Anime Banzai

I have a blogger’s dilemma. Yesterday I attended an anime convention with Kiki, Link, and assorted teenage friends. Conventions are always filled with tightly-packed events, a hundred small stories to tell. I want to record these stories, to tell the delightful details which demonstrate exactly how much fun my kids had at the event. The point of such an entry would be to hold the memories in words so that the event could be savored again. My problem is that their delights were not mine. Their best moments happened when I was not present. They came to me when they had problems, were bored, were worn out, or were hungry. My day consisted mostly of sitting in hallways, people watching, solving problems before they were problems, and being available. I want to tell a joyful story, but my day was interesting and full of useful service, not really full of joy.

The real problem with the convention was that I paid all the costs both in time and money, while the enjoyment was primarily theirs. This is one of the things that I do as a parent, almost without thinking about it. Most of the time their joy brings me joy. This time I’m having trouble with cost counting. All the things which got delayed so I could manage the convention for my kids are still waiting for me with increased urgency attached. I guess I have to consider it a learning experience. Next year I will not be involved in marathon last-minute sewing sessions. If kids want impressive costumes they’ll need to spend their own time, creativity, energy, and money. Next year they’ll need to pay some or all of the entrance fees themselves. These changes are not just for my benefit, but because I realized that by removing the effort from their event, I actually deprive them of important learning. They can not appreciate a hard-won prize if they never have to work. Compliments on a costume you made yourself carry much more joy than if your mother made the costume. This I think is the real source of my dissatisfaction. They had an event full of shiny excitement, but devoid of learning. It was all treats and nothing sustaining.

Fortunately for me I have wonderful and intelligent children. Both Kiki and Link thanked me multiple times for the help and support I gave. Their gratitude lasted into today when they both actively helped clean up the house. I think that they did learn things despite my efforts to remove effort from their day. In the end it was a good event for us all and while I intend to manage things a little differently next year, I still intend to support them in going.