Toddlers in Fantasy

Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s not a lot of new parenthood in epic fantasy. It could be that I’m reading the wrong stuff (possible but unlikely), or that the genre as a whole has a problem with the idea. Plenty of characters seem to have children, but you never see the formative years or the whole my-ambitions-are-inconvenienced-by-a-walking-shitstorm stage. Why not?

In honesty, only one of my stories features a new parent with prominence, and I don’t really understand why. Having a five-year-old myself, I am well-placed to be writing about it, so why haven’t I?

Perhaps it’s the traditional view we take of pseudomedieval stories – small children were generally considered to be a hindrance, if a necessity for shoring up a dynasty. Perhaps it’s the broadly male-dominated pool of protagonists. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that having grand adventures is much more difficult when toting a child around. It’s kind of hard to battle dragons and use magic when a little person is tugging your hand because they need to go to the toilet.

Whatever the reason, I think it should change. Parenthood is something most of us eventually take on, and as a natural and essential part of society, shouldn’t we take a look at it? Too often, we focus on our own upbringings, our own parents’ failings, when the way we choose to raise our children, while less lofty than most ambitions, makes a large difference to those children.

Why not write the story that spans raising a baby to a child? Why not factor in toilet training and table manners while plotting coups and crushing rebellions? Why does parenthood tend to be brushed aside? Any life choice which results in the ability to face the disgusting without balking, which uncovers a massive capacity for endurance (especially without sleep), which illustrates just how much conditioning we do ourselves, should surely be examined in greater depth.


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