We attended a wedding for some good friends this past weekend. It was a beautiful outdoor event near an old barn. The ceremony took place under a canopy of dragonflies and sunshine.
The girls were especially excited about the wedding. They had talked about it for weeks leading up to the actual event. Clara asked more than usual for me to tell her about the man she will marry someday, and what her name will be after they get married. The magic and mystery of the strange caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation of young girl to bride was fresh and vital on her little mind.
So, it was interesting on Saturday to watch her throughout the afternoon as she and her little sister witnessed all of the traditional wedding routines take place. They bombarded candy bowls like hungry pixies, and wove through legs in their soft summer dresses with pink cheeks and fairy smiles. They rode on dragonflies backs and chased boys around the tents and wooden tables. The newlyweds floated over them, just children themselves, and yet in the eyes of a 5-year old they were clearly full-grown adults. A man in a suit and a woman in a white dress living in a world so far away. A world Clara would never understand.
At one point, the music was turned up and the whole bridal party was dancing happily in the middle of the barn. I was standing by the far wall holding a sleepy Lydia and I noticed Clara through the crowd of swirling faces. She was standing next to the cake table watching the kicking and swishing people as they danced and swayed. She looked up at me from across the room and smirked, a dimple showing on her starry-eyed face. I watched as she glanced around the room, holding the table in her dizzy excitement. She was living in a world of fireworks. She looked halfway between fear and joy. She shot me a few more amazed glances as if to say, “What is happening? Is this normal? Should we be here?” All I could do was smile back at her.
Shortly before the evening ended I agreed to accompany her on a trip to the “Portal Potty” (her words, not mine). And I waited with her in the crowded little blue glowing room as she reflected on the day.
“Everyone kept asking me to dance,” She said. “But I said no.” she thought for a moment. “I like dancing, but I like dancing at home, with you. I didn’t really want to dance with strangers all standing around watching me.”
“And I like to dance to your music. This music was…” she trailed off and waved her hand meaninglessly.
“I understand. And I know why you don’t like doing that kind of thing in front of people,” I told her. “It’s because you are my daughter, and that means you are like me. And Daddy likes to dance and listen to music, but not in front of other people.”
“Yes,” she said. “I’m a lot like you. Also, I’m like you in that I like three layers instead of one, right daddy?”
“What?” I asked her.
She pointed in front of her to the toilet paper roll hanging behind where I was leaning. “This one has only one layer. We have three at home, and that’s better, right?”
I glanced down. “Right. But this is okay too.”
She sighed and was silent for a moment. “I think when I grow up, that I would like to marry you. But I know I probably can’t do that because we are in the same family. And you can’t marry someone in your same family right?” She asked the question expectantly.
“No,” I told her. “And there are other issues with that plan as well. But it doesn’t matter. You could maybe marry someone who is kind of like me when you grow up.” but then I considered this for moment. “He would probably drive me insane though. My advice is to find a nice young boy that is like your Mom and marry him. I think that would make you very happy.”
She smiled and nodded her head.
Not long after this we blew bubbles at the bride and groom and she fell asleep in the car on the way home.