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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1 comment:

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I've never thought of the step-stereotypes. But now that you mention it, I don't think I've read a book with a good step-parent in it. I've written one though, but it isn't published yet. I'm still working on it. The publisher that was interested has stopped acquiring fiction due to the economy. So I've gone back to working on my other historicals. My debut novel will be out May 2010. It's Highland Blessings.