SO YOU’VE DECIDED TO ADOPT A ZEPTONIAN BABY!
Whether you are adopting by chance because you found the smoking crater on your property or whether you volunteered for the Zeptonian Childcare Service, congratulations and thank you! There is no more rewarding choice you will make in your lifetime.
But keep in mind that the #1 mistake that adoptive parents of Zeptonians make is thinking too far ahead. There are a lot of years before your little one will be a fully functioning adult to prove that you deserve the ten million dollar reward. If the new addition to your family is a toddler or older then take a moment to thank your predecessors in turn, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to raise your child, even though everything they gave was ultimately not enough.
But don’t worry! You’re not alone!
WHY ARE THEY HERE ON EARTH?
No one knows why Zeptonian babies started falling from the sky thirty years ago. It happens in waves, a shower of them hitting the planet every three years. No Zeptonian ships have been found.
WHEN CAN I BRING MY CHILD TO ANTARCTICA?
Any honest parent will admit that there are times when they fantasize about throwing in the towel no matter what benefits and joys they would be giving up, and this is even more true for parents of Zeptonians. When a temper tantrum over an unpurchased candy can level a city block, it’s hard to stay the course.
But remember that although the Zeptonian staff of the Antarctic Orphanage Facility (the first generation of Zeptonian immigrants all grown up!) are superpowered, they are still human, so to speak. They still need sleep, and already they are outnumbered four to one by their charges. Sending a child to Antarctica is a last resort, only used if no adoptive parents can be found for the child. While it’s possible that your child may one day move to Antarctica, it will only happen if you have passed away and no other volunteer can be found. So, best to focus on the task in front of you!
Much of the information you’ll find in classic baby books doesn’t apply when it comes to Zeptonian children. Your baby is not a vulnerable and fragile creature. Remember the smoking crater where your bundle of joy first made landfall. Remember that not only did that little creature survive atmospheric entry, and the impact with the ground with nary a bruise, he or she also lived naked in the vacuum of space for months. Nothing in our solar system except the core of the sun itself is going to harm your little guy. You don’t need to worry about that.
You should, however, shut off electrical service to your home, in case your little one sticks his finger in a socket. Imagine a human toddler who has just drunk a can of Mountain Dew. Now imagine that toddler being strong enough to punch through the wall of a bank vault. Now imagine him in your nursery. You get the idea.
To prepare for teething, you should contact your local scrapyard. Steel girders make the perfect teething toy for a Zeptonian. Do not under any circumstances put your finger in your baby’s mouth. Your health insurance will not cover medical expenses related to fingers bitten off by Zeptonian children.
As soon as you possibly can, you should register your child’s location with FEMA’s Zeptonian Tantrum division. They will give you a phone number to call when your baby starts to get out of control. This will ensure that you and your neighbors can be evacuated in an expedient manner. Giving your child a time out when he gets worked up is the number one way to teach him a lesson as well as to prolong your own survival. FEMA will return you to your home free of charge as soon as seismic activity abates so that you can scoop up your little quakemaker and wipe away her tears.
The implant at the base of your neck serves two important purposes. First, if you become separated from your child for more than a day, this will allow him to be returned to you.
Second, in the event of your tragic death, emergency evacuation of the area will automatically occur, as well as notification of the next adoptive parents. Tampering will only expedite this course of action.
Simple statements like “We don’t knock down buildings” or “a military base is not a playset” will help your child learn the boundaries he will need to get through life.
If you don’t take every available opportunity to teach, then your child will establish whatever values are convenient to her. This is how child supervillain groups like Gimme Gimme get started. We are fortunate that they were gullible enough to be convinced that the core of the sun was made of candy or we might be living under their despotic rule even today.
If you’re feeling like you can’t cope with another day with your superpowered dynamo, if you’re having trouble keeping up with the little one while wearing numerous splints and casts, if your child is holding a city hostage until you buy him that new gaming system, then it may be time to call for some temporary help from the Super Au Pair service in Antarctica. For a fee we’ll help you get your child under control and, more importantly, understand why she’s acting that way in the first place.
IT’S ALL WORTH IT
Despite everything that came before, the scariest moment comes at the end of the child’s custody with you. Behind the face of the young man or woman you will always see your sweet baby. You will pray for time to slow, but time will race on unheeding. Your sweet baby will say goodbye and hug you and then she will lift into the air for the first time. You will experience joy and helplessness commingled as she tests her newfound freedom and then flies off with a whoosh. You can’t protect her from the world, and you can’t protect the world from her. You’ve done everything you can now. The rest is up to her.
David Steffen is a software engineer, writer, editor of Diabolical Plots, and data administrator of the Submission Grinder. His fiction has been published in Escape Pod, Daily Science Fiction, and AE. You can find him on Twitter as @diabolicalplots. This story was previously published on Podcastle.