We got them dressed.
We didn’t tell them where we were going.
Or what we would find when we got there…
I think somehow they knew we weren’t just going on the normal trip to Disneyland or to the grandparent’s house. Maybe it was the extra bags we packed, the fact that daddy was up at 5am pushing US out of bed to get ready for once, or the fact that we were all wearing “matching” clothes, but somehow, their Jedi senses were tingling and they both knew something was up. We weren’t just going to “the park” and we weren’t just going to visit friends and no, Nana and Papa would not be there…
This was a whole new experience about to happen – for all of us.
Our first family trip to a convention.
Some say you should wait on things like this. That a convention isn’t the place for kids… that there is nothing for them to do. They’ll get bored, irritated, annoying and loud. They only annoy SERIOUS convention goers and cause problems in the halls.
Some say, once things like video games, movies with superheroes, magical creatures, aliens and sophisticated interlocking brick systems reach “hobby” status, they are no longer *really* designed for children and parents should know better than to subject a serious crowd of fans to an uncontrollable toddler.
I mean, of course, there’s NOTHING for them to do in a place like this, right? They would just walk around completely bored with nothing interesting to do or look at.
There are some who say conventions are inappropriate for children under 18 and others who say the whole affair is just plain ‘of the Devil’. That the convention environments inspire evil and sin and a path that leads to damnation.
Those concerned folks encourage parents to keep their tender, innocent babes away from events like this, calling them “dens of evil” and “gateways to sin”. They accuse anyone who indulges in this horrible pastime of willfully condemning young minds to the Dark Side.
Okay, well… that last one… yeah, that might be true….
But here’s what we learned:
Parents- TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO CONVENTIONS. Seriously. Don’t be afraid. YES there are a billion people. Yes, you must take care of your children, watch them, hold their hands, be attentive, make sure they are properly fed, hydrated, rested, that they don’t break vendor’s items or mess with things that might get broken, but honestly- that’s your job ALL THE TIME.
These are once in a lifetime events. Even if you go more than once- each time you do, something new, amazing and rewarding can be taken away to teach them something special about the world around them, their own imaginations and even about you, too.
A convention can be an excellent learning experience for children of all ages. Ours being toddler age, the lessons included listening, following directions, stranger danger, not touching stuff on eye-level tables, playing games with other kids, sharing, knowing when things weren’t yours to play with, learning about different characters in the Star Wars universe, learning to be brave and willing to meet scary looking people, creatures and robots like Storm Troopers and Wookies, and so many other things like this guy…
There were tons of events and activities for older kids, too. Jedi Training Academy, art classes, video game previews, Droid classes, the list is endless.
Sure, there are the “child haters”. Yes, there are the heavy crowds full of people who glare at you because you have a stroller. Maybe even some who get the hallways confused with a library because they are trying to do something “serious” on their computer being charged at a random outlet and glare at your child who is running and laughing because it could quite possibly be the happiest day of his life thus far.
But those people should not and cannot break your spirit or your resolve that you made the right decision in taking them when you are holding the hand of a child who is experiencing the magic and wonder of an immersive experience with all their favorite things LITERALLY surrounding them.
Those people who just don’t get it and all the hardships of the day just fade away behind this smile…
Or this award-winning death scene…
And this heart-melting, precious moment with a pink Storm Trooper…
And this epic family photo…
Sure, it’s hard. It requires massive amounts of patience. They are going to act out. They are going to want to touch stuff they shouldn’t. They are going to get bored standing in lines. They will want to run. But… that’s every day, right? You can handle it. You may have to give up a few things, sacrifice a few “grown up” experiences like panels and movie previews and you may find yourself letting go of that undying NEED to buy that special, exclusive action figure, poster or tee shirt because the 4 year old doesn’t understand the value of those things compared to their need to pee.
It requires proper, prior planning to ensure all the snacks, water, extra clothes, bathroom trips, meltdowns and requirements for treats and souvenirs are all managed, accommodated for and handled appropriately. It’s all part of the package and it can be a super stressful day if you don’t have all the tools to make it the best day possible, but it’s all so all worth it when, at the end of the day, their heads are dreamy, full of amazing things they won’t soon forget and excited for new adventures with you tomorrow, in whatever galaxy you travel to.
I will be recapping our adventures at Star Wars Celebration 2015 in greater detail in the upcoming days. We saw SO MUCH there just is not time to fit it all into a single article, so stay tuned for more including;
Star Wars Celebration 2015; The Stuff (Things we wanted to buy and why it was awesome)
Star Wars Celebration 2015; The People (Costume groups and amazing individuals who made our experience fantastic)
Star Wars Celebration 2015; The Family Check List for Attending Conventions (What we learned and how we can do better next time)