When attending weddings pre-fatherhood days, I never really paid much attention to the parents who brought their babies, toddlers or kids.
From the outside it looked like a tough gig, but I never really gave it a second thought whilst downing my fourth glass of wine and munching on a piping hot meat dish.
Then it all changes when you bring your own.
Bringing and looking after your own toddler to a wedding is probably harder than running a country.
Deciding on who is driving is the first battle to get through. Whoever is allocated the dedicated driver role is immediately succumbed with power. The power to dictate and have ammunition at the ready in case the non-driver does not help out in a reasonable way.
Once you arrive at a wedding with your toddler, you immediately recognise that you will be working a similar shift pattern to that of an airport worker. A constant rotation of unsociable shifts means you will rarely see your wife or your friends; you rarely have time to scratch your arse.
Toddler misses the ceremony due to wanting to be up at the front with the bride and groom. To avoid a scene, she, along with mummy watch it from the comfort of a car park or via Skype.
My personal favourite shift is the “following toddler around like a lost sheep” shift. Toddler wants to explore this beautiful venue and leads the way in showing you around. The sights of (usually daddy’s) shuffling their feet two or three metres behind the toddler resemble zombies from the Resident Evil videogame. Boy do they wish they were discussing Chelsea’s recent managerial sacking over a bottle of Corona — instead they are playing a slow game of ‘follow the leader,’ followed by a game of ‘get-toddler-out-of-the-way-of-other-people’.
Our table resembled a posh nursery. It was busy and full to the brim of toddlers and babies – our toddler keeping us busy by refusing food and wanting to get down and run around the dance floor area. Separating us from other adult humans, was another young family with their freshly born small human who was a couple of months old — she was enjoying life like a queen – lying down, eyes wide open, smiling, legs wiggling around, everything done for her, not a care in the world. If I wanted to talk to that family, I had to request a microphone from the wedding team, we were that far apart. And then opposite us was a young father on his own with his 1-year-old — who was probably the best behaved small human since babies were invented. His dad was cool, calm and saw to his needs without a hitch. This dad had no time to talk to others — or more to the point there was no-one within half a mile of him due to him being separated from other adult humans by his kid. His wife was bridesmaid, so she was on a different table. He was alone.
I also noticed this strange group of people aimlessly pushing prams or pushchairs. At closer inspection it was a human conveyor belt of mums and dads strolling their kids out to get them to sleep. It was now my turn to step on this conveyor belt. As I strolled our toddler up and down, I came across an area of the wedding venue where only dads end up. It is basically a cult. Dads coming and going for this ticket-only event. That ticket is a small human in a pram or pushchair. It is an area where the pushchairs are being moved up and down, swayed side to side and dads reflecting on life. A real lost world of wedding venues – an underground cult of modern fathers doing their thing.
And then IT happened.
The moment our toddler had been waiting for. Whilst sitting on mummy’s lap reflecting on her toddler meal, the earth suddenly moved. An alignment of some kind had just occurred, because from nowhere, a species-ending apocalyptic eruption of vomit emanated from toddlers mouth. Shock from everyone around us was evident. The eruption spewed out in to the Earth’s atmosphere and on to toddler’s dress, overflowing on to mummy’s dress. All the while magma was spewing out and congregating in mummy’s hand. A new ocean had been formed in mummy’s hand. Cue 30 seconds of stunned silence from the public surrounding the toddler volcano, including myself.
And then IT happened all over again.
A further tonic or puke flowed aggressively toward the surrounding population — furniture was at risk of significant damage; people were in danger of serious injury or even death.
Cue mad panic.
Mummy was helpless — covered from head to toe in vomit, her head barely above water. She was drowning. Off I went to attempt to save her and toddler. I came back with some baby wipes as we were totally unprepared for an extinction event such as this. Obviously baby wipes were about as much use as what sunglasses would be on a bloke with one ear. Our neighbours seated next to us rushed off in search of help. A welcome relief, returning with some sturdy looking blue kitchen roll. I wiped what I could from mummy and toddler but the damage had already been done. This was a scene from the Titanic. Mummy and toddler were in the open ocean clinging to a life raft, hoping to be rescued.
Fortunately they were rescued. With the help of some quick thinking and ruthless undressing they were both escorted away from the scene of utter devastation. To the toilets. The putrid smell, spreading like wildfire throughout the venue. Carrots, chicken and other bodily contents littered everywhere. This is what the dinosaurs must have went through before they were wiped out.
Things calmed down and everyone was cleaned up.
It has been reported by the UK government that damage caused by the eruption will run in to “tens of millions”.