almost as far from Catholic as you can get, being UU), and know that the service is to be respected. They attend, and focus, and recognize when they are not the center of the experience. They've been given the opportunity to experience that, over and over. So when it comes to this kind of thing, they have a distinct advantage over the typical child whose parents don't go to formal events with kids in tow.
Still, I think just having those expectations is part of the deal. Yes, there's practice, and yes, there's discussion and education, and yes, there's us parents working with the kids to get their needs met (me going off to try to find water for the thirsty kids while they are listening to the photographer and doing as she asked). But being willing to have faith that they are able, to trust them to rise to the occasion, that's no small part of it.
Reciprocally, their expectations were met - we watched for the gaps and tried to help them bridge them. We were there to help them succeed, to feed, observe, direct, do potty runs, solve problems (though Mr B was the one who suggested that the frosting pinecones might be a safe option for the sweets, even if I was the one who tracked down the cake-serving location to obtain them).
It was a lovely wedding.
Congratulations, T and K.