Finding camaraderie and fun at baby expo
"Want to go to the Baby Expo?" my friend queried. I wasn't sure. The thought of dragging my toddler and preschooler out into the vog-induced humidity almost kept me at home. But my husband was working and the kids were antsy, so I headed over to the Blaisdell Center for what is billed as "Hawaii's Largest Prenatal to Preschool Expo."
Even before I made it to the ticket booth, I bumped into a mom from one of my playgroups who had just given birth a few weeks prior. It was fun catching up with her before heading over to the booths.
"Look!" exclaimed my daughter, pointing upward. A huge balloon archway welcomed us as we entered the hall. My buddies and I started strolling through the aisles. The first and only other time I had gone to the expo, I hadn't expected quite so much merchandising. But now I saw it as an opportunity to find out more about new products, services, classes and basically anything keiki-related.
Featured activities included story time, infant massage, foreign languages and gymnastics demonstrations. Lecture topics ranged from "Early Infant Learning" to "Preventing Allergies." There was even a casting call and a crawling competition. Characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog were greeting the little ones, so we went in search of Curious George.
Although we didn't find the monkey, my kids had fun making dinosaur hats, putting golf balls and taking stuffed bears to the "doctor." My friends had a good laugh making their husbands try on the 20-pound-plus. pregnancy simulator. Into my stroller went dozens of fliers, coupons and samples of everything from no-mess pens to finger-puppet cutouts.
For me, a mom who stays at home with both keiki, this plethora of ideas and activities was well worth it. I even scored free pūpū and game tokens from a local entertainment venue.
Though the crowd level ebbed and flowed throughout the day, it did get thick at times, so I was glad to have brought my single and not double stroller. All of the free snacks and giveaways kept my kids entertained. In fact, there was so much to do that we had to bypass the infant/toddler and children's play areas, though my preschooler looked over longingly at the inflatables.
In the end, it was hard to pull myself and the kids away, such that I even returned in the afternoon to sign my youngest up for a discounted toddler class. But more than the bargains, what I liked best about the expo was the sense of community. I enjoyed catching up with the people who I knew personally. And where else could I hang out with hundreds of other families and parents-to-be? It gave me a sense of unparalleled camaraderie.
The next time I want to feel that I'm not in this parenting thing alone, I know where to head.