Wow, what an amazing weekend. It was a very different con for me this time because I took my daughter. But it was different in a good way. Early Saturday morning I got her going and did a mock ceremony where I placed my yearly Dragon Con lanyard around her neck (the one full of buttons and crap) and proclaimed her a member of the faithful Dragon Con Geekdom! I pulled out a backup lanyard for me. You gotta have a lanyard so your badge is visible to get into everything.
I don’t know if you are familiar with my Dragon Con history. Some friends took me to a rock concert that was happening at the con back in the 90s. As part of the concert ticket, you were free to spend the day at the convention. It was much smaller then, but quite fun. I liked it but I didn’t love it. I liked science fiction stuff even back then and was a devoted Star Trek watcher, but I didn’t feel inclined to buy a bunch of stuff just because I liked the show. And meeting actors is nice, but they’re actors. Not space travelers. At that time there were a few writers in attendance, but nobody I felt thrilled by. So it was nice, but I didn’t feel inclined to go again.
Then in the mid 2000s they added a Skeptics track and I learned there were also Science and Space tracks. I’d always wanted to go to TAM (James Randis The Amazing Meeting for science and skepticism in Vegas every year) but couldn’t justify the cost. But here was a mini skeptic’s convention in the middle of Dragon Con. So I’ve been going off and on for the last six or seven years and it’s been great. In that time the attendance has ballooned as geeks and their interests have gone more mainstream. I have also gotten more into science fiction and now fantasy and my daughter has grown up loving superheroes, Mythbusters and the like.
I think it’s terrible to take young kids to something like this before they’re ready and this was the first year I was convinced she would be able to stand the heat of the parade, handle all the walking around, and get something out of it more than just “Hey, look at that cool Batman!” I was proved right in this by three horribly hot, whining pouty little kids that sat near us during the parade. They wanted to see it but the wait and the heat were just too much for them and while they enjoyed the costumes, it really wasn’t worth it for that mom I don’t think.
It actually went better for us than I had imagined. She had a constant beatific smile of delight all weekend long. Yes she got too hot at the parade and yes we had to take breaks and her feet got sore but she didn’t whine one bit. These are things with going to any big event or theme park or whatever. I think I may have actually bitched about the heat more than she did. These were all mere inconveniences to the awesome that is Dragon Con for her.
Now the bad thing about a wonderful and diverse con is that there are always three things at any given time that you would like to see but you have to make choices. I decided early on that while I’d try to get her to go to a few of “my” science-y things, that this was HER con and she would always have veto power because I didn’t want to be dragging her to things I thought she would like. I wanted her to decide. This means, of course, that I didn’t see nearly as much of the science and space and skeptic tracks that I would normally attend and ended up in long lines for bigger named things, but that was fine.
We saw Grant Imahara from Mythbusters give a talk. We saw the actresses that played Luna Lovegood and Pansy Parkington form the Harry Potter movies. We saw the parade. We saw a talk from NASA/JPL scientists on the Cassini space probe which is in orbit around Saturn. We visited the solar telescopes they had set up at the HIlton. We visited the vendors more than I normally would have. We ate the best worst food whenever we felt like it: hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, soft drinks, lemonade, candy. It was awesome.
And we followed around and took lots of pictures of people dressed in costumes. She probably could have just done that all day. It really brought her out of her shell, too. There was a point on Sunday where I volunteered us to man the CosmoQuest booth for an hour. She liked it, but there were too many cool cosplayers for her to sit still so I let her roam the Hilton. She was down in the lobby snagging grownups for shots, “Hey, Star Lord! Smile!” “Hey Nick Fury! Great outfit, can I get a picture?” “That’s a beautiful Elsa dress! How about a photo?” It was neat to see her like that.
At the end she bought some little gifts for her friends and I noticed they had official Dragon Con lanyards. “So you seemed to have fun this weekend,” I said. “Think you might want to go again next year?” A definite “OF COURSE!” So I bought her her own official lanyard. She came home and immediately started decorating it with Totoro and Harry Potter buttons.
But the coolest one, I think, is the NASA pin one of the Saturn probe scientists gave her. That one rocks.
I might have to break down and actually try to get a hotel room at the con for the first time next year!