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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...


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. ;-)


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