Sunday, second day of the Framingham PopCult Anime Con.
Spiky green hair or extraordinarily long pink hair, intricate foam weapons, knee high boots with lifts, tails and long gray gloves, short skirted Japanese school girl uniforms, maids and sword carrying warriors stalk the hotel halls. There are a few other functions going on in the hotel. Did the family reunion in the Concord Room know they would be running into imaginary adventurers?
Julia’s passion for My Hero Academia is completely in line with the many, many con attendees who are dressed as Hero characters or sporting identifiable tee shirts. Lots of bought costumes and some more original hand made ones are on display. A beautiful looking Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle won best costume of the con. The character, Howl, is male; I am not sure of the con’s Howl. The gender of many bewigged attendees is a complete mystery and after awhile I stop guessing. So many of the anime characters could be either or both depending on the adventure, the plot line, or the preference of the composer. Boys in skirts and make up; girls as male warrior characters. Julia has gone from rigid identifications of gender when she entered high school to the ability to accept the fluidity of this gathering. She declares that she wants to cross-dress but either I don’t understand exactly what she means or she doesn’t understand the concept. She still wants to wear dresses and skirts all the time. Now, how is that cross dressing?
Julia greets her favorite characters and admittedly I hold her back from much more. In general, the young people of the con travel in packs and Julia has not been invited to join one. We met up with a mother and son I had communicated with on an autism website. The son, same age as Julia, hung out with us for awhile before getting up the nerve to strike out on his own. He was completely appropriate although I admit to hoping he and Julia could have hung out together more. He is not generous with his attention once he connects with other young people. When we pass him in a hall on our way to another panel, Julia greets him by name, he barely acknowledges her presence. She doesn’t seem deterred from greeting him again when next he passes. I give them both credit. He is declaring independence and is too involved with his own story line, fears and demons, to invite Julia to share it. She wants to be part of the action that is more than being with me. Cons are meant to be enjoyed with friends, not moms.
I hold Julia back. I have been practicing loosing the reigns a little bit with her since the beginning of the year. My former stance was total protection of both her and the people with whom she interacted. I stayed close, prompted her interactions, corrected when she was impolite and spoke for her to simplify her messages and make them understandable. This is useful in the short run, but only in the short run. She still accepts my protection in most situations. It usually means she gets what she wants or needs quickly and without extraordinary effort.
But she needs more than protection. When we are in safe places together, I have been able to let her go—at FUS after services, at school, sometimes in the neighborhood. Right now, I am back to completely protection. Yesterday, I managed to let her go for the final dance at the con, but I stayed in the room. It was a sparse affair and the music was awful (just not dance music). Julia walked around alone, un-self-conscious, looking for a social in. She found a few folks without partners or circles of friends and asked them to dance. Some refused, some accepted. When I retrieved her to go home, she told me she loved dancings and had a great time. If she was wounded by those who refused her offer to dance, those wounds were neither deep nor lasting. She enjoyed dancing.