Every Child Left Behind

Even now, with just over a month before the wedding, my mother is still fond of making passive-aggressive comments about how it’s a shame we are not allowing kids to be there. I nod and mumble some sort of innocuous acknowledgement. All she’s doing, though, is giving a gel pack to a marathon runner in the 25th mile.

I am entering the weary stage right now, with my credit card number memorized from entering it so many times and a growing inclination to just go along with what everyone else wants until it’s all mercifully over. But challenges to our every-child-left-behind policy stoke the fire.

The question of why kids should not be at our wedding is improperly framed. Ask instead why they need to be there. Because we love them?

Weddings have very little to do with love. Anything that requires so much pomp and circumstance generally does not have a strong principle behind it. The more ostentatious the wedding, the harder I cheer for that couple to divorce.

Marriage is about love. Not weddings. Weddings are about getting borderline blacked-out drunk to facilitate honest moments with the people closest to you in life, because they soon will be replaced and things will never be the same again.

Where do children fit into that picture? Are they going to pound a whiskey shot and ruminate with you about getting old? Do you want to catch up with them about careers, sports, the housing market, sex life?

Children’s primary function at a wedding is to siphon attention and fun from what’s really important. They wobble around on the dance floor, and it’s supposed to be cute. Never mind they are taking up limited real estate while the J.T. song should be galvanizing people who actually know how to party and don’t have a bedtime of 9 o’clock.

Kids either misbehave and are annoying or behave and are boring. And rather than being confined to their own no-value-added section, they somehow make their parents more annoying and boring as well.

They are a black hole during all social interaction, exerting an insurmountable pull on nearby adults into mindless oblivion. Just when their parents show a glimmer of who they once were, the conversation steers back to treating normal children as if they were remarkable.

And no normal child feels 100-percent comfortable being dressed in a suit and told to sit still and be quiet on a Saturday while grownups play king and queen. No normal adult feels 100-percent comfortable drinking hard around children.

So you see a very binary two-party system here. There are parties with children, and there are parties without children.

Even one tiny, well-mannered kid completely changes the dynamic. The ambience is no longer the same. This isn’t like a vegetarian meal at a barbecue that has no effect on others. It’s more like bringing one STD to an orgy. People can work around it by keeping their distance, but it still kills the overall vibe and is an unnecessary liability.

Now, I do not mean to compare a child to an STD. (Although if you were to make me choose one as an outcome of a poor sexual decision, I would definitely have to think about it and inquire which STD.)

Listen, I have family and best friends with young children. I know people who have gone through hell and back to have kids. I attended two birthday parties for 1-year-olds this year, by myself no less. I spoke Chinese to them to exercise their developing cognitive abilities and set them up for being multilingual.

The point is I care about your kids. But I only love them because they are an extension of you. Otherwise I would hate them or at best, be neutral. This wedding has nothing to do with them anyway. It has everything to do with you and me, before you had kids. I want to celebrate that for a day.



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