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How To Care For Your New Changeling

By Mallory Ortberg

“A changeling is the offspring of a fairy, troll, or elf that has been secretly left in the place of a human child. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to the child who was taken. The apparent changeling could also be a stock or fetch, an enchanted piece of wood that would soon appear to grow sick and die.

A human child might be taken due to many factors: to act as a servant, the love of a human child, or malice. In some rare cases, the very elderly of the Fairy people are exchanged in the place of a human baby, and then the old fairy can live in comfort, being coddled by its human parents. Simple charms, such as an inverted coat or open iron scissors left where the child sleeps, were thought to ward them off; other measures included a constant watch over the child.”

So your newborn human baby has been stolen and exchanged for a changeling child! Congratulations, and also my deepest sympathies. You have a difficult road ahead of you, full of challenges but also rewards. I won’t pretend that parenting a changeling is easy — it isn’t — but it can be incredibly meaningful to look into a pair of unearthly blue, too-large eyes and know that the Unseelie Court has chosen you to care for a creature older than time itself. Here are some tips on handling your new elfin-charge without angering its invisible parents.

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