Well, we thought that might be pretty great. I mean, Caleb was all about kings and queens! He would love it1 So yes, we said he would do it.
As we got closer to time, we started talking to Caleb about it. He was ecstatic. He was so excited to be with Queen Lillian! And, he would get to ride on a float! And throw CANDY! Pretty soon, he was inviting everyone to the parade, promising he'd throw candy to them.
My parents decided to make the trip to come see little man. He would, after all, be in a tux, and that just can't be missed. I bought a new lens--a nice long one, so I could catch his face as he walked out with the queen on the football field.
Thursday morning, Jon took Caleb for the rehearsal. Halfway through, I received a desperate text. "Things are not going well. You better get here quick. Bring Tootsie Rolls."
I grabbed a bag of Tootsie Rolls, strapped James into our bike trailer, and off we went to the football field. (Yes, I can bike to the school from my house.)
It turns out that Caleb was doing more than just walking with the queen. He had to stand at certain times, sit at certain times, and carry the crown forward at a certain time. All a little too much for our 2-yr-old. He was feeling the pressure, and it was shutting him down.
|Caleb getting a pep talk from a football player. The little girl, Lila, is getting tips on the crown, just in case Caleb decides not to go through with it.|
|Cute boy, but not a happy one.|
|His only happy walk down the aisle. I had a glimmer of hope when I saw this.|
|Caleb and his friend Lindsey.|
|His ONLY smile of the day, brought to you by Lindsey.|
|Another pep talk. It's about time to walk the red carpet!|
|Mustering the courage.|
|Looking into the gym where everyone is waiting for him|
We pause for this brief announcement. The next events were not photographed, because the photographer (aka, me) was carrying a crying child down the red carpet. I pleaded, I promised everything I could think of, but when the moment came, Caleb turned to me and said, "But I just don't want to!" I grabbed his hand and we made it past the doorway into the gym. Lila was having similar issues, but finally made it down the red carpet holding her Daddy's hand. With Caleb's hand tightly in mine, I pretty much dragged him over to the red carpet. I was very aware that everyone else who had walked that red carpet had worn beautiful dresses and tuxes, and here I was wearing shorts, with a camera and purse slung over my shoulder. Woohoo frump mom. As Caleb's whine escalated to a wail, he dug in his heels, and I swooped him up onto my hip, made it down the red carpet, and deposited him with the rest of the royal court. I slunk over to the bleachers and resumed my role as photographer.
|Caleb receives his bag of candy|
|Everyone standing for the queen.|
|Everyone sits down. Except Caleb. Who continues to stand and wail.|
At this point, Jon reminds me that I'm not a photographer first, I'm a mom, and what in the world was I doing letting him stand there so miserably?? I came to my senses, went back out on the gym floor and saved the poor little tuxedoed mess of misery. He sat with us in the bleachers for the rest of the pep rally.
|My parents arrive, and I hope that their presence (and the promise of ice cream) will help Caleb make it through the rest of the day.|
|Out of his tuxedo, Caleb is a new boy. Happy and excited about the parade! (Which he was supposed to be in, but we didn't even attempt it.)|
|"GIVE US CANDY!!!"|
After the parade, our day moves on to phase two of the torture: the photo shoot with the royal court. It went....well, you can see how well it went.
|Tootsie Rolls are nothing in a crisis like this.|
As this day is going through, Jon and I are in knots. It's killing us to see Caleb so miserable, and we really felt like we had let everyone down. We knew (now!) that we had made a huge mistake. For whatever reason, Caleb was just not going to cooperate. We wanted to keep trying, thinking that maybe--just maybe--he would pull through for the Big Event on the football field. But the more we pushed, the more upset Caleb became. He knew he was disappointing us, but it was just too much for him.
We moved on to the football field. We decided we would give one last effort, but if Caleb's answer was no, we wouldn't push it any more.
|Grandma comes in for the final pep talk.|
|Ice cream! Queen Lillian needs her crown! We would be so happy! What is it going to take??|
|Here comes Queen Lillian! Will Caleb do it??|
|No. Lila takes the reigns and carries the crown to the queen.|
We quickly head off the field, relieved that the horrible experience was over. Caleb pulled off his tuxedo and cheered from the bleachers as if nothing had happened. We cheered until halftime, then headed to get the promised ice cream (because let's face it: even if he didn't follow through with his end of the bargain, you think he was going to let us off the hook?). As we passed Queen Lillian (as we still call her to this day), Caleb told her, "But...I just didn't want to give you your crown." Which I think was his way of apologizing. He still mentions it occasionally, but it's definitely an experience we don't want to relive.
Do you think we learned our lesson? I don't know. You tell me.
We signed James up to be Baby Jesus for the Christmas Nativity.