Early Trollhood

 

Records and Observations Assembled

by Grandpa Carl

Of the generations since my Great great great great great Grandfather Bernt, there have been three other Master Trollologist including myself, four when you count my grandson.  Each one of these contributed observations and notes that have been passed down to me and since then to my grandson who is following in my footsteps.  The other day we were talking over at the Trollshop and our good friend Anders asked if anyone had ever written a simple guide to how trolls grow up and mature.  My grandson looked at me and I shook my head and that was the start of this composition.

Starting with Grandfather Bernt’s oral histories we moved down through the generations searching the oral and written records until we had a good idea of the various steps young trolls pass through on the road to adulthood.  Finally we took this information to our good friend Maas, our family house troll,  who helped clarify some of the finer details.  We have complied this data in the following general guide as to how young trolls are raised and trained to take their place in the wonderful and mysterious world of trolls.   Please bear in mind that there are likely exceptions to all these guidelines due to tribal and other customs but as a rule most trolls follow this pattern in the care and training of their children.

Trolls are usually viewed as solitary beings who avoid civilization and humans as a matter of nature.  For the most part this is true and this is why so little is known about troll families and troll children.  It is generally known that troll families have a father and a mother and these produce children.  One thing that is not generally known is that there are rarely more than two children at any given time and to date no one has been able to find out why.  Speculation is that troll children often require one on one training and so the number of children is kept deliberately low.   Trolls are, for the most part, monogamous and once paired they will produce several ‘sets’ of children during their lifetimes. If a spouse does die or is killed or turns to stone the survivor will usually take another mate.  Troll parents raise their children to an average age of twenty-three (20 to 25 years old depending on the child and their choices) following a distinct pattern of 10 phases or steps which are based on  mental,  physical and emotional development.   During this time Trolls do take time alone and after the ‘youngest’ child moves into adulthood around 25 years old,  the parents will often take time alone, sometimes for years, until they join again to start a ‘new family’.  There is no information about how these periods of separation are determined but our guess is that it is simply up to the couple.  When the couple does join again the couple will stay together until the last child is reared.  If no children are forthcoming after a year or two than they may or may not go wondering again.  Conception seals the couple as virtually inseparable for the duration (inseparable being defined as rarely more that 200 km away.)

The gestation or pregnancy period for a troll is between eleven and eleven and a half months depending on the type of troll, traditional, longtail or other.  The average birth weight ranges between 8 and 11 kilograms and range in length from a quarter and a half meter.   They are almost always born with lots of hair and their tails are usually short and tuffed with a bit of hair which Maas suggested tickled the mother’s fancy. (Okay, he did not say that but he grinned when my grandson mentioned the possibility.)

 Troll children follow a fairly standard series of stages which last until they are between 20 to 25 years old when they generally enter the ‘adult’ world.  We have never been able to determine an average life span for a troll so we cannot guess how long ‘adulthood’ is but we know of many who have lived over 200 years and a few that have reached 400 years old.  One of my ancestors named Peter said he met a troll who claimed to be over 800 years old, some legends gathered by Norse historians make it sound like they can even live longer than that so at this point it is anyone’s guess as to how long a troll can live if left unmolested.

The childhood phases of most Trolls breakdown, generally, as the following:  Birth to 100 days, 101 days to 6 months, 6 months to a year, 1 to 2 years, 2 to 4 years, 4 to 8 years, 9 to 12 years, 13 to15 years, 16 to 18 years and 19 to 25 years.  Through these phases troll children learn survival and other skills (including a bit of ‘troll magic’) that will help them become a successful part of one of the most mysterious and hidden societies on the planet Earth.

PHASE 1: Birth to 100 days.  If troll mother’s nurse it has never been witnessed or documented and not one troll we asked would address the question.   Troll infants are fed pulped plants and grasses mixed in water.  The food is delivered by a cup or bowl which the mother pours it carefully into her child’s mouth.  Over the next few weeks the mixture is thickened and by 80 days they are beginning to add tubers, roots and nuts all pulped or powered and mixed in water.  Infants are carried in a sling sack over the parents shoulder or simply in one of the large hands some trolls have.  Troll infants do not cry but whine and scream to make their wants known.

PHASE 2: 101 days to 6 months.  The food gets coarser and dryer but remains pulpy in nature.  Teething starts and parents start giving their children soft bugs or larva and the occasional over- ripe berry.  Cooked, fresh  meat is introduced to the diet and is pre-chewed by one of the parents. Children are able to cling to parents hair and clothes and the ‘sack’ is discarded. Crying and whining start to be replaced by grunts and other vocal noises.  Food is in a bowl and some children start to feed themselves.

PHASE 3: 6 months to 1 year:   Food for the infant is gummed and chewed by the child and they are often given barkless sticks to chewed.  This helps to strengthen their jaws and toughen the inside of their mouths.  Meat becomes part of most meals and is still pre-chewed occasionally some raw fresh meat is added in and some braver parents will even start to slip in carrion and spoiled (by human standards) meats.  Some crunch is added in the form of insects like beetles and grasshoppers.  Children start to walk and to climb up slightly slanted surfaces.  They start to learn to follow their parents by holding onto the tail.  A child’s night or dark vision starts to develop at this stage.  Their bodies can self heal at about three quarters the speed adults do.

PHASE 4: 1 to 2 years old.  This is perhaps the most difficult of ages for small trolls when the are the brattiest.  It is at this stage when tantrums are still thrown and discipline is the most difficult that some young troll couples (or some much older couples) wonder why they had children and in their foolishness they have been known to switch their child for that of a human not realizing just how hard it is to care for a human child.  By now the child stands between two-thirds and three-quarters of a meter tall and their noses are much too large for their face.   During this stage the variety of ‘more natural meats’ (raw and spoiled) are used and the pre chewing is cut back’ with small chunks of ‘natural items’ (vegetable and meat) given for the child to devour. They are by now feeding themselves.   Children can now walk and follow their parents using the tail and visual means.  They can climb up rough sloped surfaces and may be able to go up a vertical surface with lots of hand and foot holds.    They start to learn how to blend into their surroundings but holding still is a big problem.

PHASE 5: 2 to 4 years.  A troll child’s food continues to get rougher and dryer and meatier in a steady fashion.  Food is rarely pre-chewed after age 2.  Children feed themselves completely and may even search out some of their own food such as larva and insects even though they catch few of those.  Troll children by the end of this phase can walk and climb most surfaces and some are learning to lope and even to run.  They can now blend into most stone settings and are learning to hide in the shadows.  Parents start to leave the child on their own for part of the day so they can hunt or gather as needed.  Parents give their children strict charges as to what to do knowing that most of them will be ignored and children will learn some valuable lessons the hard way as a result. (Nobody knows exactly what was meant by this but it was expressed by one of the trolls Grandpa Bernt met while living on his farm).  Night or dark vision is now fully developed.

PHASE 6: 4 to 8 years.  Children at this age start to learn the basics of gathering, scavenging and hunting.  By the end of this period children are able to provide for themselves and many have had their first kill of a sick or injured animal larger than a fox.   They are able to tell edible or salvageable carrion.  They are able to do so much on their own and could survive if need be.  Some of the harder lessons are now learned and young trolls start to be more teachable and obedient if they survived to this point.  This is the period when young trolls start to learn how to do some ‘troll magic’ such as how to use ‘magic’ to enhance their abilities to hide and conceal.  A particularly adept child may start to learn how to cure inedible meat in emergencies.  They also start to learn to eat raw meat.  They also start to learn conservation techniques and how to use all of a body.

PHASE 7: 8 to 12 years.  This is a very intense time of training for young trolls.  During this time they become accomplished hunters and gatherers.  They learn to communicate with nature and with animals and they start to learn the rudiments of several animal languages.  They have lessons in herbology and forestry.  They learn that it is better to preserve when they can.  Magic lessons favor animal communication and silent movement along with continued more advanced lessons in previously learned/taught  skills. 

PHASE 8: 12 to 15 years.  This age serves as a kind of apprenticeship for young trolls during which they put into practice most of what they have learned in order to refine and enhance their skills.  Under the direction of a select group of trolls the youth finally start to understand a trolls role in nature.  To the young trolls ‘Magic’ becomes a tool and a way of life that surrounds and enhances all existence.    At the end of this period they are given their first test.  There is no record as to what this test entails but those who pass move on while the few who do not pass have another year to five years of training.

PHASE 9: 15 to 18 years.  Trade training and apprenticeships occur.  A young troll, male or female, choose from a wide range of life’s pursuits ranging from farmer to stone polisher to minor to weather prediction and more.  Magic training reaches its peek not only for survival but as it applies to the trade they have chosen.  Trolls will work in their field for the next hundred or so years after which they either train others or go afield spreading out over the land to do what they can for nature.  Some become watchers of the humans while others help the various animal species to survive.  A few start to learn the healing arts but it is rare to start this young but it does occur.  The final ‘test of life’ is given at the end of this period and if a young troll does not pass it is unknown what happens.

PHASE 10: 19 to 25 years.  Journeyman level training occurs.  Courting starts for many and about a third are ‘united/married’ by the end of this phase.  The children move out on their own and the parents consider their duty done.  Family relations beyond this point are more as equals than as parent and child.  Equal care is given by ‘each to each’ as circumstances dictate.  There is only one ‘surprise’ left in this period and that is who the healers will choose to join their ranks.  There are no limitations as to who can be chosen as a ‘healer’ regardless of what has gone before.  If one is chosen as a healer, by tradition, one does not refuse.  Healers go off and start a training program that can last 20 to 50 years.

Over the years that troll and human kind have interacted very little has changed in the world of trolls except that as the humans have modernized, trolls have retreated into nature and thus into myth.  Trolls would have it no other way and if there have been changes in these ‘phases’ humans will probably be the last to know.  Even those humans who have regular contact with a house or other kind of troll, know better than to pry because, for the most part, trolls will not talk (anymore) about things that might lead humans to find them.  It is nice to know, however, that there are trolls out there doing what they do best, growing up, learning about nature and doing their best to keep it safe and secure for generations yet to come.