I see three courses of action here:
- Downplay it: "Oh, it's nothing! It'll feel like a little pinch."
- Exaggerate it: "It's going to feel like you left your arm on a hot stove for several minutes."
- Level with the child: "It will sting a little and will feel a little strange for about a minute, but you'll be OK."
Why? Well, it's mainly a process of elimination choice. If I go with A, and my child is particularly sensitive to pain (something that is hard to gauge when dealing with someone else's nerve endings), the child will be (rightfully) annoyed with me for misleading them. If I go with B, the child will likely panic for the remainder of the drive; their relief when the blood is actually drawn (if the blood ever gets drawn) will be nice, but likely small satisfaction. A prolonged reliance on B-like strategies will also presumably cause psychological traumatization (from here).
B, on the other hand, offers fair expectations to the child. They will be nervous, and I may be forced to offer additional reassurance, but they now know what to expect.
People act on expectations all the time. If they expect that new flat screen TV to drop in price for the holidays, they may postpone their purchase for another month. If they expect to get a raise, they may start spending a bit more money in advance. If they expect to have to skip lunch, they may eat a larger breakfast, or may pack a Nutri-Grain bar for the road.
Like most things, weddings are about expectations. Everyone who heard that Katherine and I got engaged had some expectations about what the wedding will actually look like. Likewise, everyone who gets an invitation will, for at least a moment or two, create a picture--or, rather, a mental model--of how the wedding will look.
(This is another one of those principles for me. Back when I was in an educational psychology class, we talked a bit about mental models in learning. One of the jobs of a teacher is to help students draw accurate, understandable mental models of reality; the mental model of the solar system for a third grader will inevitably be less sophisticated than the mental model for an astronomer, but both models need to depict the abstract concept in a concrete way in order to be effective. I see the wedding the same way.)
Mismatched expectations lead to conflict, fights, divorce, miscommunication, wars, and all manners of other problems. Take weddings. If John likes to drink, and assumes that weddings will have alcohol, but sees no alcohol when he arrives, John will be angry. If, however, John has been informed in advance of the dryness of the wedding, John will adjust his expectations accordingly (or wisely send a small gift and skip the affair altogether).
I anticipate that the most controversial aspect of the wedding will be the choice of food. We have made two potentially-unpopular decisions:
- We will not be serving a full meal; the menu calls for a variety of hors d'oeuvres and other light fare.
- We will not be serving a traditional wedding cake, having decided that pies are better, and more interesting, than cake.
I see a few different ways to do this:
- Strategic leaking: We can leak to select potential (chatty) wedding guests that the menu will be mostly hors d'oeuvres, and that we are serving pies, rather than cake.
- Publicly-available website: We can direct people on the invitations to this blog or our wedding website, which will have the full menu available to readers, well-wishers, and guests.
- Invitation enclosures: We can include a copy of the menu in the wedding invitation.
- Caveat emptor: We can do nothing, and conduct a small social experiment.
Going with only Option B requires a good bit of additional work from the guests. Most people will not visit a website that they receive on a piece of snail mail. People are busy, and have far more important things to worry about than our wedding. (As my mother would say, it's probably not in "their top two.") By the time they start thinking about the wedding, it is quite possible that the invitation was lost, or that the information was written elsewhere.
I personally am leaning towards Option C, likely in combination with B. It is the most direct and transparent way to circulate the information that I want to circulate. It also, I think, gives people a chance to look inside the process a bit, and to feel involved.
In another context, Option D could be fun. But I would like to get the marriage off on the right foot. There are thousands of potential flashpoints in this sort of social interaction; as the logistics guy here, my goal is to minimize them.
So, as of now, I am in favor of including the full menu along with our invitations, preferably on some sort of ceremonial stationery, along with posting it on the website. Katherine agrees, but we're still trying to figure out a way to word it and make it look classy. Any ideas?