The 17 year old has her own views of her new step siblings. She is convinced that they are demon spawn, placed solely on this earth to peek at her and sneak through her stuff when she is not in her room. (Which explains why she keeps her room in such a way that it would discourage even the EPA from investigating the environs.) She was raised an only child, and believe me, it is a major stretch to have an instant family thrust on you. To her credit, my daughter has learned what I believe to be the most important lesson in having brothers and sisters, and that is the fine, and not so neglected, art of “torturing your siblings for fun and profit.”
My three step-children are a boy, aged 7, a boy, aged 5, and a little girl, aged 3. Now it seems that I have two boys and two girls. Some people ask if it is the perfect family? Some ask, if it is fun? Still others remind me that children are such a joy. (Normally the only people who think this garbage are the grandparents....). Actually from my perspective, it is “like, you know, a really good reason to drink copious amounts of alcohol.” I am older and now I have more than one reason for being senile. After the divorce, I started out with only three nerves, and now, I have a kid for each one with one left over. Simply put, it is easier to look stupid and keep your mouth shut, than it is to go ballistic and rave like a lunatic. After all it is one thing to look and act infirm, and it is another to look like a mass murderer on steroids.
Often times, being senile is a great excuse for avoiding the tough questions, and I don’t know if it is coming on as a factor of age or as a built in parental defense mechanism, but either way it can be a blessing. The biggest advantage is that sometimes you can lull the children into believing you don’t have a clue, and then when they least expect it, you can catch them completely off guard when all of a sudden you have a lucid moment. The key is to keep them guessing. Yes, being unpredictable is the spice of life, and perhaps the only weapon in the arsenal that still works. After all, being a Dad/Stepdad is like throwing a spear at an airplane, or kissing your sister. (Which only seems to work if you are from parts of, well you know, wherever that sort of thing happens....)
Mark Twain once said that he realized how much smarter his father got as Twain got older. Believe it or not, while Dad was probably smart to begin with, no one would ever know it as long as the kids were home. It is the same condition as shell shock. Sometimes when Dad is staring into space with a lost and confused look, it is because that is where he would rather be, lost in space. At least June Lockhart and the Robot kept the kids off the old man’s back. Being elsewhere mentally is Dad’s only way of avoiding the reality of parenthood. Which by the way, gets more frightening as the age and number of kids grows. ~ Michael S. Pauley