A few weeks ago, I was invited to a ‘french picnic’ for a kids clothing launch in the Hamptons through my friends at Hey Mama. I don’t usually get invited to such things and didn’t give it much thought until that weekend, when we had friends visiting. The men wanted to play golf, so I suggested to my friend Emily that we take the kids to the party.
“What is it exactly?”
“I’m not sure.”
We pulled up the email invite. It said it was for a clothing collaboration between Love Shack Fancy and Romy and the Bunnies. It promised to be kid-friendly and have snacks.
We agreed it might be fun.
Now. I don’t go to many fancy events in the Hamptons. I don’t even know if I knew exactly what a fancy event in the Hamptons really was… until I pulled up to this particular soiree.
There was a wooden rope swing dangling from a tree with some white balloons signaling we had reached our destination and to use the gate to go around to the back yard.
Once through the gate, we saw a long wooden table with a spread of pies and paper sacks full of cherries.
There was another table piled high with pink and white marshmallow candy.
And a third table with a huge glass dispenser of pink lemonade.
Oversized balloons flew above our heads, a clothesline with the sweetest baby clothes was strung across the yard and baskets of pink parasols lay casually on the ground.
Further into the backyard was a long low table for the kids with craft projects on top. White lacy pillows were spread underneath for them to plop down on the ground without ruining their outfits.
Beautiful blonde women wearing long white dresses were helping the kids with their crafts and weaving flower crowns to place atop everyone’s heads.
“WHAT IS THIS?” Emily whisper shouted.
“I HAVE NO IDEA.” I whisper shouted back.
I had never seen anything look so….. perfect. Like I had been living on the wrong side of the tracks my whole life and just stumbled onto the right side for the first time. Or I had died on the car ride over and was now being ushered into heaven. Or maybe this was like a scene from True Blood and we were just minutes away from all the beautiful people turning into monsters!
“Are you sure we’re supposed to be here?” Emily wondered aloud.
I wasn’t sure.
My immediate inclination was to Instagram the shit out of this party, but that was thwarted by Harlow who had fallen asleep on the ride over. I had woken her up to go inside and she was NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT.
You can’t tell from my pictures because I chose not to call attention to my crying toddler and risk making it worse by shoving a camera in her face, but TRUST— girl was not pleased.
Mazzy, on the other hand, acted like she had finally found her real home and was off in a flash to get her face painted like a butterfly, try on a flower crown, mainline the lemonade, check out the clothing collection and run around the vineyard with a parasol.
Yes, the vineyard.
I was left balancing my bag and a cranky Harlow in one arm and my iPhone in the other, trying desperately to capture the otherworldliness of this event so I could prove to Instagram that it existed.
“Can I put you down?” I asked Harlow sweetly.
“NO!!!!!” she screeched back.
FYI, Harlow’s wrath seemed totally out of place in heaven.
“Shhhh…” I cooed sweetly as I tried to place her at my feet.
“NO!!!!!!!” she screeched louder and went limp.
Oh boy. I picked her up as she wiped her snot-filled nose on my shoulder. She was hot and sweaty from her nap and her hair was matted to her head. I looked around, searching for other parents struggling with their kids, but I could find no one to commiserate with. All the children were dressed to the nines, gorgeous and perfectly behaved. Even Emily’s kids had made themselves at home at the craft table. There was Emily’s little girl chatting up Rachel Zoe. Holy crap, Rachel Zoe is at this picnic???
“I WANT THAT!!!!!!!!”
That was Harlow screaming and pointing at the candy table. Maybe if I just plied her with sugar, she would behave as well as all the other children. Maybe that was what beautiful parents did!
I handed Harlow a huge meringue marshmallow thing. She took a bite.
“I DON’T LIKE IT!!!!!!!”
How do you explain to a two-year-old that this is not how one behaves at a very fancy french picnic in the Hamptons?
“Do you want lemonade?”
Yep, that’s right. I tried to stop the candy tantrum with the promise of sugar in liquid form.
We stumbled over to the lemonade table where a handsome server was doling out pink lemonade. He poured lemonade in a paper cup but Harlow freaked out, “No, not THAT cup!!!!” She wanted the glass cup. I transferred the lemonade into a glass with my free hand and handed it to Harlow, who I was still holding, along with my bag and my iPhone, which really should have been in my pocket. The server eyed me suspiciously. Harlow sloshed the glass around and spilled it on both of us. The server gave me a sad look that said, “The heathens should really go back to the other side of town.”
Mazzy seemed to instinctually understand I could not risk a second tantrum from my other child in this environment and used this knowledge to eat as much candy as possible.
We walked further into the party.
And further into the party.
And further into the party.
For fuck’s sake, how big is this backyard??????
I literally could not see an end to it.
There was a white teepee set up in the grass. Harlow crawled in and started playing with a stack of tea cups and plates.
Wait— was that real china??? It was. I crawled into the tent behind her to make sure she didn’t break anything. Oh my god, it’s like an OVEN in this tent! Am I the only one with sweat dripping down my back??
I crawled back out.
Then another little kid went into the tent, no doubt to have an incredibly civilized tea party with Harlow. He took a plate.
“NO!!!!” Harlow screamed. “IT’S MINE!!!!!”
She started grabbing all the china and piling it into her very own porcelain collection. CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG.
“Harlow! You can’t throw around china like that!!!” I whisper shouted. She started crying again. Figures the one thing that made Harlow happy was breakable. How exactly does one explain the dangers of throwing china to a two-year-old who should never have access to china to begin with??
Hmmmm… maybe they give rich kids china at an early age so they learn nice things break and you need to treat them with care…
But this was not the place for Harlow to learn The China Lesson, as I did not want actual blood added to our sweat and tears when everyone else looked like they had just stepped out of a magazine.
That’s when a photographer came up to me and said he had just captured the best picture of my daughter. He showed it to me.
Harlow had given him her signature glare.
She looked fierce and fabulous and so very Harlow. She looked like she had been born in that flower crown and totally belonged there.
He also took a picture of the two of us where I didn’t look nearly as sweaty as I imagined.
Harlow relaxed too as she began to wake up and warm up to the experience.
For the rest of the afternoon, Mazzy and Harlow had a fabulous time. My friend’s kids had a fabulous time too.
Emily and I tried our best to capture the event in photos but we couldn’t really do it justice. It was way too pretty.
When it was time to leave, I scanned the party one last time to take it all in. The candy, the clothes, the people…
Suddenly, I noticed a modelesque woman in white trying to wrangle her incredibly well-dressed two-year-old away from the candy table. The little girl was screeching at the top of her lungs in full-on tantrum mode lying in the grass. The woman was trying desperately to pick her up off the ground without causing too much of a scene.
At least I imagine the rich beautiful people feel exactly the same as I do when my child throws a tantrum in public. Although it’s entirely possible, they do no such thing. They know this is just what children do and there will be another french picnic tomorrow so no big deal.
Then I saw a bunch of the perfectly behaved children drinking the pink lemonade straight from the spout like college kids at a keg party.
Ah. So they are not so perfectly behaved after all.
The next day I looked up the event online to find the pictures the photographer took of Harlow. In addition to the photo I already posted above, I found this:
I kind of like that Harlow doesn’t change her behavior for anybody. You get what she gives. She is who she is. And she’s not going to smile just because she’s at a fancy French picnic.
Plus, True Blood wouldn’t have been very interesting without the monsters, right?