I must say that this blending families business is hard work. Have I mentioned this theme before? Because it’s still true. My boyfriend and I are moving slowly and carefully, acclimatizing the kids to us, but also us to them. My boisterous boys can be a handful and I’ve really struggled to overcome my anxieties around situations in which they don’t behave. If they scream, fight, whine, refuse to eat, or dance naked on the table (yes, this has happened more than once!), I worry whether my relationship is over. Why would anyone but these kids’ biological parents want to parent them?
But it’s to be expected, my boyfriend always reminds me. This is what raising kids is all about and he seems game for it, even if it means I’ve had to up my game in terms of discipline. And so, in that vein, I think we had a breakthrough this week. Here’s how it went down: My son Josh, age 5, refused to get his socks and sweater on to go skiing.
“Josh, please get dressed,” I told him again and again. “Josh, get your socks, get your sweater. If you can’t listen I will have to take your wrestlers away.”
But he was too busy playing with his wrestlers—he could play with those action figures all day. So finally I ran upstairs and brought him down a pair of socks and sweater. But apparently it was the wrong sweater.
“I hate that sweater! Get me another one!” he roared.
In fact, it really was like a roar. His mouth was open wide. His breath blew my hair back. I nearly cowered under his anger. My boyfriend was standing right there. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh from embarrassment, end the situation before it got worse by getting him another, more acceptable sweater. I could feel all eyes and ears on me and I had to act fast. I wanted my boyfriend to know that I wasn’t going to take this rudeness and I needed my son to know that this behaviour wasn’t acceptable, whether it was happening in front of others or not. So I grabbed a garbage bag, picked up the wrestling ring and stuffed it into the bag. Then I picked up each and every wrestler and added them to the bag while Josh wailed.
I couldn’t help but smile.
Josh got his socks and sweater on and within minutes we were in the car.
“Can I earn it back?” he sniffled.
“You will get them back on Sunday,” I told him. “I gave you lots of warnings, I told you the consequences and now I’m following through. That’s not how you speak to me.”
I’m hoping that stronger parenting on my part will show my significant other that we can manage this blending business more easily than I may have thought.