Log in

No account? Create an account
Danny Danger Oz [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Kids @ Cons [Jan. 27th, 2010|04:29 pm]
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[mood |quixoticquixotic]

Way back in '91, (or was it '92?) I ran a convention and very deliberately insisted on a panel about being a parent and staying active in fandom. It had two two fan mums on it. Back at that point, I think I knew three people with kids that were still active fans.

There were quite a few more who had basically dropped out for various reasons - time/money constraints, had moved on to other interests, lost interest in fandom in the face of the new little person who needed them, just felt they couldn't do both, etc.

That was why I wanted this panel, because there were people dropping out simply because they didn't think they could do both, be a parent and an active fan. I wanted people to be able to hear from some parents who were still going to cons and clubs, and to be able to pick up some tips, so they could do the same if they wanted to.

What amazed me was the sheer lack of attendance. Especially by women who were talking about having children themselves. Because, to me, it wasn't a subject that was just about keeping yourself in fandom, it was about how to maintain the aspects of your life that you wanted to hang on to in the face of the world altering addition of another person in your life.

I thought this way a decade and a half before I even had kids, because I knew that many people will end up looking after a child at some point. And it'd be a shame to lose them simply because they didn't think they could do the stuff that they enjoyed, and still care for their kid. No-one wins in that scenario.

There are people who say that kids shouldn't be allowed at cons, and I can honestly see their point. Kids can be disruptive, excitable, loud, and annoying. They can run around, bump into people, and wave things about with no regard for the people nearby who might be hit. They can be a huge imposition to those around them who genuinely shouldn't have to put up with it. People have paid to enjoy the convention, they shouldn't have that enjoyment lessened by some out of control child.

Of course there are more than a few adult fans the above paragraph applies to as well. I can think of instances where I have seen supposedly mature adults doing all these things. In some cases at con after con after con.

Shall we stop them coming to cons too? 'Cause I'm sure I can easily list a few names that I'd rather not attend cons any more. People who always fucking yell stuff out from the audience whether it's warranted or not, especially the ones who think they're funny. Who drink too much and then proceed to be completely obnoxious fucking tools for the rest of the night. Panelists that never seem to prepare, or who always seem to talk over the top of their fellow panelists. Con-runners that never try to do a good job, but always aim for average, and con-runners that will step on whomever they please because running cons is not about community but power.

These people seriously lessen my con experience. They lessen it substantially more than any child ever has. (Except perhaps my own, but he basically kept us trapped in our room most of the time, and was pretty delightful to everyone else, so I'm prepared to put up with him - for now!)

But, you know, at the end of the day, if a child is acting up in any way, the first person who is aware of it is usually the parent. In fact, they will often be cringing. They will usually try to sort the situation out in fairly short order, and if they can't, they will take the child and leave. And as annoyed as you may be by the two minutes of a kid annoying you, how about a bit of thought for the poor parent who has to leave the item they wanted to see and continue dealing with the unruly child.

Oh there are some selfish parents. People who will just let their kid do what it wants, won't keep an eye on it, or worse, will expect other people to do so without being asked. But you know, it's not hard to go up to them and ask them to do something about their disruptive child. And if you don't want to be the bad guy, it's usually not hard to find a committee member who can do it for you.

I have Chaired four conventions and been on several committees, but I've never had a situation where I had to ask a parent to take their child and leave. I have, however, had occasion to chastise and threaten with expulsion a couple of adults, and I've had to ask one professional author to leave a con for breaking convention rules that he was well aware of beforehand.

Maybe kids don't belong at cons, but I prefer their behaviour to some of the adults who attend, because at least the children have a legitimate excuse to behave immaturely.

From: owlrigh
2010-01-27 05:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I recall going to a con down in Melbourne years ago and there were some young boys tearing about the con. I sort of looked at them in a bemused manner and thought -- carry on. Because they weren't all that interested in what was going on at the con, really; they were more interested in playing amongst themselves, and the game room.

Kids will always be able to entertain themselves once they're of a certain age, and below that particular age there ought to be a creche.

I think kids DO belong at conventions, and not because I have any. I don't.

I see all these women at every workplace I've ever been at, and I always ask them what their hobbies are. They say: I USED TO LIKE ... and now they can't, won't, do what they USED to do. It's sad that we lose women fans this way. It sucks. For a bunch of supposedly educated and liberal people, fans can be pretty goddamned narrow-minded sometimes.

If I go to a convention and it's just that wee more expensive so that there can be a creche? Fine! I want to see more parents coming along, and then maybe when their younglings have grown old enough to like SF they'll come of their own volition, tear around like those boys I saw at that con years ago. We'll be all the better for it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: callistra
2010-01-27 11:19 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mireille21
2010-01-28 04:22 am (UTC)
Seconds the love.

We seriously investigated childcare for Conjecture and just didn't have the budget for it. At one point however, someone said we should only have it if the parents paid for it. Someone else (who didn't have to worry about childwrangling) piped in with, "Well, we should make sure that only those people gaming pay for the games room. Or perhaps, if we don't have childcare we could reimburse the parents for those panels they can't attend..." Their point was well taken :) They also get my love. And here's the thing, if lack of childcare means 1-2 adults can't and don't attend a convention then you lose out on that membership money anyway. If they can attend, and their children do too, and thay all have a good time, that means more attendance money for years and even generations to come.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)