Lessons In Parenting

Temper Temper Kids

“I’m telling Mommy!”

It’s been over two years since I first met the twins.  I decided that I wanted to wait of course to see where our relationship was going before becoming introduced to the two little men who are now my step-sons.   In a previous relationship I had become so attached to the kids (and unfortunately less so to their Father) that it caused tremendous pain when we went our separate ways.   I vowed never to formulate a relationship with any more children until I knew for a fact that the relationship was set in stone and headed for the altar.   To the frustration of a few men I dated afterward where I refused to meet their kids.

I was accused of being “kid hating” which is anything but the truth.  I am “kid loving” and the idea of hurting little feelings gutted me.   NerdGirl is responsible like that.

Over the distance the twins and I formulated a relationship that included making meatballs over Skype camera.  Phone calls, and text messages sometimes after their Mom got them new iPod’s.   We watched cool and funny video’s on YouTube together and visited while I folded laundry.  It gave them time to get to know me a little in between visits, and for the longest year when I had to stay in Canada and Kevin came to visit me.  No one said I couldn’t come to Texas but we were very cautious about the rules.   Immigration is a fair process but an arduous one, and it requires that you follow instruction carefully.

My heart had a painful pang when I arrived and Lucas (the philosopher twin) said “I’m glad you aren’t inside the computer anymore Lori.  I am happy you are here and now you have to stay here.”

Me: “I can’t go home again?”

Lucas: “You can go visit but this is your home with us now.  It’s okay if all your family comes too though.”

Me: “Good to know son.”

A blended family is something I should have great experience with.  At the age of 18 my parents divorced after what seemed like a lifetime of fighting, infighting in the families, flying plates and flying fists, restraining orders… you name it.   The crazy thing is that I believed that kind of life only existed for people on Jerry Springer or Judge Judy.  Not people with horses, a cottage, riding lessons… or a nice car when they turned 16.

My parents remarried within two years of their divorce and within one month of each other.  My father married a woman who had been married and divorced twice before, who had no children (and no interest or time for children).   My mother married a man who was divorced, bankrupt and owned little more than two rooms of shoddy old furniture and a reputation for cheating on his former and bragging about not paying child support for his three kids.    Score!!   The main point being that neither my Step-Mother nor my Step-Father cared about integrating.  In fact in retrospect, the goal was to find a meal ticket, and exclude the children as quickly as possible.

Which they did.

So to say that I understand what a bad step-parent is would be an understatement.  I have a PhD in that.

I am not going to be that.

Kids in a blended situation test the limits of the rules, adjusting to slightly different rules perhaps in both homes.  Nonetheless, when there are statements that test our cooperative effort (their Mom and Step-Dad vs. their Dad and myself) we put up the unified front.

“I don’t like it when Mommy says….” get’s corrected politely with a “Your Mommy loves you so much and she is a wonderful Mom.  Your job is to listen to her and help her whenever you can.”

It shocks them I think that we have that opinion, or that we back their Mom up.  There is no my side/their side.  There are two kids that belong to two loving parents, two loving step-parents and two homes.

We do however, accept the use of the term “Drama Llama” in our home to demonstrate when someone is being overly dramatic.

Blended Family

The concept of a blended family in the eyes of an eight year old. It stays on our fridge as a loving reminder.

After a weekend of even more fun and activity than they are used to (perhaps a bit more spoiling and treats too) they were tired and cranky.

“I’m going to tell Mommy on you” was said to Kevin, which launched into a disciplinary conversation.  We were on our way home from getting pizza.

By the time we got home, the twin who had uttered it felt horrible and both twins were processing it and feeling sad and guilty.   Because we believe in “no secrets” Kevin called their Mom which left me alone at the table with the kids.

Me: “Do you know that when you aren’t here, we miss you so so much?  In fact, the week before you guys are coming, do you know Daddy and I talk and talk about all the fun things we could do and plan it so that we can have a lot of interesting things to do when you get here?

Their faces turned up and the sniffing stopped.

“You… yyou miss us that much?”

Me: “Oh yes honey.  We get so excited when we know you are coming.  And if we had to choose between doing the coolest most fun thing in the world and getting to spend the day with you, do you know what Daddy and I would choose?

“Us?”

Me: “Every single time.  We love you.  You are the most important thing in the world to us.  But I want you to know that Daddy and Mommy talk all the time.  There is nothing that goes on here that Mommy doesn’t know.  And when something happens at your house your Mommy tells Daddy too.   That’s how they take care of you no matter what house you are at.  Do you understand now?  We don’t keep secrets so there is no need to “tell” on anyone.  Mommy and Daddy know everything, and Josh and I do too.”

Twin “I’m sorry I said that.  I think I am so tired from yesterday and in a bad mood.”

Me: “Well after we have pizza, let’s chill out and play some video games or watch some movies and snuggle, okay?”

[Insert happy faces].

Blended families are hard for the kids and hard for the adults.  The grown-up’s won’t always agree on everything but the point (at least in my summation) is that the relationship is built on trust and respect.  That we back each other up and never put the kids in a position where they feel that they can manipulate us against each other.

The morals and the love line up between the households.  And we all take the job of raising good little humans to heart.  But there won’t be any ‘sides’ to take.  We’re on the same side, with different addresses.

In other news, I’ve learned to share my Fruit Loops.