Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features a lost toddler and a panicking mother. Everything turns out fine. However, parents or people with navigational challenges may find this stressful. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"Fears You Didn't Know Existed"
At first, Groundhog couldn't make out
the words in the panicky call. "Please
take a deep breath, slow down, and
repeat that," he coached.
"This is Irie Rudimon," the woman said.
"I think my son Kenny is missing, he's
been flickering and I've searched
everywhere and I can't find him."
"Okay, thank you for calling SPOON,"
Groundhog said as he tapped into the files.
Kenny Rudimon popped up as a toddler who
had flickered through several innocuous talents.
"I'll contact a teleporter and a tracker, and send them
right over. They should reach you within five minutes.
Please stay on the line with me while we fix this."
"Thank you. Thank you," said Irie.
"I know how to handle kids, but
I don't know how to handle this."
"You're doing fine," Groundhog soothed,
sending the relevant messages. "You've
called for help and we'll get you through this.
My coworker Ninepin says that being a mother
is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had,
and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed."
Irie gave a ragged laugh. "You said it."
"While we're waiting for our team to arrive,
let's get you calmed down some," Groundhog said.
"Find a safe place to sit. Put your feet flat on the floor.
Put your hands on your thighs. Breathe from your belly.
When you're relaxed, it will be easier to talk with
the guys when they get there, and find Kenny."
"Like meditating," Irie said. "Okay.
I'm not great at it, but I can do some."
"Exactly like meditating," Groundhog said,
grateful that she was settling down.
"Oh! They're here," Irie said.
Groundhog activated the channel
so that he could hear Afton on the right
and Irie on the left. "Afton, report," he said.
"I've got a heartbeat!" Afton replied,
so brightly that Groundhog could
hear the grin in his voice.
"Keep talking," Groundhog said.
"It's slow and steady, for a toddler,
I think he may have fallen asleep
somewhere," Afton said. Footsteps
echoed on hardwood as he walked.
"Yes, he does that," Irie said.
"Kenny is always getting lost or
tucking himself into odd places,
but I really did look everywhere."
A door creaked. "He's right here,
in the closet," Afton said.
"Where?!" Irie said. "It's empty."
"Mommy, look, I'm all clear!"
a child's voice piped.
"Apparently he's invisible,"
Afton said. Fabric rustled.
"Here, you take him now."
Irie started crying, likely
out of sheer relief.
"That's wonderful," Groundhog said.
"Good job, Afton. Keep me posted."
"Mommy, am I weird?" Kenny said.
"No, sweetie, you just learned a new trick,
like how you figured out lacing cards
last week," Irie said gently.
Kenny squealed with excitement.
"It's just ... what do I do now?"
Irie said. "I feel so lost."
Groundhog pulled up a list of
recommendations for parents of
superkids. "You might consider trying
a toddler harness or beeper to help you
keep track of Kenny," he suggested.
"Oh, that's a good idea,"
Irie said. She sniffled, but
seemed to have the tears
back under control now.
"They'll be fine," Afton said.
"I can take it from here. I'll go over
the safety tips for Invisibility and
give Irie some family resources.
Log me on client assistance,
and I'll call you back when
I'm ready to leave here."
"Logged, and thank you for
taking care of this, Afton,"
said Groundhog. "Irie, I'll
let you go now so that Afton
can teach you and Kenny
how to handle Invisibility."
He closed both lines,
logged Afton's status, and
marked the call a success.
"I love my job," Groundhog said.
* * *
Irie Rudimon -- She has golden-fair skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and straight black hair to her chin. Her heritage is mixed Asian and American. She worked in daycare before starting her own family, and currently stays home with her toddler. She is pregnant again but not showing yet. She loves hunting Book Crossing releases, and spends plenty of time exploring Onion City with her son.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Book Crossing Fan, Good (+2) Dealing with Children, Good (+2) Gentle, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Anxiety
Ken "Kenny" Rudimon -- He has pale skin, almond-shaped blue eyes, and short blond hair. His heritage is mostly American with a little Asian. He has been flickering, and just manifested Invisibility but with no control.
Origin: He has Super-Immunity from the Aegis vaccine. Other superpowers are flickering now.
Uniform: Play clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Inquisitive, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Inadvertent Stealth Mode
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity
Poor (-2) Invisibility
Motivation: Run and find out!
Afton Forestron -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair with a mustache and beard. He works as a ranger for the Onion City park service, also volunteering with the Activity Scouts and SPOON. His abilities stack beautifully to make him an outstanding tracker.
Origin: As a boy, Afton was bitten by some unknown pest at summer camp. He got sick enough that he had to go home early, which really upset him. After that, he developed superpowers.
Uniform: On duty, he wears the Onion City SPOON uniform of a navy blue shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in silver on the chest pocket. Off duty, he wears outdoorsy clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Activity Scout Leader, Good (+2) Optimist, Good (+2) Physically Fit
Poor (-2) Allergic to Synthetics
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Senses
Motivation: To teach people about nature.
* * *
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”
— Linda Wooten, writer
Parents naturally worry about losing track of their kids. There are ways to prevent kids from getting lost and cope with them getting lost. However, these are for ordinary kids. I can tell you from personal experience, they are nearly useless for metaphysical things like drifting out of phase with consensus reality.
It is possible to hear a smile over the phone.
Lacing cards have holes for toddlers to thread a string through. You can buy them or make your own. Here are some printable lacing cards.
Toddler harnesses have pros and cons. For special needs families, a harness can be a lifesaver. (I wish something like this had been around when I was growing up. It would've saved me many lectures and my parents many near-heart attacks.) A vest-style harness is more comfortable and secure than a strap-style harness. A front pocket provides a place to store a toy, ID card, beeper, or other stuff. This pattern for a homemade harness doesn't have a front pocket, but it's easy to add one.
Tracking devices meant to find lost items can sound an audible alarm, or give a silent signal that may be located with a smartphone. This is a safe way to find someone who can't be seen, but could be heard.