Telepathic Growing Pains

So, back to regular postings. As you can see, I’ve done the tags down the side of the page. I’ve tried to keep them relatively uniform and also funny, so they have something a little extra. So for example if you want to look at where I dealt with the short story “Gift Wrap” this is the tag you click: gift wrap or dick ina box If you want to see what I have to say about Sam, then click this one: sam merlotte bfzoned4eva. It may not be perfect indexing, but it’s close enough. Click on various tags to see how you go. I had a good time writing them, and that’s what matters. It’s like a quick blurb on what I think about a particular incident too: love for bill – definitely dead – see for the book, but definitely relevant to the book contents. There’s even a Spike (BTVS) reference in there too.

This post is about Hunter, but also about Sookie. Hunter is pretty interesting as a character, mainly because he encourages Sookie to talk about her own childhood related to telepathy, and we experience that looking at Hunter. We find out what it’s like to be a young telepath because not only do we have Hunter’s experience, but we have Sookie reflecting on Hunter’s experience with her own tales.

A critical part of what we find out from Hunter is that just because you’re a child doesn’t mean people will go easy on you. I actually already knew that – and I’m sure others have heard the widespread tales of horror about some kid with ADHD or autism – this is where you find out that people aren’t kinder to children with problems – they’re often more punitive. So too it is with Hunter:

“I understand that Kristen Duchesne thought there was something
wrong with Hunter. She told everyone that.”

Dead Reckoning, p. 171

Having a name to put to a disability doesn’t make people nicer – again – I named two disabilities above, and that didn’t make people kinder, right? It didn’t make people kinder here or here or here. People attack and victimise kids with disabilities all the time. In fact, people are less likely to do anything about it because of the mantra that “all kids will tease”, so kids with disabilities are expected to just take it, despite getting more than their fair share. In fact, Sookie tells us more than once that she experienced very bad times not in spite of her telepathy, but by using it:

I was so nervous when I went to the table (knowing to expect something, but
not knowing exactly what) that I was beyond getting angry and into the
realm of tears. It reminded me of the less sophisticated tormenting
I’d taken when I was in grade school.

Dead Until Dark, p. 117

So kids knew Sookie was a telepath, and used that to tease her without saying a word. If someone complains to the teacher a child is being attacked? You can probably do something about that. But complaining to your teacher that kids are thinking nasty things? That’ll go down like a lead balloon. Few will care, people will ask you to prove it, and then they’ll be able to do a sum total of nothing about it. Oh, except make sure that kid is targeted again for being a taddle-tale.

Think about how much sympathy there is for Sookie as an adult in the fandom – think about the time and trouble the average canon writer takes concentrating on Sookie’s telepathy – the disability that has shaped every reaction for her whole life. Think about how often that’s discussed in a forum setting. It’s usually completely disregarded, or she’s jeered at because she just doesn’t have as much social interaction as others – her wants for contact with anyone but Eric is just sidelined. It’s often just brushed under the carpet as inconsequential too – like something that shaped her life just doesn’t matter and she’s being a total pussy about it. If she just dealt with it ABC way, it’d be no problem. These are real life issues for disabled people. The same “gift” that lead her to being teased as a child and used as an adult by vampires. In fact, Sookie has had the rug pulled from under her so often, she’s used to being betrayed.

This is Hunter’s future. And there’s not a thing Sookie can do to change any of it. She keeps being nice, and people keep being cruel to her. And look at how much this fandom proves her right. You can find all manner of warbling about what a hard life any of the male vampires have had (because they’re men, and thus important, I suspect) but you rarely find much attention paid to the very short, hard life of Sookie Stackhouse. No, that’s where people want to heap more responsibility, more hatred, less understanding on her. She gets tortured, and it’s all about how that made Eric feel, and how to apportion blame to her. She gets bitten hard, and she’s at fault. What’s even worse is that if Sookie were in the same world with this fandom, she’d hear it without anyone having to say it out loud. What a “gift”.

In fact, there’s a whole heap of nastiness that Sookie gets from people – much the same as there is relish for her punishment in the fandom – she gets a pipeline and a statistic on that one:

For another thing, though my feelings were a matter of indifference to almost
ninety percent of the bar’s patrons, the other ten percent were watching like
hawks to see if Bill’s date was making me suffer. Some of them would be
glad to see it, and some wouldn’t – but it was no one’s business, either way.

Dead as a Doornail, pp. 175-176

Much like I’ve discussed the Sookie haters who relish her bad treatment, they exist in the realistic world in the books. See, they exist in the books and in real life. They love it when bad things happen to people, and relish in it. They don’t stop because you have issues, and they don’t stop because you’re five years old. This is what Hunter will have to deal with when he grows up – and Sookie’s already been through it. Just like regular people with disabilities have to deal with it all of their lives.

One of the things that always sort of flabbergasted me was the absolute rage that came out about Hunter and Sookie – that Sookie should have been teaching Hunter more than just manners, and a whole heap of contempt for what Sookie did for him. I don’t know what sort of five year olds these people know, but they’re not known for their brilliant ability to learn things Sookie finds difficult. There’s a seeming misconception that Sookie’s telepathy is completely under her control and not a pain in the arse. Despite quotes like this:

I try not to listen in, but I’m like a radio that picks up a lot of signals. Some days, I can control my reception a lot better than other days. Today, I kept picking up snippets.
Dracula Night, A Touch of Dead, p. 46

If Sookie’s telepathy was completely in her control, and no problem to deal with after a little mental exercise, that doesn’t actually explain why she’s still dating shifters, weres and vampires. That’s why she dates them – because touch sends human thoughts slamming into her head. If it was easy to keep her head closed, then she’d be around a lot more humans. They wouldn’t think she’s a little weird, and she’d marry a human guy. She’s found a better way to cope, and she’s a bit stronger, but that doesn’t translate to no problems.

Even at the height of the time that Sookie was training with Bill, she didn’t have it completely handled all the time. There seems to be a misconception that “putting up her shields” is like something that’s piss easy to do, and almost like “trees up, trees down”. That having her shields up means she can concentrate now on something else. Except that it’s not – it means she has to focus on maintaining a shield and having a conversation or taking orders in the bar. If you believe it’s that easy, then for the next 2 hours, I want you to envision just a simple brick wall in your mind every single moment, but also do other things. Do it now while you’re reading, and see how “easy” that shit is. Oh – and every time you relax and let that brick wall go, you don’t get to concentrate more easily – then imagine say ten people in a room talking to you simultaneously. Take special note of the weird looks people give you if you get into a conversation and seem distracted, and thus weird to them.

So Sookie can’t give a five year old something she doesn’t have. Shields work to keep you looking mostly sane, but they really don’t work at all. It’s why she has only a few close friends – namely Tara and JB who are supernaturally influence free – and apart from her work, doesn’t really interact with humans. All of the rest of her friends and the people she socialises with are supes. Sookie can’t give Hunter a magic bullet to solve his problems. She can only teach him to hold it in as much as possible.

Since Hunter is five then any mental exercises she gave him would be out the window. If you have – or have had – an available five year old, see how eager they are to do things like brush their teeth. Or how well they do it. I don’t know about other countries, but here dentists recommend that you brush kids’ teeth for them for the first six years, and supervise them until they’re seven. The idea that Sookie could come visit Hunter, teach him some mental exercises, and then go away? Huh. He’d maybe do them for two nights, and then skive off. It’s what children do.

Yes, Sookie trained with Bill, and he taught her how to use her telepathy better and get it working for vampire use. But one of the primary things Bill (and lately Eric) have done is to give Sookie blood – and that’s what’s helped with her telepathy:

I laughed. I realized that my guard had slid into place easily,
that it didn’t have to be a painful process.

Dead Until Dark, p. 212

This is after she’s had two doses of blood from Bill, and one from Longshadow. It stopped being painful to protect her thoughts. So it’s not as if a little vampire blood is enough to just make all your problems go away. Vampire blood isn’t a cure-all for all problems – and it’s temporary. Vampire blood wears off – even if the bonds don’t, the effects do:

The effects of my last infusion of vampire blood had worn off, and
I was my regular human self.

<snip>
Not only was I back at average stamina for a fit woman in her twenties,
my looks were back to normal; no vampire-blood enhancement.

Dead as a Doornail, p. 28

It’s not a one dose panacea. It’s something you have to keep doped up on to continue working. So shields helped or not, Sookie doesn’t treat her vampire beaus like gumball machines, and thus, it wears off after a time and her shields are back to relative normal. In fact, it also requires exercises to maintain control, even if you’ve added a dose of Eric’s blood on top of that:

Obviously I wasn’t shielding myself hard enough. Bill had made me
practice, and now that I didn’t see him anymore, I was getting sloppy.

Dead to the World, p. 95

So practising every single day is what does it – and even a woman in her twenties doesn’t do it to the highest standard. You can’t lie to a telepathic five year old. They’ll find out – they can read your thoughts. Even if they don’t find out that you’re lying, then they’re still highly unlikely to keep up practice because they’re five. Nor does being bonded to a vampire, taking Eric’s blood make telepathy a doddle – it’s still unpredictable:

But I didn’t have any superpowers or any supernatural powers, or any kind of
power at all. All that I had that was mine was my unpredictable ability to read
minds and my unexpected strength and quickness, which came from taking
the occasional sip of Eric.

Small Town Wedding, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 18

As for vampire blood being the solution to all of Hunter’s problems? There seems to be this attitude that Sookie should be fine with it, and it’s her decision to make. Uh, no, it fucking well isn’t. Hadley quite deliberately kept her son secret from vampires. She didn’t go see him, she didn’t do more than have a lock of his baby hair – in a safety deposit box – no names, no nothing. His own mother knew a vampire, was a vampire, and still kept him from vampires. I don’t know how anyone could construe that to her being fine if her cousin brings her son into contact with vampires.

Even if one argues that Hadley is not a good mother, or not a real mother, it’s still not Sookie’s decision to make. That’s up to Remy. If you think he’s willing to abdicate any responsibility to Sookie, think again:

“I’m Hadley’s cousin. I just found out where you were.”
“You can’t have any claim on him,” said the man, keeping a very tight rein on his voice.

From Dead to Worse, p. 298

He sounds like to me a man desperately loving his son and not wanting to lose him, even if he is a little weird. Remy should be the one to make decisions for his son. He is the parent who has him full time, and provides for all his needs, loves him and cares for him. At the very least he needs to know Sookie’s reasoning – but then it is his decision to make. She can’t tell him half the story and then get his acquiescence. Full disclosure is the only way to go.

One of the other themes in fanfiction seems to be that because raising a telepath is difficult, that means that Remy is soon to abandon his son. Or any complaint about him means that he’s ready to ditch Hunter with Sookie and fuck off. That’s nice and convenient to the story – giving Eric and Sookie a child without having to go the fertile vampire route. Except that when you have a child with a disability – like telepathy actually is – then you actually do feel harassed and harried at times, find it difficult to cope, yet that does not translate into giving that kid away.

I can understand that Remy might need to vent a little and admit he’s worn thin by Hunter’s telepathy. That’s actually normal. It’s not normal to be all perky as if nothing is wrong – that’s better known as denial. And even if Hunter reads that from his father’s head, that will just be something he’ll have to live with, like he’ll have to live with porn pop-ups or violent fantasies from random people on the street. I know which one is more damaging, and it’s not Remy’s occasional thoughts of how hard it is to cope. Think about your own thoughts about the people you love – would you inflict only loving thoughts, or do you sometimes get pissed off and exasperated with them? There’s a reason Sookie calls it a curse. Because it is one.

So even if he’s not the perfect paragon of right-thinking parenting that could ever be portrayed by Hollywood doesn’t mean that he will soon ditch his kid. Just because once a month he thinks about getting Sookie to babysit…huh…many parents have their kids babysat on a weekly basis and get away from them to decompress – even Dr. Phil. As a result, Remy is the primary caregiver, and his wishes should always supersede Sookie’s. He doesn’t get shut out of that scenario because he happens to be a mere human. He should be a well-informed mere human in that case, who makes decisions about his son’s involvement with vampires. So before Sookie took it into her head to tell Eric about Hunter, she should rightfully tell Remy first. Hunter isn’t her child to give to vampires for safe-keeping.

In fact, Sookie has definite ideas about what she wants for Hunter, and it’s not to have vampires being his best mates:

I wanted Hunter to grow up as normally as possible. The more supes who knew about Hunter, the higher the likelihood someone would snatch him away because telepaths were useful. There was sure to be someone ruthless enough to take such a terrible action.
Dead Reckoning, p. 163

Sookie’s fairy relations got out, right? Bill’s database got out, right? The more supes know about it, the more likely they are to let slip. It’s actually better for Sookie to keep it secret so Eric doesn’t slip under torture or distraction. And I’m not so sure if the choice was dying or using Hunter, Eric wouldn’t go for that.

I would wonder that Sookie would want to train Hunter on how to be a spy. With any luck, he can stay secret at least until he’s legal age, and the vampires can try to use him at that stage, rather than training up a five year old to serve their needs. I don’t know that it’s inherently sensible to train him to be a brilliant spy at extracting information when he’s five years old. That’s what Bill was getting her to practice on doing. Yes, it may have served Sookie better, but Bill was also there to make sure vampires used her. He certainly didn’t make out like Sookie was olly-olly-oxenfree even after Eric broke his word:

“You promised Eric you’d help him again,” Bill reminded me.
“If he turned the thief over to the police,” I said.
“And what did Eric do? He staked him!”
“Possibly saving your life in the process.”
“Well I found his thief!”
“Sookie, you don’t know much about the world.”
I stared at him, surprised. “I guess that’s so.”
“Things don’t turn out…even.”

Dead Until Dark, p. 225

Bill could have fought harder to get Sookie out from under Eric, but he knew Sookie working for vampires was a foregone conclusion, because Sophie Anne sent him there. So instead, while helping Sookie, he also trained her to be an effective interrogator with these techniques:

Instead of trying to avoid using my telepathy, I’d been trying to develop it, with
Bill’s encouragement. The human staff at Fangtasia had acted as guinea pigs.

Living Dead in Dallas, pp. 90-91

This is not just Bill helping her deal – this is Bill making her a better tool for vampires. And the same would go for Hunter. Sookie wouldn’t be teaching him to be his own person – she’d be training him up as a ready-made spy for the strongest supe. That would just create more of a demand for his services from vampires.

Hunter may decide, differently to Sookie that he doesn’t want any part of illegal things. Sookie puts up with the law breaking of the vampires because she doesn’t want to leave Louisiana and get whisked around the world, used by the government. She doesn’t want to come out. Vampires aren’t her only option – there’s the FBI for a start. So it would not in fact do Hunter any favours to train him up for vampire use – or give him to Eric and allow Eric to “mine” him. It would limit Hunter’s choices, and that’s pretty frowned upon generally for children – taking away their choice to make different decisions.

After all, Sookie didn’t like bringing Barry into the whole vampire dealio. Unlike True Blood, Sookie didn’t immediately try to get Barry to work for vampires or advocate vampires in any way. She had a very clear idea of what his rights were to his own telepathy:

He couldn’t control himself at all, and his shields were a shambles. He was heavy into denial. I didn’t know whether to grab him and hug him, or smack him upside the head. Then I realized his secret was not mine to give away.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 76

I personally would have thought she was a fool to just tell the nearest vampire that Barry was an asset to be owned. After all, he’d soon be having his own meeting with Stan, much like her meeting with Eric. I should also point out that Barry must have had his own meeting with Stan, but he didn’t make the deal that Sookie did. And as a result – it cost a lot of people their lives:

“Yes, I wish I’d said something before I did,” he said in a choked voice. “Yes,
I did the wrong thing. But I thought if I spoke up before I knew something for
sure, the vamps would fall on them and drain them. Or they’d want me to point
out who knew and who didn’t. And I couldn’t do that.”

All Together Dead, p. 307

Barry is often held up as an example of how much money Sookie could be making – but I notice that he’s moved away from his own home, and works all the time in the train of a vampire. And he’s still fearful that against his wishes, a whole heap of humans will be killed at his design. Barry doesn’t want to be the vampires paid executioner – or even their paid condemner. He doesn’t want to have a bunch of people killed at his behest, and he doesn’t want to listen to their screaming heads as the vampires pluck out the ‘wrongdoers’ to have at them. Barry, unlike Sookie, traded peace of mind for money.

When it comes down to it, Sookie’s sorry to have to resort to getting Barry to help her too:

It’s okay, I understand, I told him. I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t going to be killed.
Living Dead in Dallas,
p. 163

So it’s only under threat of death that she contacts Barry and the vampires find out about him. From that point on, Barry is in the same position as Sookie was – I doubt that the vampires of Dallas would have given him a choice about working for them any more than Eric gave Sookie a choice. In fanfic, vampires are often leering, violent caricatures. But they’re not really like that – they’re not quite so blunt. Like Eric they think about threatening those you love – they don’t get you into an armlock and chuck you in a dungeon. They’re trying to keep it quiet they have the perfect spy, and keep said spy happy so she’ll continue working.

The minute that Sookie signs Hunter up for the vampire world, she’s signing him up for a meeting like that. She’s reducing his choices, and anticipating his future. Without asking his father, Remy, or without really thinking about what different choices Hunter might make. Since Hunter is in Eric’s area, then the only vampire in the political structure he needs to worry about is Eric. He’s in a small town, which means that like Sookie, a vampire would be more likely to find out about Hunter and be sent specifically for him. He’s not likely to have a vampire neighbour:

There was even less to Red Ditch than there was to Bon Temps, and that’s saying something.
From Dead to Worse, p. 297

A vampire probably wouldn’t live in a tiny little town and hear about Hunter organically – just like the vampires in Shreveport didn’t hear about Sookie. Until Bill came to Bon Temps, the town was vampire free. And Bill didn’t come just by chance – it was because Hadley went to New Orleans and told a vampire. If Sookie’s learnt anything, it’s that what one vampire knows, soon becomes common property amongst them. It may have been as Mr. Cataliades said:

It was only a matter of time before a vampire came into the bar and saw you.
Dead Reckoning, p. 316

But anyone in a bar is over legal age. They’re not some seven year old who’s been common knowledge amongst vampires for the past two years because all of Eric’s fellow vampires barring Pam are spies. Vampires are unlikely to go to a little school somewhere and test all the kids. There’s no real reason to go searching for a needle in a haystack, and they can’t do that in Eric’s Area without checking in.

Not to mention, knowing about Hunter – and all the other vampires finding out about Hunter – would probably put a giant target on Eric’s back. As I’ve pointed out before, Sookie is one hell of a valuable commodity. Even if that’s not why Freyda wants Eric, the same points still stand. Imagine the shitstorm that would rain down on Eric if other vampires found out he had two telepaths. Yeah. See Eric? See Eric with a target on his back because he’s a force to be reckoned with? See Eric fight? See Eric die? I would say that that’s part of the reason that Victor feared Eric – he’s strong, he’s powerful, his wife is his own personal spy. I mean, Victor did try to get her dead. It wasn’t just to hurt Eric – it was also to remove his own personal asset.

If one of the vampire royalty put pressure on Eric, then he’d have to find a way to keep both his telepaths, and he has a difficult enough time keeping Sookie. Felipe worked out how to turn a favour for Sookie saving his life into something where Eric was forced to marry her to keep her in Louisiana. He couldn’t possibly keep up that balancing act of keeping Sookie with him, and watching all those who have their eyes on Hunter as well.  Bringing Hunter into Eric’s cadre of assets would put way more pressure on him – two descendants of Niall Brigant’s with telepathy? Some vampire would decide Eric is too much of a threat and kill him.

But let’s for a moment make believe that this wouldn’t put Eric in more danger. That everybody is really scared of Eric, his great peen and his wonderful Viking sword he’s had since he was a kid, and that he’s the oldest vampire who ever existed and the best fighter known to man and vampire. That means that Hunter has to come to live with either Sookie or Eric in order to be protected. Let’s make believe Remy goes from “You can’t have my kid” to “Take him, Mr. Vampire”.

Hunter is a child, who is just starting school. That means that every single week day, he has to be at school at 9am or thereabouts (country differences here) and stay until the afternoon. Maybe Sookie could sleep during that time, during the day. Oh, but then at night, she’s got to stay home and take care of Hunter. Bonus! I hear you say. Much boning will ensue!…Um, not with a telepath in the house. Not with a telepath who needs dinner, and after school play time, and friends over, and all the telepath training he’ll be getting. That’d be a quick fire way to give him porn popups of his own:

“You can’t concentrate on being comfortable with a guy, or getting a head
of steam up, when you can hear they’re wondering if you dye your hair, or
thinking that your butt’s not pretty, or imagining what your boobs look like.”

Dead Until Dark, p. 33

If Sookie could keep her shields up during sex, and didn’t have to relax completely to have good sex, then Hunter’s getting a broadcast of that. Not to mention that waiting until he’s asleep? Well, then that’s about 7pm – behold Fangtasia’s opening hours:

The Shreveport vampire bar would be opening late tonight.
<snip>
WE’LL BE READY TO GREET YOU WITH A BITE TONIGHT, AT
EIGHT O’CLOCK. PLEASE EXCUSE OUR DELAYED OPENING.

All Together Dead, p. 1

So Eric would be at work. Sookie can’t go to work with him – Hunter has to get a good night’s sleep, and you can’t leave children alone, even when they’re sleeping. So Sookie’s got about six hours to stare at the wall until Eric gets home. She can’t work. Then Eric gets home at probably 2am. Cue to boning, and then Sookie has to wait from sunrise – 6am – until Hunter is awake and gets breakfast. Then off to school and Sookie to sleep. Sookie has zero social life, and only Hunter as her contact. Eric can’t use her telepathy any more, because she’s at home with the kid. He can tell her all the tales of what life outside house drudgery is for the next ten years.

That’s of course, when life is calm and ordinary. Not when everything is going wrong. Which is pretty much a sure thing when it comes to Sookie’s life, and Eric’s too. So far, Eric has had witches trying to get into his house:

“They can’t get into his daytime resting place to find a hair or clothes that bear his scent.”
Dead to the World, p. 47

and his place has been a crime scene:

“Part of a vampire left over here,” Jason called. “Looks like the rest has flaked away.”
Dead in the Family, p. 296

and people have been watching his house to attack visitors:

“I guess you-all have someone watching Eric’s house.”
“We do.”

Dead in the Family, p. 89

When next there’s a killing spree or a violent war at Sookie and Eric’s (every second Friday of every third month) what the hell are they going to do with Hunter? Traumatise the kid by making him witness all this stuff? Assassins don’t wait for Sookie to arrange to have the kid babysat. It works out far better if she has to concentrate on taking care of someone else, rather than fighting for her own life. And Eric now has to split his attention three ways – one to himself, one to Sookie, one to Hunter. At the moment, Eric doesn’t concentrate on what’s going on with Sookie though:

…and I threw myself away from the body just in time to dodge a blow from the bartender, Jock. He had excellent survival instincts, going after human women instead of vampires.
Dead Reckoning, p. 294

That’s all changed now – nice and fatally for Eric the vampire. He’s got to make sure some child makes it through the battle, when said child is unlikely to defend himself. And when some vampires actively target those easy to kill, like Jock above. Or like Victor targeted Chico’s mother. And if you think Sookie was disgusted by the death and violence, wait until you see a five year old rocking in a corner because his new Daddy sometimes eats people.

So even though the simplest answer is that Hunter is an insert for Sookie to co-opt a child without having to do any work, and they’ll be at the cute, potty trained stages, the logistics are a nightmare. There’s a clear choice – Eric or Hunter, because she can’t have them both at the same time. And, frankly, I highly doubt Eric would give her up. He’s no martyr. Smiling at a child in Sookie’s house is not gushing Daddy Eric. That’s someone who’s not Frankenstein’s monster. A smile is not a playdate, and this is the same man who said:

“Eric,” she said, “maybe someday one of the waitresses will get
pregnant, and we can go to a baby shower!”
“That would be something to see,” said Eric, lifting his
golden head from the papers on his desk.

All Together Dead, p. 4

Saying it’s something to see is not synonymous with wanting to go to parties with little booties. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone but Dermot willing to go to a baby shower. No, Eric is referring to a delicious shower of babies – like a shower of gummi bears. He said something similar on True Blood with the teacup humans and their deliciousness. They’re excited over the prospect of eating children – so not your standard parenting fodder. Eric might have been a Dad a millennia ago, but I don’t think he’s willing to trade in his Corvette for a minivan, his bar in for a teaching job and politics for The Lion King.

I don’t see Hunter coming to live with Sookie because his father doesn’t want him – unless Hunter is the sneaky life companion and trumps Eric for that spot. Really, there’s way too many assassins in Sookie’s life for that, and it is Hotel California for Sookie in the supe world. And I don’t think Sookie would want that. She dreams of children, but the reality is very different when it’s real children:

But tonight, after the unusual stresses and strains of Hunter care,
what I’d wanted (again, excuse me) to tell him about the
body-in-the-woods crisis and then have a good long screw.

Dead in the Family, p. 153

Real children are exhausting. Real children with disabilities are more exhausting. It’s not some dog-in-a-handbag situation where you bring them out to grin at Eric and play wrestle on the floor, be adorable for a few minutes, and then they go to their room for the other 23 hours of the day to do kid stuff. They ask for food all the time, and annoyingly want to go to the toilet and the like. They need attention, and you just can’t find people who will devote 23 hours to your kid. Nannies like things days off and holidays. Even if you were to find someone fine for a telepath, they especially like their own life, just like Sookie would.

Hunter is going to be there for occasional kid spots – Sookie will be a courtesy Aunt to him and to Tara’s babies, coming in the new book. She’ll do all the fun stuff and then send them home before the dangerous stuff comes up. Not leave them in the house so she can deal with a C-O-R-P-S-E while they eat dinner. That’s not healthy – you don’t deal with dead bodies and assassins and also babysit your children at the same time. That’s not better than a Remy who sometimes thinks thoughts about how he’s overwhelmed. Hunter isn’t going to become the surrogate kid, abandoned by not only his mother, but then his father – he’d end up way more fucked up under that scenario than Sookie is currently. Remy will be his Gran, not Sookie, who has her own problems and a dangerous lifestyle. That’s not his purpose as a character.

Hunter’s also a device to looking back into Sookie’s past – what she had to put up with for a long time, since so many readers seem to miss or disregard it. Every trial Hunter goes through, Sookie explores the multi-dimensional problem of what a disability did to her life and what it does to the lives of everyday disabled people. How it limits them, how they are disregarded, how they have to hide their problems sometimes to protect themselves.  It’s not easy going through telepathic growing pains.

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