ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the September 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] sweet_sparrow, [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] readera, [personal profile] gingicat, [personal profile] ari_the_dodecahedron, and [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "vampires" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.


"Learning and Growing"


Victor and Igor go to the market
with Adam balanced on their hips,
trading him back and forth.

It isn't always obvious why
Adam wants to ride on one father
or the other at any given moment, or
what drives him to squirm down
in pursuit of someone else.

"Ah, he never holds still
for long now," Igor says.

Victor doesn't care. He's just
glad to see his son happy.

Family has always baffled Victor,
growing up in the wrong body
and the wrong role with parents
who understood none of it.

He wasn't expecting to find
Igor, let alone Adam, but
here they both are, and
his life is the better for it.

So Victor lets Adam romp
around the market, and lets
Igor spend too long dithering over
whether or not to make a purchase
that they can certainly afford.

Victor doesn't understand family
very much yet, but he's learning.

When Adam scampers away
with Igor in close pursuit, then
Victor pauses to rest where
Kálmán the village priest is
sitting on the stone bench
between the village well
and the water garden.

A dozen children cluster
around Kálmán's feet, listening
to the priest telling a story.

As Kálmán spins out a tale
about a mustard seed and how
nobody notices it growing except God,
Victor realizes that Kálmán is teaching
the children the virtue of attentiveness, and it
isn't as different from scientific observation
as he once might have believed.

After the story concludes, Victor
tries to slip away quietly, but
Kálmán catches him anyway.

Victor winces in anticipation of
a lecture, the bane of his childhood,
but Kálmán just pats his shoulder and says,
"It's so good to see you listening, my son.
It sets a good example for the children."

He isn't used to think of a priest
in those terms, but he can't deny that
he feels a certain paternal concern
for the children of his village.

Victor doesn't understand family
very much yet, but he's learning.

He catches up to Igor where
Adam is wheedling his way
into Dorottya's bodice
for a drink of milk.

Victor is infinitely grateful
that she is so generous with
the milk that was really meant
for her own daughter Fruszina,
because Adam deserves to have
at least a milk-mother to replace
the one who died before he was made.

Dorottya is affectionate and patient
with Adam as her husband Dénes
cuddles both them and Igor.

It's strange to see them
so comfortable with each other.

Victor grew up in a house where
people rarely touched anyone else.
He hated it, but he couldn't do
anything about it at the time.

Now there are all kinds of people
to cuddle with, including villagers
and werewolves and even a vampire,
all of whom seem to consider him
kin of one kind or another.

Victor doesn't understand family
very much yet, but he's learning.

When Csilla arrives, Dorottya gives her
a wink and an invitation to join them
in bed that night for a feeding.

"Not tonight, I'm afraid, or for
a long time to come," Csilla says,
shaking her head. "But congratulations."

"Why not?" Dorottya says, baffled.

"You don't know yet?" Csilla says, then
leans over to whisper in Dorottya's ear.

Dorottya squeals in glee. "Are you sure?"
she says. "I thought maybe, but I
wasn't certain about it yet."

"I'm sure," the vampire says.
"I can smell your body changing."

"We're having a baby!" Dorottya crows,
flinging her arms around her husband.
"Oh, but I'm going to miss you, Csilla."

"We can do other things for a while,"
the vampire assures her, and Dénes adds,
"Don't worry, Csilla, I'll still feed you."

Dorottya gently pries Adam off her breast.
"That's enough, darling, you and Fruszina
have to be weaned now. I will need
all my strength for the new baby."

Naturally Adam kicks up a fuss.

"Don't be greedy," Victor says.
"We've imposed enough on
Dorottya's generosity already."

"It's no imposition," Dorottya says.
"I'm treating him just like my own.
Speaking of which, come along,
Adam. Let's go shopping."

The toddler keeps on fussing until
Dorottya directs him to pick out
a new cup and bowl from the potter.

Adam chooses a beautiful blue set
with ducks on them. The bowl is
thick enough not to tip easily, and
the cup has two handles.

Dorottya pays the potter and
then hands the items to Adam.
"Now this will be your cup, and
I will no longer be your cup,"
she says. "Next year, you will
have a new little milk-sibling
to play with. Won't that be nice?"

"Uh huh," Adam says, charmed
by the ducks to the point of
ignoring everything else.

Victor doesn't understand family
very much yet, but he's learning,
and now it's growing.

* * *

Notes:

See the stone bench, village well, and village water garden.

Attentiveness is a virtue which can be taught. The Parable of the Mustard Seed is a good starting point.

Breastfeeding is best for mother and baby whenever feasible. (It isn't always, so it's good to have other options.) Historically, it was almost universal. An experienced mother or a lactation consultant can teach you things like how to hold your baby, how to latch on, and how to break the seal when you need to remove the baby from your breast.

Ideally, the time to wean an infant is when the breast milk dries up, or at least substantially diminishes. Baby mammals customarily begin sampling adult food before they are weaned, and the more of that they eat, the less milk they want, so the supply wanes. A human mother's milk typically lasts 2-4 years if she is well fed. Historically, babies were often weaned around 2-3 years, but if the food supply was iffy, mothers often stretched the milk as long as it would go in hopes of boosting survival. On the other hand, breastfeeding reduces (but does not eliminate) the chance of pregnancy. A woman who gets pregnant typically weans her previous infant, even if the milk doesn't dry up immediately. The modern American custom of criticizing women for breastfeeding more than 6 months is ridiculous. Are your tits still lactating? If so, it is reasonable to continue breastfeeding if you and your child wish. There are tips for gradual and cold-turkey weaning of toddlers.

Milk kinship is created when a woman nurses a baby she didn't give birth to. In some cultures it's common among sisters or best friends; in others, it's more often a hired wet-nurse. Dorottya is neither, but in a village, some women are just generous that way. So Dorottya is Adam's milk-mother and Fruszina is his milk-sister. Among children, the relationship is similar to that of cousins.

In some cultures, it is customary for a mother to give her child a special cup at weaning time. This helps distract from and compensate for the loss of breast milk. For toddlers, you can pitch it as growing up, which is something they usually desire very much.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-19 05:14 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Awwww! And yay! and much goodness here. Welcome back, Frankensteins and company!

YES! FAMILY means learning!

Date: 2017-09-19 06:39 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Poor Victor, so surprised by things I would consider perfectly normal kindnesses. It makes me want to shout at his parents, frankly!

Adam is so completely TWO... it's hilarious!

It's wonderful that Denes and Dorottya's family is expanding-- giving Adam more milk-family, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-19 07:57 pm (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
II'ma needto go back and read more of this series because *eats up* :d :) This was awesome.

-Fallon~

huzzah!

Date: 2017-09-19 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
YAY someone being SENSIBLE about breastfeeding!

Re: huzzah!

Date: 2017-09-20 08:41 am (UTC)
kelly_holden: A Yahoo! avatar edited to look more like me. Pudgy, freckly, blue-green eyes, long brown hair. (me)
From: [personal profile] kelly_holden
My half-sibling M weaned themself when our mother was pregnant with K. Perhaps the supply dried or it tasted different, but Mum didn't want to wean them, as K is only 13 months younger than M, and I'm pretty sure in Australia the recommendation is till 12 months. K, on the other hand, breastfed until she was capable of asking verbally for a "boobie", though I don't remember her actual age.

Re: huzzah!

Date: 2017-09-21 10:18 pm (UTC)
thnidu: edited from img383.imageshack.us/img383/3066/ss35450qf7.jpg (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
One of our kids (I forget which one) did that. One day sucked for a bit, then pulled off and said "No more." And that was that.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-20 01:51 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is charming and heart-warming, and yay for teaching the kids attentiveness! Aww, all of this was so darn cute! -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-21 10:16 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Enthusiastically seconded!

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