The perfect guest RSVPs as soon as she receives the invitation, confirming numbers of guests with gracious thanks. I lose the invitation, assume a message has been passed on, finally do manage to confirm our attendance at least a month late, and have two small children with special dietary requirements (I did bring their own food with me though).
The perfect guest selects a gift from the registry, has it delivered to the bride in advance of the ceremony, and keeps the receipt in a safe place in case there is a problem. I lose the details of where the couple are registered, select a nice but random gift (actually, I'm not sure that this is imperfect; even if I had the gift list I still prefer to give something which is personal to me as well as to them. Then again the perfect guest could probably locate something on the list which would be just that), have to send out a last minute plea for wrapping paper and finally manage to cover the box with crumbs from Hot Cross Buns. Did at least manage to remember to bring it with us though; although sadly this imperfect guest did forget to take it out of the van until much later on when the table for the gifts was no longer in sight.
The perfect wedding guest decides on her outfit early, and checks that it fits before the morning of the wedding. And that's the last I'm saying about that!
The perfect wedding guests arrive in good time, neither too early nor too late, and take their appointed place in the church, where they wait quietly for the service to begin. I bring two small children in wheelchairs, require furniture to be shifted, and then have to make a break for the loos to decontaminate one child from the car journey.
During the service, the perfect wedding guests sing tunefully and with gusto during the hymns, and sit quietly and attentively during the prayers, sermon, exchanging of vows, and exquisite solo musical interlude. A two year old child is never ever going to be the perfect wedding guest! Not only do I bring the toddler, I also come equipped with a Mog. Mog is musical, Mog loves to sing. Mog sang loudly - tunefully, but loudly - throughout the solo pieces as well as through the hymns, and shared her appreciation at the rest of the service too.
We had a good time. Lovely to see all the relatives we only ever manage to see at Weddings and other Family Events (and yes, both Family (ours) and Events (of the kind we have) definitely qualify for capital letters!), and absolutely wonderful to see my cousin so radiantly beautifully happy. An unusual (by today's standards) service - traditional not so much in the words spoken nor in the hymns sung, but in the emphasis on Ephesians 5. Not something which features heavily in most weddings around here.
The perfect wedding guest probably manages to stay for most of the reception, but unfortunately bedtime happened immediately after the speeches so we made a hasty farewell and headed back to our hotel room. Now in theory we had been booked into the disabled room; in practice we had an ordinary family room. This is a mistake we will now repeat; the accessible room does indeed have a nice bathroom with a wide door, but the family room has enough beds for all of us. One day hotels will realise that simply being disabled does not automatically preclude one from having a family life (and also that children can be disabled and many of these children prefer not to share a double bed with their parents), and be more flexible in their provision of beds. Until then, we'll stick with the family rooms and settle for carrying children into the bathroom.
Little Fish settled on one bit of bed, Mog settled on a trundle bed neatly propped up with the bolster from the settee, leaving me a double bed all to myself. Luxury - usually I share this with one child and have another child on a duvet nest wedged between bed and wall. For once, Mog settled without her music and the noise of Little Fish's ventilator did not keep her awake. Little Fish always sleeps - plug her into her ventilator and as her breathing switches off so does the rest of her and she's down for the night. Lovely.
Woke up to a choking Mog and a curiously blue/white light from the window. Snow. Not a total surprise, having driven up through hailstorms and having had blizzard warnings from fellow guests. But still prettier to look at than drive through. Mog seemed a little uncomfortable, and so I cuddled her in my own bed for a while to see if we could both settle down again. She choked properly at one point, so I flipped her upside down and let her cough things up, before deciding it was probably time to start the day. After the big choke, one much happier little girl. Two girls dressed, one mother dressed, one set of grandparents, one great great aunt, one uncle and one fiance all dressed and organised (thankfully I was only responsible for the two girls and the mother, i.e. myself), we gathered in reception and prepared to head next door to the restaurant. Where we made the ever-pleasant discovery that the hotel did not provide breakfast anymore. Joy.
A hastier than planned checking out of the hotel, into cars, skidding through two inches of snow in the carpark and out onto the thankfully gritted main roads. Watford Gap services provided a very welcome breakfast - Mum introduced me to the pleasures of the almond croissant. Bearing in mind paragraph three, this may not have been the most useful discovery on the planet! It was as we were eating croissants and drinking coffee, that Mum spotted the gap in Mog's mouth. That choke in the morning was her losing her first front tooth. My little girl now one big girl with a gappy toothed grin. She was very pleased someone had finally noticed! Oddly enough just before her big choke I'd been wobbling her upper teeth, which have been loose for months. This was a bottom one, and the other bottom tooth is also very loose. Wobbling it causes her to shoot dribble, gag, and breathe incredibly noisily. I have a feeling we may have discovered the cause of her recent breathing issues. I hope so - a nice straightforwards if slightly unusual tooth related issue. She did have dreadful problems cutting teeth as a baby; not being able to chew or bite on anything they took forever to come through, and she needed lots of brushing and rubbing to help cut them. So it wouldn't be a total surprise to any of us if she had a few problems losing them too. My one minor disappointment is that I don't have the tooth itself - I suspect she spat it onto the hotel room floor. And if she didn't, then it's on its way through her body, and I'm not entirely certain I want to find it quite that much!
We made it home safely - although the van seems to be having clutch problems, so I won't be driving very much until we can get it fixed - suddenly losing speed and having a van convinced it's in 3rd gear when the driver is certain it's in 5th is not the most reassuring method of transport.
Two tired girls sleeping sweetly and one tired mother about to follow suit