November 12, 2018


The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children


They're not pets, they're not a different race. You've got to take into consideration their future and what's good for them, or some shaman might have a talk with you.

There are always trade-offs, I guess. The last week on the road would have been longer and harder if I didn't have the horse, but without a saddle, I've grown so itchy and smelly from riding the thing I can hardly stand not to shout advice to myself about animals and wealth. You see, if I didn't have 500 pieces of ill-gotten (sort of ill-gotten) gold, I wouldn't need either the horse to carry it or the huge bunches of dried herbs to disguise it. And the horse does not like the smell of the herb valerian. I guess I can't blame him, it tends to smell like old rancid pissy things, but there's nothing like valerian for good sleep and sore muscles.

We finally reached the citadel of Great Well, a walled city on the eastern side of the mountains, on an arm that rises high above and perpendicular to the range. The alignment is significant mostly in that the rains still brush over Great Well, making it livable, whereas the rest of the range on the eastern side is quite dry, the clouds sailing too high above it. It's a nice city, aware of its duty to provide water (there are 30 reservoirs within the walls), and well-disposed towards travelers, being a kind of rest stop for a lot of peoples.

With only damned gold pieces as currency, I had no choice but to go to the best inn, where the resources to change them were available. The Commodious Inn was what the weathered, engraved letters said, but painted over them in red paint was "Commie's." Okay, I thought, and went in and sat at the very nice bar: leather seats on the barstools, a clean brass rail for the feet, and a cool marble slab to lean on. I had a gold piece to set on the bar to excuse my travel worn condition.

The bartender came over, looked at the gold, and said, "What'll it be, Shaman?"

"What's the weekly rate for a room, bath every day, and stabling for a horse?"

"One of these every tenday," he said.

"Good enough, and since it's Twosday, let's add a beer to that to start. And some pretzels. And mozzarella sticks."

Supplied with beer and pretzels, I looked around the bar at the patrons. Locals in evening-decent clothes, a couple lizard-men in the corner plotting something stupid, an elf-lord checking his watch every few seconds, and peeking at me around the raucous conversation of some armored warriors was a familiar face. I waved to the face to come join me, as there were empty seats on either side.

"Dan Ur-Jennan! Well met, how have you been?" I gave her a quick squeeze and she wrinkled her nose.

"You stink, Aser, when did you stop bathing?"

"Thanks, I'm making arrangements now. I thought you were in Barcelona, Danner?"

"Ahh, I got into some heat there. You wouldn't believe some of the shit that goes down as a matter of course these days. I was in this apothecary's waiting room to make a sale of herbs, and in walks this burgher's wife with two little teeny fat kids."

"You didn't tell her they were Teeny Fat Kids," I asked -- ahh, not asked, as I suspected that I already knew the answer.

"Well, not right off. There were a lot of people in the waiting room and so it was a long time that we were there." Danner paused for a lengthy pull on her stein. "The whole time I was there, those kids were cramming their mouths with candy, those chewy ugly red gummy globs (remind me of rats' eyes) and chewing and chewing and rattling the paper the candies came in and chewing -- and chewing! FOR ABOUT FORTY MINUTES!!! Their eyes were vacant! All they were doing was chomping on CANDY!"

"Shh, easy there, Danner. You can't make everybody smart in one day." An old platitude of our clan.

"Well, I lost it. I said, 'You trying to kill these kids? Then get the feedbags off their faces, or at least teach 'em to chew with their mouths closed!!!' And then she jumps up with her hands clutching her bosoms, indignant as hell. 'How dare you criticize my children?' she says. I reply, courteously, I swear, 'I'm not criticizing infants, I'm advising their stupid mother! Stop ruining your kids' lives!'

"The fat, pasty-looking kids just watched us and crammed more candies in, their eyes bulging. I swear, if you took their blood pressure with all that garbage going into their bodies they would have shown up as Stage 3 Hypertension. Then some skinny jackass stands up and comes forward and says he's from the Elves Civil Liberties Union, and would she like him to represent her in a class action suit, so I kicked him in the elf-parts and left town. Aser, what the hell else was I supposed to do? Just be quiet and let that woman poison her kids?"

Well, Danner had followed in the footsteps with the Ur-Jennans and the Elves as though it were some contractual agreement. "Danner, our job is to cry outrage when we see it. You're not a shaman to make people feel comfortable with everything they do. There's no good way to tell someone they're doing a bad job of raising kids. If you figure you have to tell them what is wrong, then you have to accept the need to move on when you've done the outrage thing and they take it poorly."

And you know, they always do. Nowadays people seem to have this idea that children are some separate species that has to have special treatment, special food, special entertainment. Somewhere along the line a lot of parents are forgetting that their offspring are immature adults, trying their darnedest to mature. Instead of helping them reach their real goal, they mire them in kiddy stuff, and then are surprised when the children toss the kiddy toys and sprout whiskers and breasts and jump into the adult world with all the sense the Life that Guides the World gave a little six-year-old, because they haven't been expected to mature mentally. Why didn't that dumb mama just teach her kids to sit still quietly, or TALK to them instead of bribing/drugging/indulging them with sugar?

Personally, I think its bad habits picked up from elves, who have about 50 years to figure things out before they're considered adults. Humans, though their parents hate to admit it, only have about twelve to fourteen. You just can't take too much time in teaching the little tykes about living in the real world.

"Hey," Danner said, as the sizzling mozzarella sticks were put on the bar. "What kind of herbs have you been selling lately to be able to eat like this?"

"I'll make you a deal. You can have half the cheese for the name of a reputable banker who won't blab about clients."

"Deal. Sonofabitch, those are hot!" Restraint is not one of Danner's virtues.

Wish I could have been there.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-04-09

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In the same series:

The Accursed
The Aser Stories: Sidelong
The Aser Stories 80: Cabin Fever
The Aser Stories 79: Just Don't Say It Before Spring
The Aser Stories 78: Judgment Call
The Aser Stories 77: "Are We There Yet?"
The Aser Stories 76: A Bone to Pick
The Aser Stories 75: Coalition Forces
The Aser Stories 74: Flying Monkeys
The Aser Stories 73: Elspeth, Ad Nauseam
The Aser Stories 072: Starve a Cold
The Aser Stories 071: House Call
The Aser Stories 70: Dinner Dates
The Aser Stories 69: Fire in the Hole
The Aser Stories 68: The Silk Fable
The Aser Stories 67: The Simple Life
The Aser Stories 66: For What You're Worth
The Aser Stories 65: Taking a Shot
The Aser Stories 64: Second Chances
The Aser Stories 63: The Second Step
The Aser Stories 63: Second Thoughts
The Aser Stories 60: Fish Story
The Aser Stories 59: Ace in the Hole
The Aser Stories 58: Knowledge is Power
The Aser Stories 57: Animal Tracks
The Aser Stories 56: Oz Can Keep Them All
The Aser Stories 55: Small Comfort
The Aser Stories 54: Letting Go
The Aser Stories 53: In a Spirit of Healing
The Aser Stories 52: Stinkin' Kids
The Aser Stories 51: No Words For It
The Aser Stories 50: The Friend in Need
The Aser Stories 49: Run for Cover
The Aser Stories 48: On the Fly
The Aser Stories 47: Just Thievery
The Aser Stories 46: Take My Shaman ... Please
The Aser Stories 45: Hot Stuff
The Aser Stories 44: Courtesy Call
The Aser Stories 43: Adding Insult to Injury
The Aser Stories 42: Natural Selection
The Aser Stories 41: Funny Business
The Aser Stories 40: Happy Endings
The Aser Stories 39: Working Dogs
The Aser Stories 38: Taking Sides
The Aser Stories 37: Dumb Animals
The Aser Stories 36: Harsh Words
The Aser Stories 35: Endangered Species
The Aser Stories 34: Common Language
The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture
The Aser Stories 32: Whose Fault Is It?
The Aser Stories 31: Money Talks
The Aser Stories 30: The Perils of Sympathy
The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons
The Aser Stories 28: The Ghost of Garfer Miller
The Aser Stories 27: Dynamite
The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail
The Aser Stories 25: Rose-Covered Cottages
The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment
The Aser Stories 23: Image Is Everything
The Aser Stories 22: Is As Does
The Aser Stories 21: Gourmet Dining
The Aser Stories 20: Families and How They Are
The Aser Stories 19: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Aser Stories 18: On a Silver Platter
The Aser Stories 17: Point of View
The Aser Stories 16: Easy Street
The Aser Stories 15: Moguls
The Aser Stories 14: A Mile Toward Change
The Aser Stories 13: The Price of Freedom
The Aser Stories 12: A Question of Nudity
The Aser Stories 11: Rabbit From a Hat
The Aser Stories 10: Awards
The Aser Stories 09: On A Roll
The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children
The Aser Stories 07: Crosspasses Market
The Aser Stories 06: Judge, Jury, Shaman
The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness
The Aser Stories 04: The Wrong Question
The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love
The Aser Stories 02: Soup du Jour
The Aser Stories 01: Popping the Big Question
The Aser Stories 40a: Customary Behavior
The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love
The Aser Stories 03a: Descent to the Underworld

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