Title: Kristy’s Big Day
Summary: Kristy’s mom is getting married, and Kristy’s a bridesmaid. The only trouble is, fourteen little kids are coming to the wedding, and they all need baby-sitters. Here comes the Baby-sitters Club!
Stacey, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, and Kristy think they can handle fourteen kids. But that’s before they spend five days changing diapers, stopping fights, solving mix-ups, righting wrongs…and getting sick and tired of baby-sitting!
One thing’s for sure. This is a crazy way to have a wedding. But it’s a great way to have a lot of fun!
Tagline: Kristy’s a baby-sitter—and a bridesmaid, too!
Going in, all I could really remember about this one was that they ran a sort of summer camp for children, and were looking after so many of them at once that they had to divide them into groups.
I wasn’t a very wedding-enthusiastic child. I mean, it wouldn’t have thrilled me to be a bridesmaid, and I found it incredibly tedious to have to attend weddings. Even so, it’s weird how I apparently completely forgot every single thing about the wedding part of the plot.
Also, I’ve read this book probably a dozen times, and only just now noticed how odd that title is; it makes it sound like Kristy’s the one getting married.
[Wing: That’s a really good point about the title. I’m still not a big wedding person, though I’ve had fun at them over the years. I like planning things for them, though. Best wedding story: I set some church drapes on fire once when I was a kid. I’m guessing that’ll be a surprise to absolutely no one.]
[Dove: Well, I hadn’t noticed it before, but now the front cover does hint at child bride too.]
For me, a little bit of Karen Brewer goes a long way, but I have to admit she provides a great opening paragraph:
“Old Ben Brewer was crazy. As crazy as anything. He ate fried dandelions, and after he turned fifty, he never left his house…except to go out in the yard to get dandelions. When he died, his ghost stayed behind. I’m telling you, he haunts our attic.”
Okay, so it’s annoying AF that now she calls people crazy in addition to hounding them for being witches. But the “except to get more dandelions” part of that explanation made me laugh.
New squad goals: I’m going to spend my dotage dressed like a witch and picking dandelions, which I shall pretend I’m going to fry and eat. Who’s with me? [Wing: 100% #teamdandelioneatingwitch]
Anyway, all the Ben Brewer ghost stuff leads neatly into Karen informing Kristy that she needs to know all about the ghost since she’ll be moving into their house and her bedroom is on the third floor, which in turn leads to the explanation that Kristy’s mother is marrying Watson, and he’s a millionaire with a mansion, and there are a whole heap of siblings: Kristy’s brothers, Charlie, Sam, and David Michael; Karen and her brother Andrew. Okay, I know that’s only six children, but I’m an only child and the size of the Thomas/Brewer family makes me slightly claustrophobic. [Wing: I’m one of six and that makes me feel claustrophobic, even knowing they’re moving into a mansion. The Pike family is even worse because of less physical space. (I may be one of six, but only two of us grew up in the same house at the same time.] [Dove: I’m an only child who grew up in a single-parent family. Once you get past two siblings, it’s just word soup to me.]
Chapter one also gives us a brief overview of the BSC and the names of the members. I won’t go into all that again.
We entered through the back door of our house and went into the dining room. The table was set for eight. Candles were burning and the lights had been dimmed. A bottle of red wine stood next to Watson’s place. The dining room had been transformed into an Italian restaurant.
I…really don’t think so, Kristy.
Charlie’s not allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner even though he’s seventeen. Is this realistic for American families, or is this a cleaned-up-for-children’s-fiction version of reality? [Wing: Completely realistic. Our legal drinking age isn’t until 21.] [Dove: But here you go, son. Your first AK-47, the perfect gift for a four year old. Snark aside, I was offered a sip of my mum’s wine whenever she had it. Naturally I found it gross and couldn’t work out why adults drank it. Actually, that’s still how I feel… about pretty much anything that isn’t water or very weak juice.]
There’s a nice reminder of the realities of blending families: Kristy’s mom, Elizabeth, is concerned that there’s going to be friction between seven-year-old David Michael (used to being the baby of the family) and six-year-old Karen (used to being the eldest child in her family) because they’re close enough in age to be competitive about toys and privileges and stuff, and also because Karen goes to private school but David Michael will be continuing in his public school. It’s the little, chatty details like this that keep me from hating the whole “mom’s marrying a millionaire” plotline. It’s never presented as the solution to every problem, which feels realistic to me.
And then the book just confuses the hell out of me with this:
“Your bridesmaid?” I whispered. “Really? Like in a long, fancy dress with flowers in my hair?” I was awed.
“Since when do you like long, fancy dresses and flowers?” asked Sam.
“Since right now,” I replied.
At least Sam shares my confusion. [Wing: RIGHT?! This is Kristy! She lives in jeans and t-shirts and sweaters. Why? WHY? Why would she be excited about a dress? Her characterisation throughout the series is that she hates dresses.]
Charlie gets to give Elizabeth away. I suppose that’s…touching? I don’t know, I hate the whole “giving the bride away” thing and I didn’t do it myself, so I can’t really judge it fairly. [Wing: I’d like it better if they called it escorting her down the aisle.] [Dove: At my wedding, the priest asked “Who’s giving the bride away?” I shot Wing a panicked look. She gave a quick nod, then answered, as if this had been the plan all along, “I will.” The video footage of us trying to match strides with no practice and being a foot difference in height is awesome!]
Karen’s going to be a flower girl, which sounds straight out like a recipe for disaster to me, and David Michael’s going to be the ringbearer. Andrew is supposed to escort Karen. Only he refuses, saying he doesn’t want to be in the wedding. Uh oh.
Chapter Two opens with Kristy philosophizing that good things are usually followed by bad things:
On Saturday we had all that good wedding news. Mom and Watson had settled on the September date. They’d asked us kids to be part of the ceremony. Mom had even told me later that my wedding shoes could be my first pair of shoes with heels. I couldn’t believe it.
That was Saturday.
On Wednesday, just four days later, came the bad stuff. The whole wedding fell apart. In one glump.
Okay, first of all: who are you and what have you done with the real Kristy Thomas? Since when do we care about heels?
Also, what’s a glump? [Dove: Really good question. I assumed it was a typo in my ebook.]
Then comes the explanation, and I have never fully understood this. Not the first time I read it, not now, not ever. Here goes: the Thomas’ house has sold faster than expected, and the new buyer wants to move in by July, so she and Watson have to be married by the end of June so the Thomas’ can all move into the Brewer’s house by mid-July.
…I mean, Kristy just spent chapter one telling us the Brewer mansion is so huge that not only do her brothers all get their own rooms, but they could probably have each had a suite of rooms if they’d asked. So why can’t a suite of rooms be found for Elizabeth to stay in?
(There’s a whole other layer I don’t understand, too. She and Watson are adults, and neither of them is a simpering virgin: they each have children, and failed first marriages, and are actual really-adult people! So I’m finding it a little…unexpected that they’d even need separate rooms before the wedding, honestly. But fine! I know that’s a sort of symbolic thingy for a lot of people, and I respect that it’s important to them.
But surely stashing her away in a room at the far end of the mansion, with six children between them, would satisfy honour?
Elizabeth’s mother could come stay with them for the summer and be a chaperone, even.)
[Wing: All of those were points I wanted to make, but you said them so much better than I did. This whole setup is ridiculous.] [Dove: Thirded. I guess the 80s liked everything “pure”. Even when pure was long gone.]
The entire rest of this book kind of revolves around pulling together a wedding in two and a half weeks, so the reason they’re DOING that should be convincing. And it isn’t, not even a little bit.
I think everyone in this book has been replaced by a pod person.
Elizabeth proceeds to lose her mind, ranting about tents and crab cakes. I don’t blame her, because the stress of moving house unhinges me too, and I’ve never done it while simultaneously planning a wedding with three hundred guests.
Then Kristy goes to her room and remembers sending flashlight-code messages and wonders “What was I ever going to do without Mary Anne next door?” and I absolutely DID NOT cry at that at all, shut up.
Kristy gets called back downstairs so she can help her mother make lists, and by the time it’s time for a BSC meeting (and chapter three) she’s feeling sorry for her mother because she’s started to understand just how much planning a wedding takes. [Dove: It’s dead simple. You tell Wing, “I’m getting married in [place] at [date and time],” and then everything just happens as if by magic.]Necromommycon: Impressive. I mean, I’m not PLANNING to get married ever again, but if I do I’ll totally book Wing.]
Okay, wait, the real Kristy just showed up:
Mom had kept me so busy with the wedding lists that by the time I dashed across the street to Claudia’s house, it was five-thirty-six and I was the last to arrive. As club president, that was not an ideal situation.
She takes a moment to look at all her friends and describe their clothes, because this is a BSC book. A few months haven’t been enough time for Kristy to get used to seeing Mary Anne’s hair down loose instead of in two braids. Aww.
Sam’s prank-called the meeting already, pretending to be Marmee March. [Wing: That’s actually kind of cute, though I’m not sure Sam would be familiar enough with the story to make the reference.]
Pod-Kristy gets into describing her bridesmaid dress in between business calls from BSC clients, but then she wrinkles her nose when Dawn suggests she choose pink, so either this is the real Kristy or Pod-Kristy is really convincing.
There’s a dance coming up because school is nearly over for the year. It’s called the Final Fling, which sounds like something else Elizabeth’s got to get done in the next two weeks.
“Well, I’m going,” said Claudia.
“With Trevor?” I asked. Trevour Sandbourne was the love of Claudia’s life last fall.
Claudia looked at me as if I’d asked if she was going to the dance with Winnie-the-Pooh. “Trevor? No. Trevor’s probably dating his own poetry at this point. That’s all he cares about.”
I’m way too old to be laughing this hard at that, but here we are. [Wing: SAME. This will never not be funny.]
They talk about what they’re going to wear to the Final Fling, and who’s going with who, and by the end of the meeting Kristy claims she’s more excited about the dance than the wedding. See? Pod person. I can’t see Kristy being all that excited about either of those things.
Considering how much Final Fling chatter there is, I was a little bit disappointed that Chapter 4 dismisses it in a single paragraph. But I guess not every dance has to be described in loving/painful detail; this isn’t Sweet Valley. [Wing: Thank god for that. I’m now picturing a crossover, though.]
Kirsty comes home on the last day of school lugging a garbage bag full of junk, and finds her mother teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown again. Kristy makes a series of amusing guesses about the wedding (“The wedding’s in five minutes and we’re moving tonight?”), but this time it’s not the timing that’s worrying Elizabeth. It’s the guests and their children.
Watson’s ex-wife and her new husband are going to England and so suddenly Karen and Andrew will be with him. I don’t find that outrageously awful—when you have shared custody you should probably expected unexpected rearrangements, I guess—but there’s something slightly passive-aggressive about that timing. You suddenly have to go to England? You couldn’t have mentioned it before this week? I don’t know, it just bugs me. [Wing: Yeah, it’s weird. Not that he has to keep them, because of course he does, but this is, what, like two days before they leave? And they haven’t told Watson yet? That’s some bullshit.]
As for the other guests-with-kids, I’m going to make a list, because otherwise there’s no way I’ll remember who belongs with who and where they’re staying:
- Aunt Colleen and Uncle Wallace are bringing Ashley, Berk, Grace, and Peter (Ramada Inn). [Dove: Berk is cockney rhyming slang for a very offensive word (“Berkshire Hunt”). His name makes me smirk.]
- Aunt Theo and Uncle Neal are bringing Emma, Beth, and Luke (Ramada Inn).
- Watson’s BFF, Tom Fielding, is coming, along with his wife and their children: Katherine, Patrick, Maura, and Tony (at the mansion).
All these people are coming down on the weekend before the wedding to “help with the wedding,” so for the week there’ll be a whole lot of children needing supervision.
Is it just me, or does this sound like the OPPOSITE of helpful? I would seriously tell all of these people to take a flying leap, or at the very least, to figure out for themselves what they’re doing with their offspring. How much help can anyone be if they’ve got three or four children with them? When I have Stuff To Do my husband takes the kids somewhere else so I can do it; he doesn’t pretend to be helping me by hanging around.
But Elizabeth is either just more polite than I am, or the stress has rendered her wishy-washy and incapable of speaking her mind. Or, you know: Pod Person. Whatever the cause, she’s just sitting there melting down because fourteen children are going to be underfoot while she tries to cook and set up chairs and do flower arrangements.
So Kristy has another brilliant Kristy-style idea. She and the rest of the BSC can look after the fourteen children from nine to five every day for five days.
That sounds like an absolute NIGHTMARE to me, and I’m a grown woman. When I was thirteen the mere suggestion of that would’ve made me run away or join a cult or something. [Wing: Well, we’re getting pretty close to the point where the BSC starts to feel like a cult, so maybe they did.]
But Elizabeth likes the idea, and agrees to pay the club six hundred dollars at the end of the week, which will be $120 each. That’s only three dollars an hour, but those are 1987 dollars, and the BSC are only kids. Problem solved! [Wing: Oooh, updated version is $1000 and $200 each, which I still thought was pretty low, but that’s even worse.]
Just then David Michael comes home, loaded down with rolled-up artwork and papers, and proudly informs them that his classmates voted him “Best citizen of the year in Mr. Bowman’s room.” [Dove: Mr Bowman?] Aww. And as always, the little details of this get children just right:
(There’s this wall in the den that’s covered with awards Charlie and Sam and I have won. There’s also a table filled with trophies. Until today, David Michael didn’t have any awards or trophies, so this was a big deal for him.)
This reminds Kristy that there won’t be an awards wall in two weeks’ time, because they’re moving. I feel for her. I know it’s only across town, but children get really attached to their homes, given half a chance. There’s something about being tied to a place, and having memories attached to each room, that’s particularly acute in childhood.
Once again I feel like I’m over-quoting, but this conversation is too good not to share directly:
“Well, for instance, if Watson was my real father, and he was still a millionaire, I could ask him for big things, like a VCR for my bedroom. But since he’ll only be my step, can I ask him for anything? I mean, say I need to borrow a couple of dollars and Mom’s not around. Could I ask Watson? Mom said something about Watson not having to be responsible for four college educations.”
“There’s a big difference between four college tuitions and two dollars,” said Sam.
“I know. But there’s a big difference between four tuitions and a VCR, too, and I wouldn’t ask him for a VCR. Where do you draw the line? In what ways is he our father?”
I love that she’s not just viewing him as a cash machine, and has some sense of propriety around this. I mean, if I were Watson I’d consider them my children when it came to giving out VCRs (ancient technology!), and I like to think that in-book-Watson feels the way I do, but I love Kristy’s caution and respect around the whole thing. [Wing: Agreed on all counts. I don’t really see Watson distinguishing between types of kids, but I love that Kristy, Sam, and Charlie are taking these changes seriously. I love good sibling interactions.]
Charlie reminds her that none of them, not even their parents, know yet how it will work out, and Sam reassures her that they can make it work.
I love these fictional people so much, guys.
Kristy opens Chapter 5 by calling an emergency meeting of the BSC to tell them about the hordes of children and the $600. They agree to do it, and immediately check that they don’t have other commitments for the week. These kids are so much more organized than I am. Kristy is supposed to sit for Jamie Newton, but she calls his mother and gets her to agree that he can just join the horde. His mother says it will be good practice for him, since he’ll be starting nursery school in the fall and needs to get used to being around other children.
Then they sort the children by ages and divide them into five groups according to age. This is so sensible I’m reeling around in awe. Honestly, if you dumped fourteen children on me I’d just sob quietly. [Dove: I’d leave the country. And I hate to travel, but I loved the organisation here – especially the colour coding for the name stickers.]
Stacey especially wants the older kids (8, 9, and 10 years old) and Mary Anne especially wants the babies (an infant and a 1-year-old), so they get assigned those.
Then they also assign colour names to each group (the red group, the blue group, etc) and make colour-coordinated name tags for the kids (and for themselves, so at a glance the kids can see which leader they should be following) and OH MY GOD. This is literally more organized than the summer camps I have shelled out HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of dollars on.
(Incidentally, I know Claudia can’t spell, but the idea of a box marked STILL LIFS AND PORTRITS is making me want to scream.)
Mimi brings them a tray of sodas, and tells them that next week they should call her if they need help with anything. She’s literally the only adult so far to do that. Aside from making me love her even more, it also leaves me wondering a bit why all the adults in town assume a bunch of thirteen-year-old girls can basically run a summer daycare program.
On Sunday morning (Chapter 6), Kristy is unimpressed to be woken early by her mother. It’s her last day to sleep in until AFTER the wedding. Her mother is unimpressed by that argument, because they have to cook dinner for the two sets of aunts and uncles, and Nannie (Elizabeth’s mother) is arriving to measure Kristy again. Just reading this brings that familiar half-excitement half-dread of planning a big event. Ugh.
Nannie arrives in a pink secondhand car she’s named The Pink Clinker. I love her already.
Nannie and Elizabeth discuss hors d’oeuvres while Kristy and her brothers clean the house and polish the furniture. It’s not that I enjoy discussing wedding food, but boy, the kids got the worst of this deal.
Then Aunt Theo and Uncle Neal and their kids show up:
Uncle Neal was just getting out of the car. He is not my favorite relative. His pants and shirt never match, he smokes cigars, and he talks too loudly. But he’s really okay. At least he never says to me, “My, Kristy, how you’ve grown. What grade are you in now?”
That’s Aunt Theo’s department. She stepped lightly out of the car and began hugging everyone. The second she got to me, she said, “My, Kristy, how you’ve grown. What grade are you in now?”
“I’ll be in eighth,” I replied, and thought, And I have not grown. I’m the shortest person in my grade.
Yes, Kristy, you will be in eighth grade. You’ll be in eighth grade FOREVER. And maybe if you were less judge-y about your poor aunt, that wouldn’t have happened. Maybe she’s a fairy godmother or a witch or something, and that bit of undeserved judginess right there is why you and your friends all stop aging. I bet you never thought of that, huh?
Beth, the one-year-old, lets Kristy pick her up out of her car seat (because Kristy has the good sense to sit quietly near her for a moment first to let her acclimatize), and Aunt Theo is amazed because Beth usually cries when strangers try to pick her up. Remind me again why these adults thought showing up with a handful of kids, one of whom doesn’t tolerate strangers well, would be a HELP in the week before a large wedding?
The next car arrives with Aunt Colleen and Uncle Wallace. Kristy likes this aunt, describing her as a younger version of Nannie. They have a carsick three-year-old and a nine-year-old with a broken leg (and two other kids), and this all sounds hilariously awful. I wonder how many people read these books and decided never to reproduce? [Wing: Well, I read these books and I am not reproducing, but I’ve never drawn a line from one to the other — until now.]
After the presents, we ate supper on picnic tables in the backyard.
Here’s what happened during the meal:
Beth stored up a cheekful of carrots as her father fed her, then spit them all over his shirt.
Peter and Grace got into a fight and began to cry.
Berk and David Michael got into a fight and began to cry.
Emma teased Ashley. Ashley whacked Emma with her crutch. Emma cried. Ashley was sent to the Millers’ car and Emma was sent to the Meiners’ car until they were ready to apologize to each other.
Luke did not say one word from the beginning of the meal to the end.
Even Kristy is beginning to feel apprehensive about the coming week. Adult-me can see that this chaos is fairly typical and not even all that bad, but when I was Kristy’s age I would have locked myself in my room until the wedding was over and these people had all gone home.
Chapter 7 is crunch time. Hell Week has begun, folks.
Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, and Claudia showed up at my house at eight-thirty sharp. Stacey brought her Kid-Kit, a box of games and toys she sometimes takes on baby-sitting jobs (we each have one); Dawn brought a big book of rhymes, songs, games, and activities for children; Mary Anne brought the club record book and notebook; and Claudia brought the nametags and some art supplies.
“Let’s put on our own tags before we forget them,” I said. “Then we better get organized.”
Kristy. Honey. It is physically impossible to be any more organized than you girls already are. Just breathe.
Aunt Colleen shows up with the first four kids (her own, I mean), and some complex instructions: nap time for Peter and Grace, allergy medication for Berk, painkillers for Ashley. Again I have to ask: on what planet could anyone have EVER thought that showing up a week before the wedding with these kids would be helpful? Aunt Theo shows up next, with three more kids, one of whom needs two naps and dairy-free formula (because she’s allergic to milk).
Next Andrew, Karen, and the Fielding kids (Watson’s friend’s kids, whom none of the BSC have ever met) arrive. Karen is already talking about Morbidda Destiny, so no adult has yet seen the problems inherent in letting her make up stories about elderly neighbours, I guess.
The Fielding children are all so shy they have to be physically pried off their parents, and the baby cries as soon as he’s set down in the playpen. The mother looks “flustered” when he cries and says she’ll just leave him there and “he’ll stop crying after a while.” Why are all the adults in the BSCverse so useless?
The adults walked around to the front of the house and piled into their cars.
Katherine, Patrick, Maura, Tony, Beth, and Peter all began to cry. Andrew took stock of the situation and began to cry, too.
I am honestly breaking out in hives here and I’m just reading about taking care of these kids, not doing it.
But the BSC just divide kids into groups, nametag them all, and start reading/walking babies around in a stroller/doing crafts, and order is quickly restored.
The otherwise incompetent adults have packed individual lunches for their children (only because Kristy’s mom told them too, though), so that part goes well. Then five of them go down for naps on a blanket on the floor of Kristy’s livingroom, and I am in awe. I didn’t stop bragging for DAYS the first time I got my kids to nap at the same time, and I only have two.
Nannie shows up to briefly steal Kristy and Karen to go choose wedding flowers and decide how to wear their hair, a decision I would have thought the adults could just manage on their own without input from children, but what do I know.
Chapter 8 starts with a handwritten notebook entry from Dawn, and I just realized it’s the first one for this book. Huh. Dawn has been having a rough second day, because her group has Karen in it. Dawn takes Karen, David Michael, and Berk to the playground. Actually, first I need to quote from the notebook entry, because once again: this sounds easily as good as the day camps I have spent money on (and believe me, it was more than “$600 for fourteen kids” per week. It was more like $200 per child per eight days).
So after the parents left, Mary Anne took the babies for a walk. Stacey took the red group to the brook to catch minnows, Kristy and Claudia walked their groups to the public library for story hour, and I took David Michael, Berk, and Karen to the school playground (where there’s an arts and crafts contest going on).
The details involved in this (remembering to wrap Ashley’s cast in a plastic bag, for instance, or packing pull-ups and snacks for the library groups) are completely realistic, and again: when I was the same age as the BSC I would have been completely unqualified to manage this. And that’s without factoring in Karen Brewer.
Karen convinces the other kids in her group that a big kid in eighth grade told her that at seven o’clock that night, an army of Martians was going to attack the Earth. Dawn tries to tell them it’s not true, but Karen insists it’s true and that only the kids who believe will be safe because they can hide. They discuss this all the way to the playground, in spite of Dawn’s best efforts, and then they manage to spread it the rest of the children at the playground. Panic breaks out, and Dawn has to apologize to the playground counselor and take Karen home immediately. [Dove: I’m so conflicted. On the one hand, I think Karen’s awesome, especially because she managed to convince a thirteen year-old to be terrified. On the other hand, I do want her to shut up and behave.]
On the way home she gives them a serious talk about scaring other children, and Karen promises not to mention the Martians again. I have been a parent for too long, because I would have IMMEDIATELY made her promise not to scare them about anything else either. Ha. For once in my life I am ahead of the BSC on something. It’s only because parenting has left me suspicious and unable to trust anyone under the age of thirty.
Kristy ends the chapter worrying about what she can give her mother and Watson. Wedding presents have started to arrive, so she feels she should get them something, but what do you get a millionaire? Oh, Kristy, you’re adorable.
Chapter 9 starts with a handwritten Stacey notebook entry, which I’m also going to quote, because it’s hilarious:
I know you think I’m so sophisticated, since I’m from New York and my hair is permed and everything, but no kidding, my favorite movie is “Mary Poppins.”
To really appreciate that sentence you need to see it in Stacey’s so-not-sophisticated handwriting, with the little hearts dotting the “i”s.
Bless the BSC. They’ve even worked out that downstairs bathroom in Kristy’s house is reserved for the yellow, green, and pink groups, because they’re the youngest kids; the blue and red groups, and the BSC themselves, can use the upstairs one.
On Wednesday afternoon Stacey takes the red group to see a special showing of Mary Poppins (she’s gotten permission and money from the parents of her group). Nannie is taking Kristy shoe shopping at the same time, so they’re dropping Stacey and her kids off and then picking them up again.
Only the adults have given the money to the children, because every adult in this book is ridiculous. So Emma loses hers and Stacey phones Kirsty’s house and wakes the napping babies, and Mary Anne looks everywhere but can’t find the money, and it turns out to be in Emma’s shoe.
Stacey has more sense than these children’s actual parents, so she collects the money from the kids and puts herself in charge of buying the tickets and snacks.
Then they go into the move late, and an usher has to help them find four seats together with one on the aisle for Ashley (because of her leg), and I legitimately don’t know how any of the BSC cope with this level of constant low-key chaos. It’s exactly like parenting but WORSE, because the children’s actual parents make silly decisions that the BSC have to compensate for, and also? The BSC are all thirteen year olds.
Near the end of the movie Emma accidentally drops her junior mints over the railing and onto someone below, and the three kids start giggling, and an usher makes them leave.
The usher ushered them outside.
Stacey stood on the sidewalk, her cheeks flaming, and was never so relieved as when she saw the Pink Clinker cruising down the street.
Aw, Stacey. I feel for you. No one is sophisticated enough to cope with having their favorite movie spoiled and getting thrown out of a theatre. (And Stacey at least laughs about it on the way home, so she shakes off the embarrassment quickly).
Chapter 10 is Thursday! Only two days left until this nightmare ends!
With two days left before the wedding, the parents have gotten even more ludicrous in their demands.
Since the barber is only open from 9:00 until 5:00, guess what they asked us poor, defenseless, unprepared baby-sitters to do? They asked us to take Luke, David Michael, Berk, Andrew, Peter, and Patrick to poor, defenseless, unprepared Mr. Gates, whose barbershop is just around the corner from the elementary school.
That is… don’t even have words for what that is. Taking a single child to get a haircut is horrendous enough; asking thirteen-year-old girls to take six of them is cruel and unusual. What exactly are these parents doing, anyway? Are we supposed to accept that they’re making hors d’oeuvres for the fourth day in a row now, and that this is so vitally important none of them could spare an hour for their own children?
I think they’re all at a bar somewhere.
Kristy volunteers herself for this haircut trip, since she’s been to the barber with David Michael before and also since she’s related to most of the boys, but she wants back up, so Mary Anne bravely offers to go with her.
When they announce it’s time to go, three of the boys start yelling “no, no, no” and the other three climb a tree. Kristy threatens to call Nannie, which makes them briefly behave (because “she expects kids to do what they’re told,” which is honestly half the battle). Luke and David Michael are first up for haircuts, and they act like little horrors until Kristy threatens them again.
“Excuse me a sec, Mr. Gates,” I said. I stepped between the chairs and said to the boys, “You two are being plain rude. Who taught you to speak this way to adults? I can’t believe it. I want you to know that I am now walking over to that phone and calling Nannie. I guess I just can’t take care of you guys after all. My friends and I tried to make things fun for you, but you’re too much to handle. I’ll have to turn the job over to Nannie.”
“No, Kristy! Please don’t!” David Michael cried. “We’ll be good. All of us. I promise.” He turned to his cousin. “She means it, Luke. She’s my sister. I know her.”
Oh, Kristy. My local school system could use about a dozen of you, and a few copies of Nannie as well.
The rest of the trip goes smoothly, although Kristy’s still struggling to come up with an idea for a gift for her mother and Watson.
On Friday it rains, because of course it does. So now they’re trapped IN THE HOUSE with fourteen children, and none of the BSC are old enough to drink so it’s pretty terrible. The kids watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in the morning, and then Claudia has a brilliant idea after lunch (just as they’re all starting to whine and squabble). She suggests they let the kids put on a wedding. So they do that, and it’s cute, and Kristy takes photos with her mom’s Polaroid (wait, does she really take photos or just pretend to? Because film for those things used to be expensive). The vows are awesome:
“Okay then. Karen, do you promise to love your husband and help him out and not hog the television?”
“I guess so,” said Karen.
“Okay. And David Michael, do you promise to love your wife and help her out and show her how to ride a two-wheeler?”
(I just realized that somewhere out there Karen/David Michael step-sibcest fic probably exists, and now I need to take a break and go have a drink or three.) [Wing: Ho. Ly. Shit. It probably does. I know other step-sibcest fic exists in the series, though I’m holding off on naming characters so I don’t spoil Dove.] [Dove: I appreciate that. And the fact you organised my wedding.]
Chapter 12 is the rehearsal dinner. My first marriage was shorter than this recap, I swear to God. Anyway, the kids go off in their groups so the BSC can help them change.
My first clue that anything was wrong was when I opened Andrew’s bag and pulled out a yellow dress. “Oops,” I said. “Wrong bag. Katherine, this must be yours. Or yours, Grace.”
“Not mine,” said Katherine.
“Not mine,” said Grace. I checked the bag again. Sure enough, it was labelled ANDREW.
It turns out that Emma switched around the clothes. Kristy, who is under enormous stress for a thirteen-year-old, is worried about how it will look to the parents when they screw up the final hour of their biggest job ever. Oh, honey, the parents are probably all too drunk to even notice. She makes Emma have a time out to think about what she did (I’d have cut my losses and sold Emma on eBay at this point [Dove: They put a stop to that. You’d do better on craiglist.]), and it takes the BSC half an hour to sort out the clothes.
The parents are late anyway because they’re irresponsible fuckwits, so Kristy lines up all the neatly dressed-up children on the couch and snaps a couple of pictures. [Dove: I think you’re right about the parents being drunk, because I loved the vague comments of, “Why’s our kid wearing tights?” but no action is taken.]
The rehearsal goes well except for some obligatory Karen, who claims Morbidda Destiny’s black magic will collide with the white magic of the rose petals she’s scattering (don’t ask) and cause an explosion. Her story makes David Michael scream and startle the minister.
After the rehearsal dinner Kristy shows the BSC around the house. They’re impressed with her huge new bedroom, but Mary Anne’s a little sad, because it hits her that they won’t be looking into each other’s windows anymore. Sniffle.
Finally, finally, the big day is here: Chapter 13. I mean the wedding.
Kristy calls Mary Anne over, via their windows, to help her get dressed, and I cried a little. I’m heartily disgusted with myself, but this is hitting me harder than I would have thought possible. It’s the end of an era, you guys.
At Watson’s place Kristy and her mother and Karen are hidden away in a spare room, because Elizabeth and Watson are being careful not to see each other. Andrew shows up, tie and shoes untied, needing help to get dressed, and Kristy helps him.
All the guests have arrived, so they go downstairs and out into the garden.
It all would have been perfect if not for the sight of Morbidda Destiny’s house beyond.
Ugh, Kristy. Stop it.
Maybe it’s because there’s such a huge emphasis on anti-bullying programs in our local schools (with mixed results, but I’d say generally the children I know are making an effort to be kind), but it’s astounding to me that a) someone as sensible as Kristy would be going along with this and b) no adult has pointed out how mean it is. Or, I don’t know, maybe not b since none of the adults seem terribly practical. But surely someone else in the BSC would pipe up about the stereotyping of elderly women as witches?
It’s Kristy’s turn to walk down the aisle.
I tried to smile, especially when I spotted Mary Anne and Claudia, but my mouth trembled as if I were going to cry.
Karen spots “Morbidda Destiny” and shrieks out loud, but it’s at the moment Elizabeth and Watson kiss so the shriek is kind of lost in the general noise of people standing up and congratulating them. But then it gets worse, because everything is worse with Karen.
Morbidda Destiny looked at Karen, puzzled. Then she turned to me. “I brought the bride and groom something,” she said, holding out a box.
“Don’t take it!” Karen cried. “It’s a wedding spell! It’s a —“
A hand was clamped over Karen’s mouth. Watson had broken away from the celebrating.
“Why, thank you, Mrs. Porter,” he said, accepting the box with one hand, whle keeping his other hand over Karen’s mouth. “That’s very nice of you. Won’t you join the guests for some refreshm— Ow!”
Karen had tried to bite her father’s hand. “Daddy —“
I pulled Karen away. Watson regained his composure, and Mrs. Porter did stay at the party for a while. (Karen ran in the house and wouldn’t come out until she was gone.)
That entire scene is astonishing to me. Watson has just enough common sense to temporarily shut the child up, but not enough to remove her from the party until she can be respectful to their neighbor. Kristy has to remove the kid. Also, if she lives next door and they’re holding a wedding on the lawn, shouldn’t Mrs. Porter have been invited anyway?
Also, is anyone else dying to know what was in the box? [Dove: Marcellus Wallace’s soul.]
Kristy watches Elizabeth and Watson cut the cake together, and suddenly knows what to give them. [Dove: When I read this, my thought was: you’re a bit late, love. Or is it normal for family members to give gifts after the honeymoon? The only weddings I’ve been to had gifts/money given on the day.]
Chapter 14 begins with the dispersal of the children. Someone even shows up to take Karen and Andrew to their mother, which must come as an enormous relief.
Elizabeth and Watson ALSO leave, to go on their honeymoon in “a little inn in Vermont,” so Kristy and her brothers are on their own (at their own house, not the mansion) for a week, with Nannie on standby in case they need anything.
Kristy works on her present for them, and David Michael drops by her room to announce that he’s giving them goldfish.
The next day she goes to Claudia’s house for consultation and art supplies. I love how these girls are all aware of each other’s strengths. Stacey, Dawn, and Mary Anne show up with wedding pictures. Kristy shows them her drawing, which is a sort of family tree showing how their two families have joined together to become one new family. Oh, my heart. And Stacey says she and her mother to take Kristy to the store to have it framed. [Dove: Damn, my ebook didn’t have that picature.]
I feel like I complained A LOT in this recap, which is odd, because it’s one of the most fun entries in the BSC series. It’s one of the books a lot of people have fond memories of, mostly because of the well-managed chaos of actually running a day camp. It also drives home the sheer awesomeness of the BSC and their ability to organize stuff.
But as always, the little details are incredibly realistic, and so the net result is that it could flip you right from an indecisive “I don’t know if I want children” to basically tying your own tubes with dental floss or something.
I said “aww, Kristy” more times during this recap than you’d think possible. The moments when she’s aware of the impending move, and that she won’t be next door to Mary Anne anymore, were achingly believable.
[Wing: It’s both a ridiculous book because of the unbelievable setup and also a fun book because of the adventures and organisation and chaos and friendships and siblings — it’s really great and emotional, even when some of them are acting like pod people. Despite not liking weddings or kids all that much (or Kristy, for that matter), this was one of my favourite books when I was a young!Wing. Also, they left the family tree out of the updated ebook, which was disappointing.]
[Dove: I think I like it best when they’re surrounded by chaos. Regular babysitting jobs aren’t as much fun as when it’s all going wrong. I really liked the one where Kristy wasn’t talking to Mary-Anne and they turned it into a game. BRING ON THE CHAOS. Can we have more books like this, where the BSC are absolutely overrun with kids?]