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stuff & nonsense

Ordered a new battery for the R75/5 (in the background). Finally.

Watched a bit of LJ drama from the sidelines. I'd link it but the drama itself was deleted to protect the guilty and side-discussion is friends-locked.

Watched a bit of convention drama (again, the discussion is friends-locked) from the sidelines. A convention in another time-zone that shall remain nameless just had a minor implosion on one of its web boards because a pair of folks decided that the convention wasn't doing enough to be "kid friendly" or "family friendly."

This kind of started with the head of the children's programming track asking for ideas for next year and quickly devolved into a few folks whining about how their needs as parents not being met was the reason the con is shrinking.

Now I know some of you with kids are probably less than happy with how I phrased that, but let me give you a bit of context.

One of the parties was stridently lamenting how with her children she and her husband can't have the same sort of con experience they did before the kids. Having parent-supervised kidspace wasn't an acceptable answer. "What if my husband and I both want to go to two different panels at the same time? We can't do that!" It's the con's responsibility to make this possible again by providing babysitting or daycare.

It's not so much a parenting issue as a "the world owes us" situation. As Susan Sto Helit said "Sometimes I wish there was a test before people were allowed to have children... well at least besides the practical." Raising children requires compromises of time, budget and lifestyle, and the fact that someone has a second or third child without ever accepting that is really scary.

Then again, there are a lot of consumer-fans without kids would rather beat their heads in vain against reality than learn to live in it...


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC)
For pity's sake:

>It's not so much a parenting issue as a "the world owes us" situation. As Susan Sto Helit said "Sometimes I wish there was a test before people were allowed to have children... well at least besides the practical." Raising children requires compromises of time, budget and lifestyle, and the fact that someone has a second or third child without ever accepting that is really scary.<

People who have this attitude should not be allowed to have kids. We're still negotiating how we're going to do the things we want, but we've never required the places we've gone to provide us with a break. Yeah, we've found people who were willing to pinch-hit, but that's not a given and is never expected. They should grow up and purchase a clue.
Feb. 1st, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
Raising children requires compromises of time, budget and lifestyle,

Exactly. But apparently, I'm not allowed to have an opinion, because people without kids are "selfish" and therefore undeserving of any special consideration that parents apparently are required to be treated with.

Not that I'm pissy about this or anything. /sarcasm
Feb. 1st, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
Bwahahahahahaha, since we had kidz, we pretty much gave up on attending panels! Being a parent is our choice, and we certainly don't expect other people to change everything for our choices. We were so grateful that some conventions such as Consonance had wonderful children's room so we could relax just a bit. It comes back to social entitlement - why do some people think that other people owe them for whatever choices they make? It would be nice to accomodate, but it is a privilege, not a right.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 12:07 am (UTC)
I know adults who can't sit through panels...
Feb. 2nd, 2005 12:33 am (UTC)
My dear, of COURSE you are allowed an opinion, and of course you may run it by me, parent though I am.

I personally detest people who have a sense of "the world owes me", whether it's because they have kids and expect everyone to cater to them because of it, or they are trust fund brats, or what have you.

Every con we went to where there WAS something kind of kid care or programming - well, great! But never did we EXPECT it to exist. It was just serendipity if it did. We got very used to skipping panels :(, leaving panels early, taking turns on kid-duty while the other one got to go to panels.... Our kids, our responsibility; we only hoped for s few simple things like booster seats in reataurants, and if they didn't have one, we always had one in the trunk of our car.

And I certainly left panels if my kids started acting up. I can't impose my small children on everyone else who is there to payattention to speakers, not a whining child.

And I still have to take care of kids, albeit older ones. So, I can't run off gleefully with you guys to cosplay Easterlings or such anytime I want. But I made my choice, and I know some freedoms I temporarily put aside will just have to wait until they are grown.
Feb. 1st, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
Overall, your view is exactly my feeling (and the feeling of some others on concom). The thing is, we do try to accommodate people to a degree - it's just that, to paraphrase Freddie Mercury, they want it all.

rockgoddes and I were discussing this last night, and while I agree that the decision to have children puts a crimp in the parents' lifestyle, it's a decision that they make (in most cases) knowing that their lives are going to be much different. However, they refuse to take responsibility for that decision, or they fail to anticipate the magnitude of the difference it makes, and try to go on living footloose and fancy-free despite having the kids. FWIW, rockgoddes is a parent herself, and while she sympathizes, she doesn't go around expecting to be entitled to special treatment. She's practical; she makes her own arrangements. Even when she went to England for a Buffy con, she didn't expect the con to look after her son while she ogled James Marsters all weekend.

It's one thing that I respect my friend Mike for; although I wish I could still see him as frequently as I used to (we used to play bridge at the club every Friday night), since his two children were born I've probably only seen him about 15 times, and the eldest is now 5. He's dedicated his time to raising his children, which is as it should be. Far too many people expect their children to raise themselves, or pay strangers to do it for them, and then wonder why they don't turn out as perfect little angels.

In a perfect world, we'd be happy to bring in professional daycare operators to look after members' children. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world, and we're not going to spend 5% of our budget to accommodate 2% of our members... especially since we have less room in our current hotel than we did in our old one (which went bankrupt two years ago, otherwise we would never have moved).
Feb. 2nd, 2005 01:24 pm (UTC)
Maybe you just need (with your co-head) to make a simple statement:

"TT programming is dedicated to providing quality children's programming; this is why we have a track lead for children's programming.

Child-care is not a programming function. The programming department doesn't have the space to operate a child-care service and still meet our other obligations. We also don't have the budget, expertise, insurance or licenses to operate a child-care service."
Feb. 1st, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
Kid friendly conventions and the like
Alright, I know y'all just knew I'd have to weigh in on this one (being that we're one of our few friends with kids and we attend the occasional convention). A couple of points here, since I'm chattily-inclined.
Life IS different before and after you have kids (and we're expecting Abigail, fully forewarned that life changes even more radically from 1 to 2 than it did 0 to 1, wild as that may sound). Anyone who goes into parenting thinking that they're not going to be able to have as much fun after they had kids, or won't be able to have the same experiences they did prior to kids, is, imho, woefully misguided. Our kids add to the mix when we have them around us, and alter our perspective even when we don't.
That having been said, we found out (sometimes the hard way, but we know now, going into round 2) that not every event is child-friendly. Teas are not a great place to take a 3 year old. Conventions are iffy, frankly (lots of breakables, unknown quantities in the crowds, bored and accordingly noisy kids at panels). But even if a convention provided child care as a perk, personally the idea of leaving my child with a stranger in a hotel somewhere away from home so that I could go off and play like a grownup seems risky at best, potentially catastrophic.
So what do we do as parents and costuming/fandom, Jay and I? We choose our events carefully for whether Katie would have as much enjoyment in attending same as we would. We try to take other people's expectations of the event into account as well. We expect that our experiences in that regard will be tinged with her perceptions, and try to go with it. Sometimes we tag team the cutie-pie if we just need some down time (don't think we limit this to events either - who do you think is reading to Katie about Arthur's underwear while I'm busy typing here?).
It's important to us that you note, however, that we did not give up our adult lives as a result of parenthood. We do go to adult-only events: parties, Guild teas, balls. We can carry on coherent conversations that don't involve playdate politics or the merits of DragonTales vs. Elmo. But you can be darned sure that we make sure we know who we're leaving Katie with to go to our grown-up functions. When there's an event we want to go to, and there's no child care available we're comfortable with, and the event isn't child friendly - we punt. We take Katie with us to a movie (we did dinner and a movie - a "date" if you will with her once and had a blast, frankly!), to a park, to somewhere else - and have just as much fun as the new kind of family we've become that we would have had in our old shoes "before," and hopefully without beating our friends and neighbors about the head and shoulders with same unless they're consenting as well.
Hm, sounds like maybe your friends have their priorities mixed up. Maybe they need a good playdate with other fannish parents. Or just a time out in the corner.
Regards -
Feb. 1st, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Kid friendly conventions and the like
There are very few parents I interact with on a regular basis who aren't capable of finding solutions to allow themselves to retain some aspects of their adult lives. It's all part of finding a balance.

My friends, though, are the people on the con-com who are trying to find solutions without murdering the dweebs.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 12:55 am (UTC)
Re: Kid friendly conventions and the like

But as parent of 2 happy congoers and novice costumers (now ages 10 and 14), I still think adding the 1st child to our family mix was by far the most traumatic. Adding a 2nd one was not nearly the "trial by fire" that the first one was, since we had already learned to accommodate dealing with the logistics of young-un added to our lives. It just increased the workload, not instigated drastic change.

There's only been a very few times we've utilized some kid-programming at cons, when the kids were old enough to deal - like the "kid care" / costuming room at Mil. Philcon, where the elder could keep eye out on the younger (and was old enough to handle that responsibility.)
Feb. 1st, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
A convention I help out on lost our "kid programming" person and no one stepped up to take over.

So we switched to providing a Kid Space, but No, Nada, None, Zero, Zippo person in charge and blurb in the program saying so.

Parent were not to use the Zone as a dumping point, as there was no one in charge.

Parents were encouraged to share supervisory duties, if they wanted to give each other a break, but the con would not be providing someone to supervise them.

etc, etc, etc.

But you know, we still got parental units asking "Who's in charge of the Kid Zone?"
Feb. 2nd, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)
I think I know which one you are talking about, and my eldest is old enough to be the "in charge" one when she has time as she was last year, to several parents' delight....
Feb. 2nd, 2005 01:04 am (UTC)
I'll pass on the s/Parents/Family Members/ change.

We'd be glad to have your eld one help out.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 02:07 am (UTC)
We're all pre-regged, but at this point there may be a schedule conflict. We're not sure yet....
Feb. 1st, 2005 11:45 pm (UTC)
Ooo, was the drama my drama? Yay! And it gets better - the original moderator may ask me to be a moderator, too! Ain't that funny?

As far as kids go, yeah, it's a toughie. Thankfully my friends with kids are keenly aware that their lives are not the same as most other people's, and they accommodate themselves, and the people around them, respectfully. For example, my friend Penni has 3 kids, so she goes to Pennsic for the first week alone, then the second week she brings the kids - and we barely see her! In return, however, I try to make time to spend with her AND her kids, since she's making time NOT to see me.

Now that's respect. I wish everyone were so.
Feb. 1st, 2005 11:57 pm (UTC)
You have got to be fucking kidding...

As I mentioned to Denisen, the vast majority of the parents I know (and all that I am willing to hang out with which includes the ones who commented here):

a) find a balance between their lives with their kids and adult activities.
b) understand that their kids have to come first, even if it sometimes means giving up things they don't necessarily want to
c) actively work to ensure that their kids, as they get old enough to understand, learn to function with adults.

It's the ones who don't who are on the road to being both fannish and parenting failures.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
Your a), b) and c) have always been very important points to us. :)

Since we have made the decicion in life to work with "unfinished human product" :p, we aim to eventually guide and civilise that "unfinished product" into becoming more cool "finished" adult people to the best of our ability. It sure doesn't happen without us. We know we can't rely on anyone else, including the school system (as so many idiot parents try to do!) to do it for us.

And we like hanging out with you too, very much. :)
Feb. 2nd, 2005 10:39 am (UTC)
I kid you not - I'll post more in my LJ today. Whee!
Feb. 2nd, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
More on same
Not to get too boring on the same subject (I do tend to go on ...), but I have to just post to agree with Andy.

I think Jay will agee that our overall goals with Katie are to make sure she enjoys a happy childhood, learns to set and stay within limits when needed (though stepping outside the box is encouraged in some regards, e.g., costuming, writing, etc.), and learns to get along with the people around her (a quality sadly lacking in many adult fen). I figure a mark of our success is that Katie will have interesting stories to tell her friends when she's in her 20's, but won't be overly traumatized by anything we do, and will stay in contact with us by choice as an adult. 8-)
Frankly, it's been a lot of fun raising Katie so far - more than any number of "how to raise your child" books told us. A phenomenal amount of work, too, but what a fabulous ride it's been so far (and we're still only 4 years in)!

One thing I can say for sure (and will now, before signing off) is how grateful we've been to our friends and co-fen who've been around when we've had Katie. Some dumped us entirely when we had kids (no contact, no nothing), and so we learned the value they placed on our friendship. Some requested (verbally or otherwise) non-child attended socialization only, and we've been fine with that too (it was to be expected, and is most definitely not considered as an offense). But the best part has been having fun with our friends with Katie, and at conventions or events with her. They've graciously made allowances, often without being asked, for which we're eternally grateful, and as a result, Katie's been able to learn things that no other 4 year old in her class knows about (Klingons, 19th century party dresses, croquet, watched us fit a bodice). And hey, she gives some friends a chance to buy the plastic tiaras and 4-foot long pink stuffed unicorns they'd always wanted as kids. We try not to impose ourselves or our lifestyle on our friends, but we sure do appreciate it when we're welcomed into the fold.

So if I haven't thanked you (you know who you are), let me thank you now, and tell you that you hold some of the "special-est" places in our hearts.

Feb. 2nd, 2005 01:11 am (UTC)
One of the parties was stridently lamenting how with her children she and her husband can't have the same sort of con experience they did before the kids. Having parent-supervised kidspace wasn't an acceptable answer. "What if my husband and I both want to go to two different panels at the same time? We can't do that!" It's the con's responsibility to make this possible again by providing babysitting or daycare.

Is she from Mars or something? o.O

The only thing I hope in terms of "kid friendly" from ANY con unrestrictedly open to the general public is:

a) Please let me know if there are different registration fees for kids if I am bringing kids, ie: if there is a discount under a certain age (like at least age 5, particularly since they usually can't get much out of being at the con if they are young enough that they are there merely because their parents dragged them along due to lack of babysitting.)

That's it.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 10:25 am (UTC)
I guess I have a unique perspective of having co-run Children's Services at N4 with the following qualifications:

(1) I don't have "small objects."

(2) Current plans do not include creating "small objects." (This may change after reviewing Con Calendars and travel plans for the next 18-24 months.)

(3) I had never run Children's Services for any other Con.

(4) I am a ConSuite/Room Party Ghoddess. I ran LosCon 2000's and Con Jose's ConSuites. I created Idiacon Bid on a trainride going to Westercon 2003. I pour Green Drinks. 'Nuf Said.

(5) I am a Majority Member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. I have served as an Advisor for an Asssembly a few years back. These are girls aged 11-21. Not "small objects."

(6) Very few of my Con-Family have "small objects." While this is slowly changing, the ones that do, go from the extreme of absolutely uncontrolable 4 year old to extremely well-behaved (aka not fussy) 3 month old.

While at N4, the few things that saved me included: (a)Inger Meyers -- awesome gal from the Kansas City area. She so Rocks!!! She is my antitheses, having degrees in early Ed. and Special Ed. (a)Having "older objects" (aka early and responsible teens). Mr. Bill should work with kids for the rest of his life!! At 13, he controlled my check-in desk with the authority of someone 3xs his age. (c)Lastly, a Children's Programming set of tracks (note: plural!). At a WorldCon, you can have more than one track and get kids into them. The trick is making sure that the panelists are GREAT with kids rather than TOLLERATES kids. On that front, Persis Thorndike put a rocking set of panels together!!

And then there was the PAID Babysitting. KiddieCorp, a very expensive effort for N4, was a Ghod send for the late night (6pm - 12mid) crowd. It was a very easy gig for them, as daylight hours they only got the babe-in-arms and littlest "small objects" so had a light staff. Moonlight hours, they had kids up to 12, and showed movies...again, fairly easy once you get them settled.

So, as for a Con making themselves "kid-friendly" -- even if the entire ConComm spawned "small objects" -- unless there is a member of the Con's Community who's willing to take lead, it ain't going to happen. And even then, it will never be what 100% of the Parental Units want.

At N4, we had rules and guidelines that we published for almost a year pre-Con. We ran into execution problems with our own rules as they were interpreted N! ways. In the end, a lot of Common Sense and Paranoia infiltrated how we handled each and every kid. Some we ignored the rules for as they had proven themselves responsible. Others we overly enforced the rules on as they just were not socially ready to be without their Parental Unit.

Could what we did at N4 work at a smaller (1000 or less) Con? Only if you spend X% of your staff/volunteer/money/space points on Kids. I don't know how much it finally ended up being for N4, but we did not have enough pre-arranged volunteers and could have used two more Manager-types so that Inger and I saw more of the Con.

If anyone would like more information, I'd being willing to reply to your questions about how N4 went. It's not all lost in the sleep/food/caffine deprived memories of N4. ;-)

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )