• Published 1st Jul 2014
  • 3,107 Views, 359 Comments

Foal Fever - Distaff Pope

With a filly on the way, Vinyl's started dreaming about her glory days as Equestria's premier DJ. A mysterious potion offers her a chance to feel young again, and with Vinyl's youth restored, Octavia's pregnancy is suddenly a lot

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13. Parental Bonding (Octavia)

I trotted quickly (well, as quickly as I could) through the Ponyville Market and headed towards our old house. Unless I had horribly misread the situation, Vinyl and I were finally coming to something of an understanding. Unfortunately, that understanding involved me doing rather a lot of bending over backwards to please her while she just promised not to throw another one of her fits. If I was going to spend at least a few weeks dealing with her like this, I would need advice, and that meant going to the two ponies in Equestria who knew more about Vinyl than I did. I knocked on the door to our old house and waited for it to open.

“Oh, hello Octavia, what brings you here today?” a yellow unicorn stallion with an orange mane slowly going grey said. “And where is Vinyl?”

“She’s actually the reason for my visit, Mr. Fixit. You see, she did something rather… foalish a few days ago and has now regressed back to having both the body and mentality of a teenager.”

Fixit blinked at me and gestured for me to come inside, his sense of incredulity having burnt out shortly after our wedding. “I see, well then, come in. I suppose you have a few questions for us.”

“That would be an understatement,” I said as I walked into our old house, now owned by Vinyl’s parents.

“Can I get you something to eat or drink? Mattie is out shopping right now, so we’re a bit low on food.” Mattie, properly Matryoshka, was Vinyl’s mother; her parents hailed from Stalliongrad, but she had been born in Fillydelphia. “She’ll probably have a bit more to say on teenaged Vinyl than I do, since she did most of the raising while I was travelling for work, but what did you want to know? Also, just to make sure, this isn’t some joke Vinyl put you up to, is it?” he asked, looking like it was more out of habit than any belief that this was a joke.

“I’m fine, thank you, and no, it’s not a joke” I said taking a seat on their couch and giving a sigh. “I just want to know how you dealt with her. The last few days have been… trying.”

He nodded at me. “Yep, you’re definitely telling the truth because that’s the same look Mattie would have whenever I’d come back from one of my trips. Did she try running off to Canterlot already?”

I nodded. “A common occurrence with her, I take it?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe. She’d sneak off to Manehattan or Fillydelphia occasionally, but Canterlot was always her favorite place. She says it has the best nightlife.” Fixit shrugged at that. “We punished her of course, but whenever she got an itch to go to Canterlot, she’d go to Canterlot. When Vinyl was younger, it was hard to stop her from doing something she’d set her mind on.”

“I’ve noticed,” I said, laughing to myself as he took a seat on one of the seating cushions. “Sunday night we had a fight and she decided to just head to Canterlot. Monday night, I found her and dragged her back home. She’s been calmer since then.”

“Of course she has, I bet she had a big show in Canterlot, right?” Fixit said.

I nodded.

“See, the thing about Vinyl is… well, you already know she’s pretty temperamental. We were happy when you showed up and mellowed her out–”

“I really didn’t do that much for her, she did more to calm me down than I her.”

“Maybe,” he said before getting back on his hooves. “I’m going to have a coffee, you sure you don’t want some?”

“If you are offering, I suppose I will have a cup,” I said, hefting myself back up on my hooves to follow him.

“Tavi, sit down. You shouldn’t be on your hooves right now. I’m surprised the doctor hasn’t put you on bed rest.”

Giving a sigh, I carefully lowered myself back on the couch.“I’m glad he hasn’t; there has been far too much for me to do these last few days, and most of it has involved your daughter.”

“Well,” he said from the kitchen, “that’s all the more reason that you should rest now that Vinyl isn’t acting up. Now, how did we deal with Vinyl…” He muttered to himself for a few minutes as I heard the familiar sound of coffee pouring. “What worked best with her was open dialogue and reasonable punishments when she did something bad.”

“Like running away to Canterlot?” I asked as he walked back into the kitchen, two mugs of freshly poured coffee floating next to him.

“Sometimes,” he said as I grabbed a mug with my hooves. “After a year or two though we eventually reached a compromise. She’d let us know a few weeks in advance, save up enough bits for a hotel room, and make sure that her visit didn’t interfere with school. If she did all that, then everything would be fine. If she didn’t, then yes, we’d have to ground her for a few weeks.” He sighed. “Those were not fun weeks for us. If I was home, we would take shifts sleeping so one of us could keep an eye on Vinyl at all times. If not, well… I don’t really know what Mattie did then. Thankfully, Vinyl stopped trying to sneak out as much once we told her our deal and she got a part-time job at the record store.”

“So then what should I do?” I asked. “Just let her run off to Canterlot whenever she wants? Because when she ran away two days ago, she almost slept with another mare, so the idea of letting her do that again makes me rather uncomfortable.”

“That does put a wrinkle in things,” he said, nodding as he took a sip of his coffee while I found my mind turning back to how I could continue a relationship with a teenager. “Well, don’t give in to all of her demands, that won’t be good – but whenever we helped her with something that was important to her, she was usually pretty agreeable. You know, tit-for-tat.”

“So you’re suggesting I help her with… something, so she will stop acting up?”

“It worked for us,” he said. “Like I said, don’t give her everything she wants, but with Vinyl, it’s a give and take.” He furrowed his brow. “This sounds like we are terrible parents, doesn’t it?”

“Considering the pony you are talking to, no,” I said, smiling at my father-in-law. “Believe me when I say I’ve dealt with worse.”

“Oh yeah,” Fixit said, nodding his head. “Your parents… I guess they sat on the opposite end of the spectrum from us. Look, just… all I’m trying to say is that rewarding Vinyl for behaving worked a lot better than punishing her. Punishing her just made her act worse.”

“Positive reinforcement,” I said, recalling the term I had encountered several times in my parenting as I took another sip of coffee. I had originally dismissed it as “soft” parenting, but the arguments the writers laid out had slowly increased my opinion of it. “That’s what works best with Vinyl?”

“I think it works best with most ponies, but Vinyl is particularly resistant to attempted punishments, as she views any attempted punishment as a call to war, and she can be particularly stubborn when she sets her mind to it.”

“Believe me, I know,” I said, sighing. “Can I just… Would it be possible for me to vent my frustrations to you for a bit? The past few days have been trying, to say the least, and I don’t know what to do. The mare I loved has suddenly turned into a petulant child, and I can still see the Vinyl I know in there every now and then, but there is just so much in her I don’t recognize anymore.” I found myself wiping away a tear as I spoke.

Fixit nodded, content to let me continue venting. “She wants to continue our relationship, and a part of me does too. Is that wrong? Does it make me a bad pony for wanting to sleep with a mare who looks like a teenager? It’s not because she looks like a teenager though, it’s because she’s my wife, and even if she’s being a royal pain right now, I still want to be with her. Of course, the simplest thing would be if she could just go back to normal, but that’s not even a possibility until Lyra finishes her work on potion analysis, and so what am I supposed to do until then? Our entire relationship feels like it’s been thrown off balance, and I’m struggling to right it,” I finished, giving another massive sigh for good measure.

“Have lunch with us,” Fixit said after a pause before gesturing for me to come into the kitchen. “Mattie should be home any minute now, so we can have some sandwiches and talk things out. We can’t help you with your relationship problems beyond telling you to do what you feel is right, but we can certainly tell you more about Vinyl. Worst-case scenario, you can blackmail her into doing your bidding by threatening to make some of her baby photos public.”

“You just said punishment won’t work on teenaged Vinyl,” I said, following him before taking a seat at the table.

“True,” he said as he finished his coffee with a gulp and moved to the kitchen counter, “but all teenagers fear being humiliated. Of course, I’d still try to avoid resorting to blackmail unless you absolutely have to.”

“Agreed, blackmailing my wife into behaving seems like the type of thing prone to backfiring and leading to the terribly sad breakup bit in romances that are so terribly contrived. I’m glad my courtship with Vinyl lacked anything like that.”

Fixit just stared at me, blinking occasionally while I processed what I had said. “My apologies, I still have problems remembering that my life isn’t a story, despite constant reminders by Vinyl to the contrary.”

“Pie gene problems?” he asked, clearing the table as the front door opened.

“I suppose so. Strange that there is a genetic condition that makes a pony think of their life as a story. It reeks of narrative convenience…” I trailed off realizing what I had just said. “I mean, it seems rather implausible.”

The door to the house opened and Vinyl’s mother walked in, levitating several grocery bags behind her.“Oh, hello Octavia, what brings you here today?” Mattie said upon seeing me, her voice as upbeat as ever.

“Vinyl regressed to being a teenager and I’m trying to learn how best to deal with her,” I said, nodding my head at the white unicorn as she entered the kitchen. Her hair had gone grey faster than Fixit’s, and she seemed quite happy to keep it that way.

“That… sounds like quite the problem,” she said, taking a seat at the kitchen table next to me. “Well, we will be happy to tell you what we can, but first would you care for some lunch?” As she spoke, she floated her groceries to the kitchen counter. “We can talk while we eat. I have quite a few stories to tell you.”

The rest of the afternoon was filled with sandwiches and long conversations about Vinyl’s more… let’s call it “combative” phases. I’ll admit it wasn’t the best news I’d heard, but any information that helped me deal with Vinyl’s next fit was of immeasurable value. I sighed as I slowly walked home. Hopefully Vinyl hadn’t tried to escape again in my absence.