As I write this I am chaperoning my daughters and several of their friends at an anime convention in the Bellevue Hilton Hotel. Anime is Japanese cartoons, movies, and drawings, but also includes any “cult” favorite character(I saw Where’s Waldo, the miner in Toy Story 2, a cheerleader from Glee and the phone booth in Dr. Who). Part of the fun of attending such a convention is cos-play, which is dressing up as a favorite character; the costumes range from simple to elaborate.
When my youngest daughter came to me several months ago and asked if I would do this, I agreed to be the chaperone mom. Sometimes when I agree to things, it’s so far in the future, I don’t really think it will actually happen.
The week before the event, the gravity of what I agreed to started to weigh on me. My hope was I wouldn’t actually have to follow them around now that they are all thirteen or older. We had three day passes and I just resigned myself to spending the whole weekend at the event, while secretly hoping they’d be too tired to go on Sunday (evil plan).
The first day was Friday. I took both my daughters after school to go check out the venue and find out the rules for minor children. I was elated when they told me an adult just had to be in the building, but didn’t have to follow the kids around. I was even more excited when the hotel not only had a Tully’s coffee shop, but nice comfy seats for me to hang out in, internet access for a decent price, and an outlet by the chair of my choice to charge my laptop. How often does a stay-at-home mom just get to sit and do what she wants to do?
We only stayed for a couple hours Friday night. There wasn’t much for them to do that night as the convention was just winding up. I was looking forward to my Saturday with nothing to do but write and read. I had charge of six girls, who are good kids; I didn’t expect any problems.
I didn’t have problems with the kids. But I wasn’t exactly doing nothing. I experienced “drive by eatings,” meaning when they were hungry and thirsty they came to me. The kids were supposed to bring money to buy their own food. By 11:00am, half of them had spent all their money on souvenirs, which piled up next to me to watch.
I bought them pizza for lunch (you should have seen the look on the delivery guy’s face when he walked into the hotel and got a look at the guests). My cousin, who lives in
Bellevue, came to sit and visit with me for awhile. He ended up as my “stuff sitter.” I had to run out to the car twice to get bottles of water for the kids. I couldn’t trust the kids to watch the stuff because every time they saw a character they loved, they’d run off squealing, racing to snap a picture. After lunch and a second round of snacks, I did get some writing and reading done.
Kids always get worn out sooner than they think (part of my evil plan). The day started with the kids insisting they’d be leaving at 10:30 p.m., then it changed to 9:00pm, and finally settled in at 7:30 p.m. It was rather amusing to watch them hobble outside in their costumes with their aching feet and plop down on the bench to wait for our ride, all the while complaining how exhausted they were (another part of my evil plan).
As I watched them commiserating with each other over their pain, my evil plan not to return on Sunday was almost realized. But here we are; here I am writing this column in a comfy chair next to the coffee shop in the hotel lobby. The whole evil plan deteriorated on the drive home last night.
But even as I resigned myself to another day at this convention, part of me was looking forward to again having nothing to do but read and write. I only have three teens with me today. I brought lunch for us, so even “drive by eatings” will not unroot me. It’s not often I have this much time to myself. I guess I have something to look forward to next year.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.