A few years ago, I became aware of something new in terms of weddings, parties, and events: the effects of the presence of young children. At my cousin’s wedding reception, some of my family and I were near a couple with a baby. I had been strongly working to tune out he baby’s cries, when my aunt commented to another cousin of mine, ‘This is why we didn’t allow kids at your wedding.’ (Although, now that I write that, I feel like it might have been the cousin to say it about her own wedding.) It wasn’t that the baby was a problem. That was not at all the case. It was simply that the baby altered the atmosphere significantly for all of those around it.
This weekend, I experienced one of the strongest respects for the ‘No Children’ policy. Children are great, and I need not be convinced of this. I love children on their own turf, in their own environments. However, my former belief that excluding children from events was just because people wanted to get stupid drunk is now history. Without children, the atmosphere is at ease. Period. With children, almost every single time, at least one person is always a little stressed (watching the kids), and likely several people end up stressed and annoyed, as well. When a child is constantly running around, an unidentifiable parent allowing the child to be roaming free, things are at their worst for the other guests, because there is a sense of obligation felt to watch out for the young, solo child. Even when a child is attached to its parent, seeing parenting skills that are less than extraordinary is stressful just to see.
As I watched yet another person take away an incredibly breakable object from a kid tonight, – I even got to take away calmly a ceramic dish from this child earlier in the evening – my annoyance was raised just that much more. The kids were all really sweet and nice. But kids are incapable of being fully respnsile for themselves and their behavior, and these were kids. As I noticed with my stress levels last night, one rogue child can ruin a party’s mood. And much more so than an annoying adult. When an event is designed for children, then kids can be themselves, through and through. Weddings and most events of a similar setup are not designed for children, but for adults. And so the presence of children really just doesn’t work.