This year's BlogHer convention is happening down in Chicago. I've been waiting for it to be held somewhere accessible for years, but now that it's within driving distance I just can't. I have a ton of work at the violin store, and it's the week of String Camp at the Conservatory. Not only am I teaching at String Camp again, but it's the first year one of my own kids is playing in it.
I'm not sure specifically what I would get out of a blogging convention since writing on this blog is not a commercial venture for me. All I know is there are many bloggers I admire who will be there, and the idea of meeting any of them in real life I think would be wonderful, and it seems like a great environment to find inspiration.
Even though I'm not attending the convention, I will get to drive down on Saturday night to meet a blogger whose writing I have enjoyed for years. She was kind enough to include me in a group dinner invitation and I'm really looking forward to it. The funny thing is I'm already worried about meeting so many new people. Will I talk too much or have nothing to say? Do I have anything to wear for an evening out with grown-ups or that isn't covered with glue and varnish? What if people who like me in blog form don't like me in person? Which all makes me wonder why I think I would survive an actual convention in the first place. I'd probably be a self-conscious wreck the whole time.
This is definitely one area where I would do well to learn from my daughter.
Aden is good at making friends. She always has been. As our firstborn she didn't have built-in playmates right away. She started looking around longingly at other children in the neighborhood when she was about three. But she was shy.
Until one day her dad gestured at all the children on the playground and said to her, "But Aden, see all these kids? They're all friends." And her blue eyes got wide and she headed out amongst the other children and didn't look back. We taught her how to introduce herself and ask people if they wanted to play, and we told her if anyone was ever brave enough to approach her with such an offer she should welcome him or her into the game.
Aden's good with people. She's polite to adults and engaging when she wants to be. I'm amused when I watch her with kids her own age, the way she speaks with a more playful cadence than I'm used to hearing her use with us.
My hope for Aden when I signed her up for String Camp this summer was that she would come to love playing in an ensemble. All she's ever experienced on violin is private lessons, which, honestly, is the least fun part of playing violin in my opinion. It's necessary, but it's all the hard work of making music. Playing with other people is where the fun comes in.
Aden's hope for String Camp (she told me last night) was that she would make a friend. And she did. She was nervous the first day, and unsure that String Camp was a good idea. But I gave her a handful of change and told her she had full vending machine privileges for the week and that perked her up. She buys packs of cookies and shares them with other kids during the break between chamber group practice and orchestra rehearsal. So she's done just fine making friends and by day two was quite happy.
I'm still not certain how much she's gotten out of the actual violin playing part of String Camp, but she told me it's been fun so that's good enough for me. As long as she has a positive association with playing in groups and isn't afraid to try it again sometime, it was worth it.
Actually, for me it's been worth it just to have her company on the drive to the Conservatory every morning. And since I'll be playing in the orchestra with the kids for the concert to help out the viola section (there is only one kid playing viola and he can only play so loud to try to balance things out against all the violins) I will get to play with Aden in her first orchestra concert! I get a little choked up just thinking about it. Playing in an orchestra with my first baby.... How wonderful is that?
I'm amazed when I look at my kids and see the things they already handle better than I did at their ages. Not to mention the things they do better than I do now. When I watch Aden overcome her innate sense of shyness in order to create the kind of experience she'd rather have, I am impressed and often inspired.
So maybe I would do okay at the BlogHer convention if I ever get to go. And I need to look at the table full of bloggers on Saturday as just a bunch of friends and dive in and not worry so much. (And to be safe, maybe see if there is anything good to share in a nearby vending machine.)