Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicago: The Setup

If you’ve read Deus ex Comica, you know I consider the dad from Calvin and Hobbes my parenting role model. And this summer’s vacation was another opportunity to completely mess with the kiddo. Tracy and I made the decision to go to Wizard World Chicago this year because none of us have been to a comic book convention of that size, it was during the kiddo’s summer break, and the week before the kiddo’s birthday. We decided to extend the trip by coming into town early in order to take advantage of the city we love.

Along with having never been to a comic con of the Wizard World size, Tracy and I had never driven to Chicago and we’d never taken the kiddo with us to Chicago prior to this trip, so this was something new for all of us.

We didn’t tell the kiddo we were going on vacation or anything about the plans. I surreptitiously packed his bags the weekend before we were leaving, and on Tuesday morning we told him we would go out for a special family breakfast bef
ore dropping him at summer camp and heading to work. He ate a huge breakfast, hopped in the car, and we were off. He didn’t notice when we missed the exit for summer camp and soon fell asleep (full belly = sleepy). An hour or so later, he woke up and realized he wasn’t at summer camp yet. We told him to look on the seat beside him, and he found the Spider-Man messenger back we’d picked up for him. We then told him to find the kid’s atlas in the bag and figure out where we were.

On the drive, the kiddo made all kinds of wild guesses as to where we were going... some of the more amusing ones were Kansas, Iowa, Vegas, South Carolina and Florida. Clearly, we’ll be working on his map reading and orienteering skills.

Besides the kid’s atlas, we also packed some chapter books and a bunch of comic books. Three or four hours into the drive, the kiddo announced, “I finished reading all the comics.” I mused aloud to him, “I sure hope there’s someplace to get comics where we’re going...” Completely bummed out and in the dark about the convention in his future, the kiddo sadly responded with conviction, “I doubt it.” Tracy and I laughed about that exchange all week leading up to the con.

Eventually, the kiddo figured out we were in Chicago by the highway signs and was genuinely excited at the prospect of this seemingly spontaneous adventure. And five-and-a-half hours after leaving home, we walked into the lobby of the Embassy Suites in Rosemont, directly across from the convention center where the con would be held a few days later. The kiddo was bowled over by how “luxurious” it was. The main atrium area where breakfast is served is surrounded by plants and a water feature. The kiddo thought it was tropical and exotic.

We never told the kiddo what we were going to be doing each day, or how long we were staying in Chicago, or any details whatsoever. Tracy took to telling him we were going to go to Wisconsin to see how cheese is made. She milked that one (heh, pun) most of the week, much to the kiddo’s frustration, because she is usually the one he can trust to give him a straight answer.

In reply to the kiddo’s nightly inquiry about what we were going to do the next day, we took a Dread Pirate Roberts approach and told him “Good night, kiddo. It was fun. Sleep well. We’ll most likely drive home in the morning.”


Andy Jewett said...

that is awesome... Sara and I have instituted "Family Adventures" as well where the kids don't know what's up till we get there. My parents used to do that, sometimes it would be as simple as a family dinner at McDonalds or as big as going to Disney and all stops in-between. They're memory makers... they're crucial.

It was great meeting you guys in person, hope to see you again sometime. I'll let you know what I think of the book.

LoneWolfArcher said...

Awesome! We did something very similar at the end of June with our daughter. Packed her in the car and took her to Orlando 2 days before he 6th birthday.

Unfortunately, she had been sick leading up to the trip and spent her 6th birthday in Orlando's Children's Hospital @ Florida Hospital getting an IV for dehydration. Disney was cool about it and let her in two day's later to make up for her having to miss the "Free On Your Birthday" promotion.

Good times.............

Cindy said...

I loved reading the play-by-play of the journey!