Step parenting is not easy, you come into this ready made family who have bonds from before they were born and it’s hard to try and find a place to ‘fit in’, these kids have known their parents their whole lives and the parents have loved that child or children since the pregnancy test showed as positive, yet here you are this stranger meeting these children for the first time and you have no idea how it’s going to work.
Take meeting my step kids for instance, my first meeting with nerd boy kids was the night of his 30th birthday, it was a surprise party and I had no idea his kids were going to be there, obviously he had no idea either, I hadn’t been with him long and I managed to get invited along to his party as I knew this man was special and wanted to spend his big birthday with him naturally, he said whatever it was that was happening that he didn’t want his children there as he wanted to relax, it wasn’t him being mean but he wanted to have a drink and doesn’t like to when they are around as he likes to remain focused, which I can fully understand but they were there and while I waited for him to arrive I didn’t know it at the time, it’s only moments after he arrived it became clear they was there and while his son is so damn lovely to anyone he meets his daughter was naturally weary of me, she spent a lot of time with his ex girlfriend and was very close to her and even though there was a large gap between myself and the ex girlfriend, his daughter wasn’t happy I was there to share her dads special night with him and quite rightly so, if I had known they were going to be there, I would have gone down the next day and met them as planned on the Sunday but it had happened and I felt out of my depth to be honest with you.
Meeting again on the Sunday wasn’t as hard but while I knew both children wouldn’t be ‘Alison I love you’ straight away it still felt like these two little people would never like me, I didn’t know what to say to her as I didn’t have any dealings with girls and I had no idea what she actually liked or anything, I met them in the December and didn’t see them again until the next April which was probably the right amount of time to show her that me and her dad were serious about one another and I wasn’t going anywhere, we had little blocks of time together and I think that helped, I didn’t enter too much into her life and didn’t want to feel like I was smothering her, I wanted to let her come to me and make the first move, it was all on her own terms, I was the stranger coming in and didn’t want to push her.
I moved in with her dad at the end of July and we spent the first night together the night I moved down, my youngest son was there to keep me company just in case it went a bit wrong but it didn’t, that summer was the summer I looked after them during the holidays and I really got to know them, they used to go to childminders etc over the holidays but as I didn’t have a job it seemed natural for me to have them, it was only a few days a week and it was a chance for me to get to know them and get to know them I did.
I found out her brother hated most foods and couldn’t do much for himself, he was only 7 at the time and she was 8 and while I know he was young I was shocked that some of the basic things like using a knife and fork was alien to him, I took them to breakfast the first morning I had them, keen to impress them I guess and I found out firsthand that he didn’t like bacon, eggs or sausages, he liked porridge, I felt like a failure that I didn’t know even this basic information but at the same time thinking ‘who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?!’, I found out their idea of window shopping was getting in amongst the clothes in shops and picking every single thing up in shops they went in and I found this hard because it’s not something my kids would ever do, I’m not saying they ran riot but going in mountains of clothes isn’t something I’m comfortable with, we have a rule now if they aren’t buying something they look with their eyes and not their hands, it seems harsh but the youngest is quite clumsy and I don’t want to foot the bill for something he has broken and I don’t want him touching stuff and putting his hands in his mouth and he has no idea where the persons before hands have been, as I know he didn’t wash his hands after the toilet, if he can do that what other child does the same, over the years I’ve taught him how to use a knife and fork, to wait to start dinner and to have dinner with the tv off, I’ve taught him to tie his shoelaces and I’ve shown nerd boy that kids will do anything to get out of a dinner they don’t want to eat, when I first moved here both of his kids would get up in a middle of a meal and go off to the toilet ‘to make some room’ and when they came back I noticed they would rarely eat their dinner, I’ve taught the youngest how to try a few more foods, he still isn’t great with his dinner but he now eats a vegetable or two, just the other day he had some macaroni cheese for dinner and I put it in a bowl and put some sweet corn on the top and he cried and cried that he didn’t like it despite not trying it but he did eventually and do you know what he asked for the next weekend he was down? Yup the same as two weeks before ‘as it was nice’ it was the first time he ever asked for something I’d done. I’m careful not to use any spices around him as if he thinks his dinner has been tampered with he won’t touch it, he won’t touch cheese unless it’s melted and neither of them would eat crusts when I first met them they n sandwiches or crusts of pizza, they both do now as I don’t like waste.
At the same time they have taught me to be calmer with my own children, his youngest has driven both myself and nerd boy to tears sometimes with his refusal to eat or do anything and while with my own kids I would have shouted at the top of my voice with his kids, I can’t do that (apart from once, little man had put this Lego chain in his mouth and this is an on going issue with him and things in his mouth and this was a huge piece of chain for a small person, we had warned him and warned him that if we saw something else in his mouth we would throw it away and we found this chain in his mouth so nerd boy chucked it in the bin, he ‘cried’ solidly for an hour that it was his favourite bit etc, he couldn’t see we had warned him and I admit after seeing and hearing the fake tears; there was no tears, I shouted at him. The result was we got it back out the bin and said when he can go a month without anything in his mouth he can have it back, so far he isn’t getting it back, we are only so harsh because there has been several dashes to the hospital with coins and what not be digested, his mum very rarely follows through with a threat and this was his way of trying to get what he wanted, he thought if he screamed and shouted hard enough he would get it back and while we didn’t throw it away he still hasn’t got it back, in fact he didn’t even mention it last time they were here), they have also taught me that I can look after children, it’s not something I ever did when my kids were small, if ever I found myself alone with them I would go off to my mums for the day but I didn’t when I had them.
His daughter did used to cuddle me, as did his son but when my youngest complained they have backed off a bit and while I shouldn’t let my son get away with things like that, what he sees and what he doesn’t see are two different things. Both say they love me regularly (his son moreso) and even though it took time, we got there.
Nerd boy didn’t meet my kids for nearly five months, which was their dads decision and I think it worked perfectly to be honest, they knew this man was going to be around for a while if not longer and it gave nerd boy time to get to know them from me.
My kids step mum, she is amazing with my kids, just today she ranted to my sons school about an issue we are having with him, she helped to get my middle one into an amazing college and she is the best step mum I could have asked for my boys.
So step parenting isn’t easy but with time, lots of time you become a family.