This past weekend, I presented a paper at the NEA conference in Connecticut. I had been telling Henry and Sophia about it (mostly that their grandmother was going to be watching them…their mother was crossing state lines, etc.) and what I was doing, what it involved (they enjoy a thorough blow-by-blow of my daily life).
And then, as all two-year-olds do – they parroted it back. Conference. Conference? Henry conference? Sophia conference? And the morning of - I thought – really? Sure.
And so we played conference. Well, we retrofitted playing ‘conference’ really.
Now, if you are one of those people who think there are some things out of the realm of possible-imaginative-children-play – I can tell you. You are wrong. Just ask two toddlers.
Question: What should we have (and gather up) for our conference?
Answers (in no particular order): a toolbox, pillows, ‘colors’ (colored pencils), paper towels, tennis balls, band-aids, and a vacuum.
(Anyone else kind of terrified at the responses?)
For good measure, I threw in chairs, name-tag labels, envelopes, a few guests and programs.
I asked them – what do you think we should call the conference?
And Henry answered – ‘the cupcake conference' - obviously.
Of course, there weren’t actually any cupcakes at the cupcake conference. It was more of a signifier really.
(Oh, don’t worry – there was a great Saussure panel that really tied things together).
We did have a coffee break. And Sophia wedged the pillow in-between the chairs (why, I’m still not sure). And when I told them that before you actually present at a conference, one of your responsibilities is to look nervous and pace around – Henry was more than willing to comply.
But the best part? When I told them they had to read-up-on-all-of-the-surrounding-literature-ahead-of-time-so-they-could-field-questions-appropriately, they knew what to do. Instinctively, they brought their books to the table and, over breakfast, attentively prepared (note: Sophia was so frazzled by the event that her book isn’t even right-side-up anymore).
Of course, when the time came to actually present papers, Sophia wanted to play the piano and Henry wanted to socialize (surprised?). So we never actually got to the ‘presentation’ part. Or the board meeting.
But when we packed it all up and post-conference colored in our 'cupcake conference' programs, they said ‘Again? Play conference again?’
Which means its likely going to be a semiannual event.