I have been the mom voted mostly likely to say yes by my youngest daughter and her friends. It’s not that I’m a pushover, but when I tell them, “I’ll think about it,” I do actually think about it.
I’m referring mostly to the anime conventions in which I seem to be the permanently installed chaperone (anime is Japanese style cartoons; the conventions are events where people dress up as characters in the cartoon). Sure, there are other moms who rotate through these conventions, but I am at all of them. I think it is partly because when I am chaperoning, I make sure no one gets too hungry or dehydrated on my watch.
I bring what I fondly refer to as “the snack trough,” which is a large rolling suitcase full of nutritious food and water for lunch and snacks. Then I sit back and wait for “drive-by eatings.” The kids show up, insist they aren’t hungry, I insist they eat something and before they know it, they realize they are famished and wolf down the food. I have perfected the “snack trough” over the years of conventions.
When my daughter was recovering from having her wisdom teeth pulled during spring break last April, she chose that quiet time with me to ask if I would take her and her friends to a newly discovered convention in Vancouver, WA over Labor Day weekend. Since I like to make a big deal out of my kids’ 16th birthdays, I had the brilliant idea of making it her 16th birthday party with her friends. So I booked the hotel.
Then I had the logistics to figure out. My car isn’t big enough to carry more than five people and we had six, including me. I began to call other parents to help transport them. The first mom I called was willing, although I kind of felt she was railroaded by her daughter.
Since the occasion was to mark my daughter’s 16th birthday, I really wanted to have a little dinner party for her one evening. I had no space to pack dinner food in the cars and no way to cook anything. My sister, who lives in that area, saved me. She and her roommate planned a hot dinner and cake for the girls and brought it to the hotel, in which we used their breakfast room for the event.
As with many events in my life, I agree to them so far in advance, it doesn’t occur to me the time will actually arrive. With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, it hadn’t sunk in that it was actually going to happen until the Thursday before we were supposed to leave.
I asked myself what I had gotten myself into. It wasn’t the drive, it wasn’t the event, but I had agreed to chaperone five teenage girls to an anime convention in a different city by myself. The other mom dropped us off and headed off to the coast.
They are good kids, so I wasn’t worried about them being out of control, but still, what was I thinking? The moment they saw the first person dressed in costume, they began to squeal.
After the dinner party the first evening, the girls discovered the pool at the hotel. I heard one of them say, “This is the most fun I’ve had all day!” Really? The most fun all day? I knew she didn’t mean it the way it sounded; it was just culminating joy of the whole day.
The weekend was a huge success and all the girls were very grateful. I mentioned to them that soon they would be old enough to go without me. They unanimously agreed to always bring me along. After all, someone has to mom the snack trough.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She can be found momming the snack trough at an anime convention near you. You can read her column every week on covingtonreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or “like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.