Friday, April 24, 2009

Meeting Swag, Parent Style

One of the most challenging chores of any meeting I attend involves appeasing my children for the absence. When they are very small they are just glad to see you walk in the door again. After that, things get more difficult.

Lucky for us, most convention centers are surrounded by stores with stuff you can acquire for legal tender. Even exhibit halls can be sources of free stuff that will delight young children. An assortment of highlighters and stress balls was often more appreciated than carefully chosen gifts. Of course, I often scoured the stores for age-appropriate books with local flavor. Trip to Texas: Bluebell the Hill Country O'possum (she got mistaken for the football at the Texas-Oklahoma game during one adventure). Washington DC: All sorts of critters have written about the White House and other local sights. You get the idea.

Eventually, though, the children realize that your trips are valuable... to them. I remember the year APS had its first sex conference in October 2001. Unfortunately, I would be out of town until the day after my son's 9th birthday. I explained to him that I really, really, really needed to be in Pittsburgh for this meeting. Did he understand? And, by the way, would he like a special gift?

He really understood and immediately requested a Penguins hockey sweater. Hockey sweaters are pretty costly, even in youth sizes. I learned that day that my son can be bought, but he is expensive (like his mom).

As the kids have gotten older, they want different things. My 21 year old daughter likes jewelry, and I can usually find something to fit her taste. New Orleans has a store called Local Charm in the RiverCenter which features the work of regional artists. Her earrings were a simple choice.
My 16 year old son is usually satisfied with tees or hoodies for local sports teams, especially for college baseball and football. He can be a bit picky about color and the exact writing on it, but most convention areas can produce such an item. This time I did send a photo to him for pre-approval.
I found the video at right as I was browsing. Now, I know he would like it, but I really don't want to be known as the mom who brought her son soft porn. I will save that sort of swag for when some meeting hits something important, like his graduation or wedding.
Don't go ballistic.
I'm JOKING. I wouldn't miss his graduation or wedding!


  1. I learned that day that my son can be bought, but he is expensive (like his mom).This had me chuckling aloud in the cafe I am sitting in.

    That picture is out of control. One night of the meeting I ended up on Bourbon St with a bunch of male colleagues looking for a place for dinner. The only thing I can say is that I am thankful they were willing to surround me, creating a man-shield around my profound hotness. That place was out of control.

  2. Of course, the hottest babes on Bourbon street are often guys...

  3. I have missed several of my daughter's birthdays for work related meetings since she was born. She is good-natured about it. But, it is especially nice that one standardly conflicting meeting looks like it will not be that way anymore. Huzzah!

    The kids do remind me when I go to bring them back something. This last meeting, I brought back books by a local to the visited area author, signed by the author, where the local area was the setting. These were expensive books. This was not up to par for expected loot, I learned. *Sigh*