This past weekend was the latest iteration of the Traveling Circus and Snake-Handling Show (about which there will be more later; I'm pulling together our set lists). And, as has become the norm for us, we had several children under the age of five in attendance, at least for the first part of the evening. I'm pretty sure only Josh, who I keep referring to as "the micro-human," made it to the end of the evening. The Circus itself comes with three children under ten. All children were fabulously well-behaved, with attentive parents who kept them occupied and distracted them whenever they started getting bored.
Early on, one of the children, who is just hitting the age of "oh, wow, music is AWESOME!!!" did some delighted laughing at the sound check. A few dirty looks were directed. I promptly claimed the microphone, pointed out the kid in question, and made sure the room was aware of just how happy I was to have him there, and how happy I was that his parents felt we were a safe space.
I did not see any further dirty looks.
So here, just to be clear, is my official position on children at book release parties: as long as you're happy to miss part of the reading or the set list because your kid is crying and you need to go walk around outside, I am happy to have you. Not just happy: ecstatic. On the rare occasions where I have events that are not child-friendly, it will be clearly stated from the get-go. You know, "Hey, it's me and Chuck Wendig, we both swear a lot and egg each other on, so unless you want your kids to get sent home from school eighteen times, please leave them home." Why?
Because when I was a kid, people took me out to see and do things. I fell asleep behind the harp case at Golden Bough concerts, I fell asleep on the lawn at Beach Boys concerts...I was a very sleepy child. And before I fell asleep, I ran around, I laughed, I shrieked, I was fussy, I did kid stuff. I was allowed.
This is not me saying "you, person without children, you are less important than that baby who has been screaming next to you for ten minutes." I expect that parents who bring their kids to my events will be responsible, and guess what? So far, I've been right. If that changes in the future, I'll be taking the microphone to say "hey, if you need a quiet space to walk your baby back to sleep, here's a place you can do it." I'd say the same thing if an adult had been screaming for ten minutes. Although maybe a little less nicely.
What this is is me saying "everybody gets to come to the party." As long as we're all playing nice and being responsible, we are all welcome. No dirty looks for anybody. And our reward? Is watching my mother dancing with toddlers, which is pretty damn awesome.
I love my fanbase. Y'all are so cool.