Not What I Expected, But I Probably Should Have...

Last year we went to CodeMash for the first time, which is a conference for developers, but also has a bunch of activities for families, which they call Kidzmash. I remember being really surprised and delighted because so much of what is called STEM for young children is poorly done. The main thing Laurel remembers was making a robot that colored. She wired it up and everything. Very cool. The conference also has the benefit of taking place in the country's largest indoor water park. A bunch of people from M's office go, and some of them were presenting, so of course we thought we should go again....despite the fact that we had just welcomed Baby Max 4 weeks before and have not exactly worked out all the logistics of managing our family yet.

Sometimes we have good ideas. And sometimes we have good ideas that end up not being that fun when we do them, but they have that element of "2nd degree fun" - miserable now, but it makes a great story, or we'll laugh about it one day. Great childhoods are dependent on lots of 2nd degree fun.

And sometimes we just have terrible ideas. This was pretty much in that category.

After we arrived home and I was giving Marko a bath, I asked him what his favorite part was. He said getting candy from the vendors. There was a 12,000 square foot wave pool and a van de Graaff generator, but he liked getting the mini packet of M&Ms from the guys at the IBM table. We never even really made it to any of the formal sessions for the kids because just getting all of us to the bathroom was practically an hour long process. I didn't get a chance to ask Laurel what her favorite part was because she went to bed immediately, saying she had a headache. My guess is that she probably liked the candy the best too.

Live and learn, though. I'd rather try stuff and have it not work out perfectly than never go anywhere with the kids.

I wanted to blog about Kidzmash, but I don't have much to say except that the Open Hangoutz room was spectacularly equipped with toys, games and art supplies, and Marko and Laurel played with other kids and learned some very cool new games. Marko liked Gobblet Gobblers in particular. Laurel dug into the art supplies and immediately started crafting all sorts of interesting things. She totally gets the whole "Make It" movement, although she seems to be driven more towards artistic creativity than engineering creativity. Of course, the stack of empty boxes from the conference t-shirts proved to be the one thing that all the kids liked playing with the most. We did not get to make a flashlight or play robot laser tag or use the Snap Circuits. Perhaps next year.

Instead, I'll tell you about the parenting lessons learned. It was a humbling three days.

I should have borrowed a double stroller. I usually think of Marko as way too old for a stroller. And last weekend he walked almost five miles right along side us. But if I had brought one with me, he would have taken a few cat naps on the go, which is what he really needed. Last year he was 1-almost-2 instead of 2-almost 3 and that's a big difference. He probably weighed about 22 pounds and I carried him on my back in the Ergo, leaving my hands free to help Laurel with the activities, which is why she got to do so many cool things. This year, I ran out of hands and he had no place to sleep. I am totally shopping for a double stroller on Craigslist right now.

White noise is magical. This should not surprise me, but the white noise app put a fussy Max to sleep in the middle of a chaotic hotel room. Wish it still worked on the big kids.

Don't try to make it epic. Because last year was so amazing, we had high expectations. On Thursday, we left our hotel for the conference center right after breakfast, with plans to stay there until the big Family Dinner which was starting at 6:00pm. Disastrous. By 10:30, I was losing my mind. I actually wrote my phone number ON MY CHILDRENS' BODIES because I was worried I would lose them. There was no place I could sit and nurse Max while watching both Marko and Laurel play. There were thousands of people everywhere, and it was way too noisy and overwhelming for the kids. They needed some quiet in between the activities. I ended up taking them back to the hotel for a couple of hours to chill out in our room. We should have picked one conference activity and one waterpark activity each day, and that would have been more than enough. Should have kept it simple.

Car seats are clearly engineered by the Devil himself. We have a midsize SUV. You should be able to fit 3 kids in the back. Why are car seats so wide? Why are the latch hooks designed for installation of only 2 car seats? Why do the little seat belt clicky things fall down into the abyss? Who put a banana peel underneath the car seat??? After much YouTube research and experimentation, I finally found a way to safely install our seats, but it is a long and involved process each and every time.

Six year olds still have a lot of needs. I suppose all humans have a lot of needs....they just change over time.  Laurel is extremely outgoing and self-sufficient, so it's easy to backburner her when Max is crying or Marko is suddenly naked for no clear reason. Recognizing her changing needs has probably been the biggest adjustment for us lately but we're working on it.

If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Put your own oxygen mask on first. Otherwise, the whole family is doomed.

Remain united. We may be technically outnumbered by children now, but M and I are smarter, more experienced and have the money and the car keys. It's all good as long as we work as a team.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a crazy suggestion but the next time you might call on Great Aunts (retired or close to)and see if they would have any interest in joining you to help!! ;-)
Love, Aunt DC