Peter David is one of my favorite writers, and an all around cool guy. He’s mostly known for his work in the comic book field, but has also written dozens of novels, as well as work in television and film. I’ve liked nearly everything I’ve read by him, and he’s one of the most fan-accessible writers in the business.
Peter’s youngest daughter is nine years old, and he often takes her with him to conventions. She’s reached an age where she wants a bit of independence, but safety is always a major concern when you’re talking about a child in a mob of people. She came up with a great idea that is good for any parent who takes their kid to large gatherings. I’m really impressed that she came up with it on her own! Smart kid!
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As my nine year old daughter gets older, she craves more freedom at conventions. Even large ones like Dragon*Con. If she needs to go to the rest room and it’s across the hall, she doesn’t want to feel she needs to be escorted. If I’ve a table in artist’s alley, which is a completely contained area with guards at the exits, she wants to be able to walk around without my holding her hand. Think of it as monitored independence.
But she thinks ahead.
When we were getting her her badge for Dragon*Con, she insisted on a name other than her own on the badge. Not a gaming or character name, but just a simple, ordinary girl’s name that wasn’t hers.
“Why?” said my wife.
“Because,” replied my daughter, “if I’m walking around and someone runs up to me and tells me you sent them, and they call me by the fake name on the badge, I know they’re bad people.”
I think that’s freaking brilliant for ANY parent who has a youngster of any age at the convention. The broader rule is that dressing your kids in clothing that has their name on it is a risky proposition. But convention badges is another good place to avoid ID’ing your child or, even better, mis-IDing her to red flag anyone with bad intentions.
UPDATE: A commenter on Peter’s Facebook came up with another brilliant suggestion:
“Another good idea: Snap a picture of your child before you head out for the day so that if you get separated, you have a visual record of exactly what s/he looks like and what s/he was wearing to show to people.”