At Metatopia this year, I had an experience with a family that made my grinchy heart grow three sizes.
A week before the convention, Hurricane Sandy blew through the NY/NJ metro area, leaving chaos, gas rationing and power outages in her wake. The hotel was unusually full of area residents – some staying at the hotel, and some furtively charging their phones at power outlets in public spaces.
Many folks stopped me and asked what Metatopia was, including a grandmother who asked me if we were doing something theater related. I explained that we were play-testing games. She asked if we could get her grandsons involved – they were staying at the hotel and bored out of their skulls. I introduced myself to the boys, explained what we were doing and got the 50-yard stare – if you’re over 25, you know the look. I was a Charlie Brown teacher giving it her best to be approachable and friendly. And really, they probably didn’t hear a word I said.
She was so chagrined and so earnest and so intent about “making it right”. Of course I immediately invited the girls in to join us; they jumped right into a larp playtest. And Grandma seemed really relieved that a “fix” was so easy to come by.
It soothed something in me that these two girls were able to name the assumption, challenge it AND be heard. They weren’t shamed, silenced or minimized – instead, they were acknowledged, advocated for and supported. Santa, I want a dose of that for every kid on your list.