Special Heritage




"Jonathan, do you think we could apply basic childcare to an alien baby?"

Jonathan Kent rubbed his chin, the rasp of his whiskers providing a welcome distraction to the problem before him, mainly the three-or-four year old scooting on his bare bottom on the kitchen floor. Nothing they had fit the little tyke and he'd somehow discarded Jonathan's oldest flannel shirt and the equally ancient undershirt that had served as a diaper. They would have been more worried about bruising or splinters if he hadn't broken a pair of scissors by jabbing them in his foot.

"He took to formula well enough," said Jonathan.

It took all of Martha's strength to keep from rolling her eyes. "That's just the thing. Babies shouldn't like bovine formula. It should upset his digestive system and give him the runs."

"What do you want me to say? We're lucky he eats at all instead of... I don't know photosynthesizing."

The baby-- more of a toddler really-- grabbed a porcelain hula dancer, sniffed it heavily then happily crunched the little painted figurine between his chubby cheeks. He cooed a few liquid, nasal syllables as he chewed.

"I hope he's not asking for more," said Martha.

"At least now we know what to do with all the knick knacks my cousins sends us," Jonathan said.

"I did hate that figurine," Martha admitted. "But that's beside the point. We can hide his eating habits by claiming allergies but once he goes to school, how are we going to explain this?"

"This" was the little boy's genitalia. If the spaceship in the storm cellar wasn't enough proof of the child's... origins, his anatomy clinched it.

Jonathan rubbed his neck. "I don't see what's wrong with it."

"Don't see-- Jonathan, he has retractable testicles!"

"Human testes do that."

"Human testes aren't cone-shaped. Human testes don't come individually wrapped in their own scrotal sacs. Human testes do not number four!" Martha put her hands on her hips. "Don't you dare smile like you had anything to do with that."

But Jonathan couldn't stop grinning. "Might explain why he can lift a truck."

Martha threw her hands up. "Men and their packages."

"A father can't be proud of his son's accomplishments?"

As though understanding Jonathan's words, the little boy jumped off the couch and toddled to the nearest pot of begonias where he squatted and voided his bladder, blissful relief plain on his face.

"Martha, two of his testicles are retracting."

"Thank goodness! That solves one prob-- wait, they're coming out agai-- now, the other two are retracting. I wonder if he can control it."

"He'd better learn if he wants to use public urinals," said Jonathan. "Maybe we can get a doctor to sew them together."

Martha frowned. "I don't know. He seems too little to undergo surgery."

The force of the baby's bodily function tipped the begonias over.

"Then again, maybe not. Why are you snickering?" asked Martha.

"I was just remembering Leslie Ross' story about how Peter managed to... urinate all over her face one time she changed his diaper. Can you imagine if that stream hit your face?"

"It would be like getting a garden hose in the face and don't you even think about laughing out loud, Jonathan, you are going to the next church social in a suit, I swear on my soul."

"Oh, Martha, I can't help it. He's just so... gifted."

"As a woman, if I ever saw four testicles and a-- let's see, accounting for adult growth and any other, uh, growth-- Jonathan, this boy could have a foot long penis as an adult!"

It couldn't be helped. Jonathan collapsed, howling and clutching his stomach as laughter pelted out.

Martha tapped a foot on the floor.

"I'm sorry, dear," he said, wiping his eyes. "But of all the problems we're going to face-- the forged papers, the spaceship, the superstrength-- I can't help but wonder why you're worried about his genitals."

Sighing, Martha admitted, "I don't know why either. Do you think we're doing the right thing?"

Jonathan squeezed her shoulders. "What do you mean?"

"What if we can't take care of him properly? What if he gets sick or worse because we don't have the right things to feed him? I mean, it could be the pigment in the hula dancer, not the porcelain. What if we poison him because we're trying to get him to eat his spinach?"

The lines bracketing Jonathan's frown deepened. "Are you saying you don't want to keep him after all?"

She bit her lip. "I want him more than anything. He's so precious; I can tell even though we've only had him for a week. But I also want what's best for him."

As one, they turned their heads to watch the boy. He'd finished his business and was now tiptoeing around some of the fallen begonia petals. With one deep pink lip protruding in a pout, he tried to press the petals back on its denuded stem. When that failed, he inspected the petals themselves but his still-clumsy fingers and his strength turned them into red smears.

The baby's lip trembled. Arms outstretched, he called out to the two adult humans. "Taya? Taya? Yana?"

"Is he asking for us?" asked Jonathan.

Martha threw him an upset look over her shoulder; she was already at the baby's side. "Of course he's calling us." she said, lifting he boy in her arms. "He's probably afraid that he'll get into trouble for making a mess, aren't you, darling?"

The baby sat stiff in her arms for a second, studying her face with brilliant blue eyes. Then he tucked his head in the crook of her neck and mumbled, "Yana," sleepily into her shoulder. "My yana."

"What do you think that means?" asked Martha.

"Well, he's hugging you, isn't he?" Jonathan shrugged. "I figure, it means 'mom'."

Martha's eyes went bright and she covered the boy's head with kisses. She was never going to let the boy go now, Jonathan reflected. Not that he minded, really.

"I bet 'taya' means, dad," she said.

This time, she didn't comment on the face-splitting grin on Jonathan's face. "Dad," he said softly. "I could get used to that." Then, in a more serious tone: "I'm going to have to teach him to pee."

Author's Note: I made up the words taya and yana because I couldn't find the translations on the words on any Kryptonese-English online dictionaries. However, since then Darren Doyle has created a wonderful Kryptonian Language site. The Kryptonian for "father" and "mother" are ukuhr (00k-ur) and ieiu (yay-yoo).

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