Bill: So-cratz – “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing”.
Ted: That’s us, dude.
– from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
I’ve decided to shift gears a little bit with this blog. I have been noticing a trend developing here for a while, and it took my favorite WordPress “follower” to confirm it for me: This blog is far too much about “rehashing Rob” and not nearly enough “Rebuilding Rob”. That changes now. Besides, I have things fermenting in the legal arena in regards to Jabba and The Kid that I don’t want to even begin to discuss here. Instead, I’m going to write today about something that has been stuck in my craw for quite a while:
I don’t know the first thing about being a step-dad.
As i said, I’ve wanted to write about this for a while; but the other day, I took 1B to a doctor’s appointment. The doctor came out to the waiting room and addressed me as “1b’s step-dad?” I have no problem with her referring to me as her step-dad already. In fact, I’m flattered and honored. My big problem – as it is in so many other aspects in my life is my penchant for erring on the side of caution.
I don’t want to step on other people’s toes. I don’t want to put off, offend or unnerve anyone – sometimes to a fault. Sometimes, I err so far on the side of caution that I end up coming across as distant or aloof. Here’s a completely random example – and no, this is not me bitching about a particular incident – sometimes I’ll try so hard to give The Auteur and 1B some alone time that I end up removing myself from a conversation; or physically removing myself from a room – and then I come across to them as upset or angry when I’m far from it.
People like to say “there’s no instruction book that comes with being a parent”. This is absolutely true and for the most part, you don’t really need one. As a parent, you’re pretty much able to make up the rules and routines as you go. As a step-parent or a step-patent-to-be, you’re entering into someone else’s relationship and you don’t have the luxury of making things up as you go. As a step-parent, you are the foreign element being introduced. You are expected to conform to the rules and routines that are already established in the family. There are certain tasks, duties, responsibilities you are expected to perform; and others that are considered way out of line for you to address. It is a proverbial tightrope that is walked by the step-parent.
Last week, the Auteur’s daughter, whom I shall affectionately refer to as “1B” said to the Auteur that she was ready to meet me. The Auteur ran this past me. I didn’t really have a problem with it. I work with kids her age (or a little older) all day for a living. Granted they inherently hate me on some level since I am their teacher; but I really wasn’t concerned with the prospect of meeting her.
I’ve never met a date/girlfriend’s kid before. Hell, there was only one other girl I ever dated who even had a kid already. But as a 39 year-old divorcee with child, that’s par for the course in the New Normal. In fact, the closest thing I can compare to meeting a s/o’s kid would be meeting a significant other’s parents for the first time. But even meeting someone’s parents has never been an issue for me. Sure, I want them to like me; but I know that I’m a good guy. Typically I stay on my toes, watch my language and try to be engaging and I’m fine.
In my opinion, meeting a S/O’s kid is an even bigger step in a relationship than meeting her parents. It is my opinion that being a parent means that the person is unequivocally and adult just by virtue of the fact that thy are in charge of a member of the next generation. This is a view I have held since The Boy was born. To this day, i still don’t consider myself to be an adult, but I know that as a father, society see me as such; but I digress. The fact is, person’s child develops a far greater emotional attachment to the would-be boyfriend/girlfriend than said person’s parents ever do. When a kid’s parent enters a relationship with a new man/woman, that new person can be viewed as potential step-parent, a possible role model, or someone they hate for any number of personal reasons. `It is for these reasons that I say that meeting a significant other’s child(ren) is a HUGE step in any relationship; one upon which I hope most people do not tread lightly.
I met 1B this past Sunday morning when she, The Auteur and I all got breakfast. 1 B was pretty much exactly as she had been described to me by the Auteur. She’s a very polite kid; very good mannered; VERY mature for her age in many ways. As any kid should be, she is a living testament to her mother’s parenting ability. It pisses me off when I hear that 1B’s father has so little to do with her. I only met her once and I can tell that 1B is a great kid. Her father has truly lost out on the experience of raising her and being a part of her life.
It’s funny. When I talk to the Auteur about the STBX, and her attempts of screwing me out of time with The Boy, she gets really angry. She sees how much I want to be a part of The Boy’s life and is dumbfounded by the STBX’s attempts to keep me from him. Seeing The Auteur react as she does gives me a sense of vindication. There are thousands, if not millions, of single Moms who dream that their Exes or baby daddys would want to be as involved as I want to be with The Boy.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. If nothing else, my relationship with The Auteur has taught me not only about the relationship I want to have going have, but also just how screwed-up things with me and the STBX truly were.
- Responsible Parenting – Dealing With Teenage Step Daughters (akronscienceschool.com)
- Becoming a Step Parent: What’s Crucial to Making this Transition Smooth (palmbeachathleticwear.com)