A humorous treatise on surviving the joys(?) of step-parenthood
(Hopefully) without a divorce (Yet)
Written from an unashamedly male perspective
In the beginning…….
There was love between two people…
And that’s where it almost went horribly, awfully wrong.
The wedding; your induction
Tra-la-la-lah, dee-dum-de-dah. “You may kiss the bride!”
Okay. So far so good. You courted your beloved, she courted you back and she finally consented. You’re both a little drunk and are looking forward to consummating your mutual lust tonight (Yet again). You are the happiest couple in the whole frigging world. Today is yours.
All right, it’s not all smooth running. There’s the in-laws to placate, your own family with all their quirks and aberrations to deal with, the caterers, the cake, and the overwhelming sense of “But we’ve already got two of the bloody things.” When looking at the wedding gifts. And oh my gawd, I’m expected to smile…
However, there’s something you’ve forgotten. No, your flies are securely fastened (for now). No, no-one forgot the ring, the ceremony went okay, and you signed the book and wedding certificate with your real name. You’ve complimented every single member of the wedding party, healed old wounds (You hope), or wounded some old heels, watched the traditional tears of happiness flow from mothers, ignored sharp remarks from elderly aunts, and prevented your respective brothers in law from punching each others lights out with a few well chosen words (e.g. “Stop that, or I’ll break yer kneecaps.”) None of that. As far as the actual ceremony and wedding festivities have been concerned it’s been a blast. Even your best man stayed relatively sober and his speech wasn’t overly embarrassing. Phew.
Ah. Yes. Noticed have you? Them. Your new spouses darling little cherubs from a previous relationship sitting quietly, glowering balefully at you from a distant corner of the room. Biding their time. Dark little thoughts spinning through their betrayed little heads. Sucking at glasses of something sweet and fizzy with an air of affected truculent disdain. Because like it or not you are their betrayer. You smile and wave at them happily, vaguely wondering through your minor haze of alcohol / intoxicant of choice why they aren’t exactly sharing the joy of the day. So why do they both look like they’re auditioning for the part of Wednesday Addams?
Despite your elevated mood, a feeling of nameless arachnoid dread should now be crawling up your spine. You should feel like your gut is carrying a Titanic sized lump of sinking lead. A feeling of prescient doom, verging on the vertiginous should be sucking at your senses. If a sonorous bell is not dolefully tolling your fate, it bloody well should be.
The music that’s playing shouldn’t be ‘All you need is love’ or something light and poppy. Instead ‘Toccata in fugue’ should be blasting loud and clear through the speakers, casting a dread warning. There should be dark menacing strangers at the threshold, delivering croaky voiced finger quivering warnings of doom to the background of a massive thunderstorm. Dress code should be opera cloaks and slicked back hairdo’s with an overall colour scheme of black with a cobweb motif. There should be deep shadows, half seen spiders big enough to give a Tarantula the heebies, large cobwebs, the bigger and the better. The odd scuttling lizard or hissing snake might add a little something. The motif should be threadbare curtains shading a Miss Faversham-like abandoned feast. Perhaps a dungeon in the cellar with optional chained-up skeletal remains. Coffins with creaky lids slowly opened from within by pallid blue-veined hands, hinges squealing with the failing of daylight. Demonic laughter should be heard emanating from a convenient cellar. The snuffling of foul bogeymen and other horrors should be warning you, or at least sniggering gleefully at your doom.
But there aren’t. It’s gloriously a sunny afternoon, there are happy people all around wearing their best clothes, a general tinkling of expensive hired cutlery on loaned plates, rills of refined and witty conversation, light merry laughter, bluff guffaws from the menfolk at the odd off colour joke, and the odd waft of a noisome fart because of Father in law’s embarrassing little gastric problem. It’s a wedding. Snatch what happiness you can from the moment. Because any experienced wedding planner will tell you that you are skating on a razors edge of a disaster curve that only the truly courageous will dare venture along.
Yet you’re not feeling particularly brave? Not even slightly less than timorous? Think I’m talking out of an orifice not necessarily designed for that purpose? Yet I promise you, from today onwards you must become Indiana Jones, James Bond, Biggles, Doc Savage, Superman, Batman, Lancelot, Galahad, Shrek and Mister Incredible all rolled into one. Even if you’re a hundred pound weakling with all the muscle tone of a wet elastic band. From here on in you will brave unknown dangers with feats that would send the bravest adventurer sprinting for the horizon, metaphysical tail tucked firmly between his legs.
Because today (Dee-dah-daaahhhhh!) you have become a Stepfather!
“Oh?” You might say. “Is that it? All that melodrama over my beloved’s darling children? Don’t be ridiculous. My new kids aren’t scary. They love me. Hahaha, what a ridiculous concept. Bill, you are sooo full of shit.”
To which I respond; “Well, reader. This is the mission you have chosen to accept. Should you screw up by ignoring the many helpful hints and tips scattered throughout this manuscript like leaves in fall, I shall disavow all responsibility of you. This message won’t self destruct, but you well might.” So there (Bronx cheer, Raspberry, insulting gesture of cultural preference).
I’d also like to point out that everything in this little missive to the world is drawn from personal experience, not a classroom, or lecture theatre, nor cherry picked from academic psychology text or some think tanks policy papers. There are no opinion polls, frightening percentages or statistics. The content owes nothing to any philosophy or religion. You won’t have to join a cult and give away your worldly goods to me (Although if you really want to, far be it from me….) Where the enclosed text agrees with anything else is a matter of the purest coincidence, and while my grandiose verbiage may not have the specific answer to your current child-centric dilemma, may prove some mild solace when you’re sleeping out in the cold with the family pet. (Not so bad if you’ve got a friendly German Shepherd, but a real downer if the only extra body warmth you’ve got is from a goldfish)
Oh yes, and if you follow any advice inappropriately and it still all ends in tears, that’s your problem. The hints and tips herein are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Every child is different and will require you to actually engage your brain for every mother-loving second in your everyday dealings with them. Your failure to do so is not my problem, okay?
Think you’ve got what it takes? Read on. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul.
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