Kid + Adult = friends. Is that too creepy?

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Elenitsa

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I think that a child and an adult can be friends. A child needs models outside his immediate family. From the adult's perspective, of course, he is more of a mentor than a friend.

I had adult friends when 12-20, and with the one I met in my first year of Uni I am still friends, even if she is my mother's age. The other, may God rest her in peace, had also been close to me and I pray for her, mentioning her among my deceased relatives at the holidays dedicated to the commemoration of deceased. My mother knew them and had nothing against it. Not allowing me to visit them was the biggest punishment when I misbehaved.

At my turn, I had also a little friend, 16 years younger than me. We are still in contact, now she got married and has her own children. I attended her wedding. I had been her friend all her school time (uni included).
 

Kat M

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Thanks everyone for your replies! Many of you said that I sounded very passionate about the story (which I am :)) I've decided not to let this problem of creepy or not get to me. I should just write it. I mean, I am already on Book 2. Why stop because of a little hiccup?

Thanks again everyone!

That sounds like a good idea. When you've got it written you can step back with a critical eye and fix any subtleties that lead to creepiness. Right now, just go for the writing. Good luck!
 

mccardey

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I've decided not to let this problem of creepy or not get to me. I should just write it. I mean, I am already on Book 2. Why stop because of a little hiccup?

That sounds like a good idea. When you've got it written you can step back with a critical eye and fix any subtleties that lead to creepiness. Right now, just go for the writing. Good luck!

Yes, good luck and keep writing, but perhaps for Book Two just think about taking on board the responses you've had here, which are pretty universally saying the same thing. You can expect at least some agents and readers to feel the same way. As you write on, try to have the answers in your head as to why this set-up works - and be dripping those answers through.

You'll probably need to go back and rework Book One a bit, but if you keep the issue in mind while you're writing Book Two, there'll be less to fix there.

All the best with it.
 

-Riv-

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Thanks everyone for your replies! Many of you said that I sounded very passionate about the story (which I am :)) I've decided not to let this problem of creepy or not get to me. I should just write it. I mean, I am already on Book 2. Why stop because of a little hiccup?
If you're writing purely for your own enjoyment, then go for it. However, from other threads, it seems you intend to publish. If that's the case,IMO, you shouldn't stop writing, but it might behoove you to take a step back and reeeeeally absorb what folks have been expressing in this thread. These in depth responses weren't generated by a little hiccup, and if that's what you've taken away from the thread, you might be missing what's being said.

Consider rereading this whole thread again a few times, and if you have questions about what's being said, ask. :) Pay particular attention to the power differential issue and Mr. Thomas putting his needs ahead of Barney's. Before you write an additional eight or nine volumes, try to un-stick the way you think of Mr. Thomas and determine how you can portray him as a responsible caretaker adult in Barney's life rather than an enabler in a codependent relationship.

(This is a completely different issue than creepiness or the grooming aspect which should be able to be tweaked to eliminate the problems.)

Best of luck with the endeavor!

All the best,
Riv
 

The Second Moon

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I wish I could post an scene about Barney and Mr. Thomas that I won't ever publish in SYW. Maybe that'll give you guys a better look at their relationship because honestly, I don't think I'm describing it right.
 

-Riv-

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I wish I could post an scene about Barney and Mr. Thomas that I won't ever publish in SYW. Maybe that'll give you guys a better look at their relationship because honestly, I don't think I'm describing it right.
Why can't you post it?
 

The Second Moon

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You (maccardey and Riv) are right. I'm being a jerk for not listening to others advice. I wish I was as nice and as considerate as the people on this thread

I just feel like I'm not explaining Mr. Thomas right. He is really good to Barney and he would never put his needs in front of Barney's. He's just scared to let others get too close.
 

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I maintain it can be done. Execution, baby. Cautious and with many eyes and sensitivity readers, and McCardey's comment: "As you write on, try to have the answers in your head as to why this set-up works - and be dripping those answers through. " is very good.

A few real world friendships:

https://www.thethings.com/young-boy-elderly-man-dementia-form-adorable-friendship/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/this-4-year-old-made-an-unlikely-friend-at-the-grocery-store/

(Great dialog: "Hi old person! Today's my birthday!")

It might just need the right tweak to one character (probably the old man) to keep it from creepy territory. But I don't disagree with the others about how things could potentially go sidewise.

A 67 year old woman on the edge of dementia making CRAZY things in her lab, and a 12 year old budding scientist sounds intriguing. And we the reader are never sure of whether he's actually an alligator or not, or if it's her dementia. That's not your story, of course.
 
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-Riv-

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You (maccardey and Riv) are right. I'm being a jerk for not listening to others advice. I wish I was as nice and as considerate as the people on this thread

I just feel like I'm not explaining Mr. Thomas right. He is really good to Barney and he would never put his needs in front of Barney's. He's just scared to let others get too close.
No one is implying you're being a jerk. :Hug2:

Folks are simply pointing out issues for you to carefully consider as you move forward with the writing, and you're responses aren't giving confidence that you get what's being said. (So we keep trying. :greenie )

It's definitely possible to write a great MG story with an old inventor and a twelve-year-old adopted child/ward as the key players. There are just some potholes it would be wise to avoid, especially since you have complete control over how the adult character is portrayed. It's not set in stone.

All the best,
Riv
 

mccardey

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You (maccardey and Riv) are right. I'm being a jerk for not listening to others advice. I wish I was as nice and as considerate as the people on this thread

I just feel like I'm not explaining Mr. Thomas right. He is really good to Barney and he would never put his needs in front of Barney's. He's just scared to let others get too close.
Oh no - you're not being a jerk. :Hug2:It's quite possible that you just haven't quite explained how it works for you (which, again is something you'll need to be able to do for a Query Letter ARGH!!! ) but the more you keep thinking about it, the clearer it will become.
 

Kat M

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I maintain it can be done. Execution, baby. Cautious and with many eyes and sensitivity readers [. . .]
(emphasis mine)

Seconding this. You say you're struggling to explain the relationship correctly. Perhaps you are able to show it better than you can tell it. Why don't you keep all this advice at the back of your brain, produce or edit your draft, and share it with a beta or five? You can ask them to specifically look at the relationship and analyze what parts strike them as creepy or inappropriate and why they think so. And if what you've written is NOT creepy or inappropriate, then if someone is willing to also look at your query or blurb, they can better advise you where your description is going wrong?

As a teacher I think it's vitally important that children's literature both a.) showcases healthy relationships, not unhealthy ones and b.) showcases a diverse selection of these relationships. Your book could potentially do both, but right now it sounds like you still have some editing to do. And that's something we all have to do, not just you. I'm working on the same issue with mental health and racial representation in my own WIP. It's going to be OK.
 

mccardey

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Remember, we're not accusing your character of being creepy. We're just saying that as described here in your post there are some red flags which you might want to remove.

Easy-peasy. (No, it isn't - but as Kat M says, we all have to do it. It's the work part of writing ;) )
 

Introversion

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You (maccardey and Riv) are right. I'm being a jerk for not listening to others advice. I wish I was as nice and as considerate as the people on this thread

I hope you know that everyone who took the time to respond on this thread wishes you success?

I just feel like I'm not explaining Mr. Thomas right. He is really good to Barney and he would never put his needs in front of Barney's. He's just scared to let others get too close.

It may be that you know exactly how to write this relationship, in a way that no one who reads it ever thinks, "Hmm, that seems sketchy; is he a pervert?"

But it could also be that what you think sounds like a perfectly safe & healthy relationship between these two, won't seem that way to many people who read it?

There have been times when a crit partner has insisted that a passage I'd written was confusing to them, or didn't work as I thought it did. Unless I've had really good reasons to suspect they're wrong, I've paid attention and tried to rework it.

If you ever SYW parts of this story that you think are representative of how the characters interact, then maybe we can say, "Hey, The Second Moon, you were totally right! You got this!" Until then, we have only your summary of it to go on, and nervousness about same.
 

Introversion

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Speaking of child--adult pairs, what about in Stranger Things Season 2 where...

Yeah, not the same. The cop didn't make her his deputy. And while he may suck a bit at being an adoptive father, that's clearly what he was trying to do.

If you're thinking Stranger Things 2 is a good analogy for your story's relationship, then I think you haven't described the latter very well to us?
 

starrystorm

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Yeah, not the same. The cop didn't make her his deputy. And while he may suck a bit at being an adoptive father, that's clearly what he was trying to do.

If you're thinking Stranger Things 2 is a good analogy for your story's relationship, then I think you haven't described the latter very well to us?

Oops. Sorry. I'm not the OP. I was trying to get some suggestions out there for the OP. Sorry for the derail.
 

Samsonet

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Have you read the Mysterious Benedict Society? The titular Benedict is a middle-aged man who expressly sought out unattended children and is dearly loved by the protagonists. (I think it works because the protagonists are a group of kids rather than a singular one.) It might be worth a try to see how the author takes on a situation that might be problematic and makes it work.
 

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