The days just before the San Diego Comic Con, for those who are part of the media, can be as stressful and chaotic as the actual convention. Talent booking questions, production issues, last-minute logistical concerns, they all pop up in that day or two before one heads west to the biggest pop culture event on the planet.
For me, the biggest dilemma happened the night before I would fly out to San Diego. I’m reading a bedtime story to Alexia and Talia and I could tell they were paying less attention to me than they usually do. The reason became obvious once the story ended and it was time to put them to bed.
Talia was fine. Baby T gave me a big hug and kiss and then soon settled in for sleeptime. But when I asked Alexia what was wrong, she told me she was really sad because she wanted to draw me a picture for me to take to San Diego. Given that it was almost 9pm already, way past both their bedtimes, the picture wasn’t happening. But the look on her face was so pathetically sad — if you’re a parent, you know that look; it’s the look that has shattered the resolve of countless parents — that I needed to figure something out. There was no way I was leaving town for six days with that sadness hanging over me.
Then it hit me. Alexia, I asked her, what if you go and find one of your toys and I’ll bring it with me, to keep me company? She loved the idea and her attitude immediately shifted, in that pre-adolescent bipolar change of direction that kids can pull off effortlessly. We went to her room and she picked out one of the hundreds of Shopkins cluttering her room. (If you don’t know anything about Shopkins, you can get a crash course on the addictive collectibles here. )
She chose Sodapop, a LEGO Shopkin, as my travel partner. And with that, Sodapop and I would wake up in the morning and head to the airport.
While waiting for my connecting flight in Dallas, I checked in with the fam and that’s when Alexia told me — she doesn’t so much ask for things as she DEMANDS them, in an impossibly cute voice — she wanted me to take pictures with Sodapop all over the convention. And so my Sodapop adventure at #SDCC began.
Each day I would harass cosplayers and vendors for photo-ops with Sodapop, and then post on Instagram. That way my wife Cindi could share the pix back home with Alexia and Talia. I got so into it, by Day Two, I was borderline obsessed with potential photo-ops for young Sodapop.
The photo project turned out to be one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done at Comic Con. Sodapop made new friends, saw new sights, and I was the beneficiary of a hero’s welcome from my girls when I returned home. Best of all, the photos allowed me to stay connected with my girls despite being on the other side of the country. As my kids get older, these long work trips become a bit harder. So if it takes walking up to total strangers and asking them to pose with a pink collectible figure, then so be it.
A great big THANK YOU to the vendors, and especially to all the cosplayers, and parents of younger cosplayers, who were gracious enough to be a part of my little photo project.
Meanwhile, Alexia’s already hard at work trying to figure out which Shopkins character is hitting the road with me for the next adventure.
Here’s a gallery of all the pix Sodapop took during Comic Con: