Saturday, January 17, 2009


Please listen, read along, all the way through!

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Step Overboard!

I am going to assume here…that all of our kids will testify to the truth in the following discourse. They may argue about “who” was worse…or “who” felt worse…but they will all agree with the premise that “life as a step” can really be tormenting almost every “step” of the way!

I have always detested, the phrases “step-dad”, “step-mom”, and “step-children”. Being any one of these people is very perplexing, and can at times be the source of major distress. Have you ever read a story with good “step” characters in it? Me neither.

Immediately, upon becoming a “step” person, one automatically receives a large zero….complete with strike-through….branded squarely in the middle of their forehead. This “badge of dishonor” is glaringly visible to anyone having some predisposed aversion to “step” persons or any person who may find out about the horrendous “step” condition …… For some unknown reason, “step” suggests, “Guilt”. The title, alone, is disparaging… and destructive .. and destabilizing … in my opinion.

The normal emotions that stir in parents for their natural children (and vice-versa) are usually highly suspect if applied to “step” children.. Unconstrained familiarity is often just downright unacceptable for “step” people. Consequently, one begins the relationship as a presupposed adversary ….. at least several “steps” behind in the caring and charisma category. It is a step-parent’s, and a step-child’s, woeful misfortune to be constantly surveyed, scrutinized, suspected, and supervised …. a very annoying predicament, indeed.

“Step” can be defined as the “part touching the ground”….. Lord have mercy! What kind of message does that send? Sweet little kids become “step” children! One doesn’t, however, become a “step” husband or “step” wife …. and mercifully one doesn’t acquire “step” dogs and “step” cats. But, all in all, everyone involved in a “step” family, inadvertently feels they are being “stepped” on … at least to some degree.

“I’d like you to meet my step-mom”… or, “this is my step-son”…… who on God’s green earth, conjured up this troublesome state of existence? Maybe, some very miserable “step” person with some interminable vendetta against all “step” people? Oh no….could it have been Cinderella that started it all?

“Steps” ought to receive some special social status … be declared a minority… or possibly a special needs person. Maybe we could receive some unique tax break, or even a “step” parking placard……Better yet, a designated toilet facility for “steps” only! Yeah, I’d like that!

As step-parents, James and I both felt the same pressures, applied by each other and by the kids. All of the kids were overwhelmed by feelings of loyalty or disloyalty….fairness seemed nonexistent to any of them. If some specialty item was needed by one of them…they all had to have it….whether they needed it or not. They hated taking turns going to the store…they were mad if it wasn’t their turn to sit up front in the car…..would argue about who rode shotgun last…….everything had to be fair. I began to hate the word, fair! What was fair to one, was considered unfair to the other four. A couple of the kids would create arguments about everything…the other three would hold off until “it was their turn”…James was right, I was wrong…I was right, James was wrong….and on …and on.. and on! I guess they all thought of me as a nagging, double-crossing snitch! I had finally arrived…I was living up to my initial calling in life!

I would yell,“ Hold it! This is NOT a democracy..this is a dictatorship….and guess who I am?"

Or, “ No. N. O. Neg-a-tory. Negative. Do you know what NO means? Not, Nix, Never!” One of the simplest, yet most difficult to understand word in the English language!

And everybody’s favorite…. “You just wait till I tell your Dad!”

I tried my level best, over the years, to sort through this dilemma, to come to terms with the “step factor” impinging on our family ties ….. with only small success.. I have found though, when small seeds of genuine affection and trust are perfectly planted, closely cultured, and delicately nurtured in the rich soil of brokenhearted people, they can blossom into beautiful creations….. “steps” can become very close and loving friends…. for life.

So, our “step” family began our lengthy journey, occasionally treading on the toes of one another… exploring.... each seeking one tiny slice of acceptance ….. a minuscule rest stop… that special little niche carved into the heart of one another which we could claim as our own. Haphazardly drifting the ocean of life for several years, we rode the waves with no particular direction or destination in mind, constantly working to patch up tattered rigging, never even considering what our vessel really required, was a secure anchor in a safe harbor. We were all seeking refuge in each other….and not one of us could provide that safe harbor.

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Procrastination. . . .

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"You oughta write a book"

Yeah . . . right . . .

"No, no . . .I mean it! You should write one."

Yeah . . .ok . . . OK . . .I'll write . . . I'll write . . . a BOOK!

Most of us at sometime or another have felt the impulse to jot down a few profound thoughts or were prompted by a fellow salad-bar survivor to do so. In the minority are those that truly consider such a specious suggestion as being an actual possibility. If the thought is pondered more than a second or two the audacity of such a monumental task will often cause failure from the gitgo.

We recall those daunting essays in junior high school…the “What I Did Last Summer”... or... “My Favorite Pet”... stories. Two-hundred words or more about nothing when punctuation and spelling actually counted, was a pretty tough assignment, even then. I remember being assaulted by waves of cybernetic tummy toxins invariably arriving the evening before the assigned paper was due. Racking the brain, staring at a few pitiful words flagrantly scrawled across the mostly void sheet of loose leaf, all of my gray matter would be focused on “How To Be Sick Tomorrow.”

For many years my maxim in life has been “one should never do today what one can delay until tomorrow.” And my old buddy, “Procrastination” has always backed me up…. 100% of the time. Ahh…yes! Slumming with the “Big P"... mastering the art and science of self-rescue by haphazardly mapping the shortest escape route. Routinely assisted by dogmatic selection processes of a selfish society and the spurious safety of disproportionate self-esteem, the same hypocritical clique freely distributes assessments without reserve.

My most dependable buddy “P” and I have hidden under a bushel basket of lame excuses while hugging memory ravaging delays as we smooched the cold cheek of our own impotence. Somewhere between the bloom and harvest I fell in love with the idea of wasting time. So me and “P” spent most of our time peeling another day, slicing through another month, and sectioning another year from the fruit of “my life.”

Until this day……. (Of course, you don’t know if it really is today, do you? Only “P” and me know that for sure! Gotcha!)

Today, I send my old friend dawdling off whichever way he decides to go. I will use the dividing knife of time to prepare for you, a “real life” story; a beggarly buffet for public consumption. I intend to skin, slice, and bare my inner core in a wholly communal manner before my entire yield of fruit, seed and all, are devoured by “shouldn’t, couldn’t, can’t,”... or... “won’t”. Let the juice splash where it may!

It is my conviction, that even the slightest therapeutic value of spilling the contents of one’s anemic soul, of dumping one’s tiny puddle of tears and laughter into the immense polluted river of jettisoned journals and orphaned opinions must be reason enough to consider launching a pig. I invite you who may have fallen too soon...or maybe too far from the tree; some who may be bruised, slightly soft in places; those whom have observed the firmest more colorful and tasty fruit being chosen... while inadvertently you fell to the bottom of the barrel….please join me as I catapult from the author’s launch pad!


Reland Duliece Melton