[identity profile] texasbek.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ds_workshop
In "Seeing is Believing", when Ray K reveals that he wanted to be a father, I saw him in a whole new light. I certainly know a lot of men who want to be fathers, but probably not any who would end a marriage over it. So this strong desire of his to have children says interesting things about his personality. At the very least it gives you a canon lead in to writing him as a father. For the most part I read F/K and there is certainly something appealing about a post-COTW happily-ever-after that includes fatherhood.

Let me say straight out that I do not go out of my way to find and read kidfic. I have read some great examples. Speranza's "With Six You Get Eggroll" and Journey's "Family Portrait" spring to mind, but I have read far more awful stories. There are some basic things that throw me out of a story so fast I'm scrambling for that back button. Full disclosure time: I am not a great writer. I'm not even a good writer. But, I am an avid reader and more important for the purposes of this discussion, I am a mother who is surrounded by children. I have my own 3 (ages 7,5 and 11 months); 7 nieces from 2 to 13 and I teach 7th through 9th grades. I often feel much more comfortable conversing with children than adults and it is this perspective with which I view kidfic.

The number one rule to keep in mind is that children are not miniature adults. I've read of three-year olds "toddling" and six-year olds quoting Dostoevsky. I have seven-year old little boy in my Physics class. And while truly brilliant, he still talks like a seven year old. Even Fraser as seen in "Easy Money" was clearly a boy. Oh, he was trying to learn to be a man. But his body language, his speech all spoke of a twelve year old. And yet, in kidfic, you often see five-year olds deliver sage wisdom that inevitably brings our heroes together. Fives may be many things but sage isn't one of them. If you choose to write about a five-year old daughter, then observe little girls of this age. If you don't have a niece or friend or some other living example, there are some guidelines you can use.

Child Behavior Archive has a list of questions and answers about common (and some not so common) childhood concerns.

The about.com forum on child development is chock full of great information. You can read about everyday behaviors, motor skills development and what a child might be learning in school at that age. Which brings me to my next topic, education.

Depending on whether your child is being raised in Canada or the States, at some point you are going to have to think about school, particularly if Fraser is involved. I just can't see him not placing a premium on a good education.

In Canada, where and how the children go to school depends largely on where they live. Studycanada.ca claims:
"Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, education is important to Canadians, and standards across the country are uniformly high.
"In general, Canadian children attend kindergarten for one or two years at the age of four or five on a voluntary basis. All children begin Grade One at about six years of age. The school year normally runs from September through the following June but in some instances, January intake dates are possible. Secondary schools go up to Grades 11 or 12, depending on the province. From there, students may attend university, college or Cégep studies. Cégep is a French acronym for College of General and Vocational Education, and is two years of general or three years of technical education between high school and university. The province of Québec has the Cégep system".

If you'd like for your characters to be home-schooled, Canadian Home Based Learning Resources Page pools information about provincial laws and resources.

In the States there is less variation among public primary and secondary schools. If you would like an overview, the US Department of Education is the place to go. A lot of their site is devoted to No Child Left Behind which may or may not be around much longer. In short, public schools are required to meet some standard, so at each grade, your little Fraser/Kowalski/Vecchio will take standardized testing to assure they are meeting grade-level benchmarks.

If the children are in private school, there are more possibilities, but they will still have to meet standards. The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement is the organization that accredits public and private schools in Illinois. There you can find the standards and criteria schools must meet to maintain their accreditation.

If you would like a look at schools of both types in Chicago, Greatschools.net has the scoop including parent reviews.

"Edison Elementary Regional Gifted Center is a wonderful school. Our son is thriving there under the tutelage of Mrs. Nelson. My one complaint is there don't seem to be enough opportunities to learn tracking, hunting and other survival skills. Physical education seems to be devoted to games such as dodge-ball that, while being rigorous physical exercise, as far as I can ascertain have no real-world implications. Perhaps the addition of a scouting troop would be advantageous." B. Fraser, RCMP

I hope this is at least somewhat helpful to you when writing a child into the life of due South. Please, feel free to discuss.

Date: 2007-09-04 09:15 pm (UTC)
ext_975: photo of a woof (Dief)
From: [identity profile] springwoof.livejournal.com
this entry should go in the "memories" section of everyone attempting kidfic...

Date: 2007-09-04 09:30 pm (UTC)
ext_2366: (duesouth: awesome)
From: [identity profile] sdwolfpup.livejournal.com
Great stuff here, thank you! My long-overdue ds_harlequin fic has kids in it, so this will be a good resource for checking some stuff I've already written.

Date: 2007-09-04 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nos4a2no9.livejournal.com
Wow, this looks like it will be incredibly useful! I'm tackling a post-CotW kidfic myself and, as I don't have any regular contact with children, those developmental resources will be very helpful. In terms of the education, I did include a section on schooling (http://community.livejournal.com/ds_workshop/18934.html#cutid5) in my post about life in northern Canada (http://community.livejournal.com/ds_workshop/18934.html). Readers might find that useful if they're looking for details about rural schooling that the studycanada.ca (http://www.studycanada.ca) site doesn't cover. I also briefly covered what social and medical services are available.

Thanks for putting this together! It is full of good information, and I am taking your advice about matching the child's age to the child's behaviour to heart.

I've got a couple questions that you might be able to answer, or we can open the discussion up to comments. I was wondering if you had any tips about how to avoid the schmoooop factor when it comes to writing about children. (And this is open to discussion in the comments, too). How much sugar is sweet enough, and how much causes a diabetic coma? Also, what are some cliches one should avoid when writing about parenting and childrearing? What kind of information would Fraser or Ray have at their disposal when they try to bring up a child? What books do you think Fraser would check out of the library? My only point of reference is Dr. Spock and I have a feeling that that is sadly outdated.

Thanks again for such a terrific workshop post, and I hope it generates a lot of discussion!

Date: 2007-09-05 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] green-grrl.livejournal.com
I personally like Dr. Sears' Attachment Parenting stuff but I'm not sure that Fraser or RayK would be into that. Not that they would dissaprove, but I just don't see them getting that crunchy in their parenting.

Hee! I have one sister who's totally crunchy who naturally did the Sears thing. The much more conservative sister who pooh-poohed ended up doing the same when her first baby insisted! I could see Ray being that smooshy around his baby, and once Fraser does research, being right into it, too.

Date: 2007-09-04 10:23 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (ray cotw)
From: [personal profile] sage
Yay!! This was wonderful! Thanks so much for tackling it -- and prepare to be inundated with questions about kids! I don't write kids (or at least haven't yet) because I haven't been around any (up close) for years. So, uh, I can write kids playing games down in the parking lot? *g* But yeah, I'd be at a complete loss at writing kids with actual personalities.

I have known a few guys, though, who really, really wanted to be dads. Enough to make it a dealbreaker in their relationships. It's kind of nice, in its way, to see family mean so much to them and their sense of self. Not so great for a marriage to someone who isn't interested in kids, but you're totally right about it being a HUGE issue in terms of characterization. :D

Date: 2007-09-05 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spuffyduds.livejournal.com
Thanks much for this thoughtful post, especially all the links!

Date: 2007-09-05 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mickeymvt.livejournal.com
Great resourcs and info in here, thanks for sharing!

I've got a kidfic!plot bunny floating around, so these will be most handy.

Date: 2007-09-05 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] green-grrl.livejournal.com
This is fabulous! I love a good kidfic. I'm totally bookmarking for the child behavior/development sources.

One thing I'd add that's DS specific is not characterizing Fraser as unsure, removed, nervous, etc. around kids. He puts up his barriers and becomes hesitant around, e.g., women throwing themselves at him; but he opens up and lets his playful side out around babies and children in canon. He even did tolerably well with Janet Morse's kids, who were pretty much impossible. Yet I've seen uptight!Fraser in kidfic, as it's a characterization for him that's easy for a writer to go to. Not the way he with kids in canon, though.

Good eps to review for babies and little kids: Diefenbaker's Day Off; A Cop, a Mountie and a Baby (puffin face!); Bounty Hunter.
Good eps with teens: Free Willie; Chicago Holiday; The Promise; Some Like It Red; Say Amen.

Date: 2007-09-09 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nos4a2no9.livejournal.com
Good observation about Fraser, [livejournal.com profile] green_grrl! I've seen that characterization of Fraser in kidfic more than once and it's always bothered me. Thanks for pointing out those eps, too - they're a good resource to return to when figuring out how Fraser behaves around children.

Date: 2007-09-05 06:49 pm (UTC)
starfishchick: (ds - motb - steel boats iron men)
From: [personal profile] starfishchick
Physical education seems to be devoted to games such as dodge-ball that, while being rigorous physical exercise, as far as I can ascertain have no real-world implications.

Thanks for the post, and for the above sentence. Made my day!

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