After Worldcon

In my previous post about being at worldcon with kids , I made three points about the experience:

  • We were seeing very few programme items
  • Just hanging around in the convention centre with kids was fun
  • Handling kids while still trying to be a grown-up is very tiring.

I wrote that on the Friday evening, a day and a half into the con. By the time Monday came around, the whole “con experience” still revolved around those three items, but in a very different way:

  • Handling kids while still trying to be a grown-up is really, really tiring.
  • The number of of kid things to do at the convention centre was actually pretty limited, and we had exhausted them by Friday. The following days were spent going around the same things again and again, with the kids both getting progressively more bored and irritated. Alex spent some time in the YAFA (Young Adult Fun Activities) area, where they had some videogames to play, but (ironically, and annoyingly) it was the older kids who refused to share, and behaved like toddlers when something didn’t go their way.
  • I really did want to see more programme items. Thursday and Friday it all seemed like a lark, but the more the con went by, the more I felt irritated by having to miss out. Which led to increased frustration with the kids, which led to increased tiredness. By Monday afternoon, I was right up there with Alex whining that I just wanted to go home.

On balance, I enjoyed the long weekend away with Abi and the kids. It was fun staying in the hotel, eating junk food, swimming in the pool, and generally getting away from the everyday. But did I actually enjoy the con as a con? No, I don’t think I did. It was a fine con, but I’ll certainly be thinking twice about bringing the kids to the next one. (Which probably won’t be for a few years anyway.)

Abi had a much better time, mainly because she was more involved. She was exhibiting several of her bookbindings in the art show and auction, and she had designed and created special editions of the souvenir book for the Guests of Honour. She got to chat with Jane Yolen and Alan Lee, and even got a name-check and a round of applause at the closing ceremonies. That’s how cool my wife is.

As a final note, staying in Glasgow for a long weekend has given me an increased fondness for Edinburgh. The estimable Mr Scalzi commented on the fact that the con, and the con hotels, aren’t located in the best part of town. The motorways and main roads leading through the place don’t lead you past the wonderful architecture and bustling, atmospheric city centre, either.

Getting from one side of Glasgow to the other takes a long time. By comparison, and even in absolute terms, Edinburgh is a very small city. But that is part of its beauty: the fact that, from the right hilltop, you can take in the entire city in a single gaze. My bus to work takes me over one such hilltop every morning. On Tuesday morning, with my eyelids heavy from exhaustion, and the August sunlight blazing down on the Castle, and the sandstone buildings of the Old and the New Town, I could hardly conceive of a more beautiful sight.

Growing up in the Netherlands, part of my identity was always tied up with being from Scotland. When I returned to Scotland and went to univerity in St. Andrews, my heartstrings were always being tugged back to Limburg. We’ve lived here in Edinburgh for twelve years now, but it was only on Tuesday morning that I realized that this city really is my home.