Advice from a Stepdad on Father’s Day

Things they do not tell you about being a stepdad

So, I’ve been a stepdad for about 5 years now, and I have some observations I’d like to share… the top 5 things that no one will tell you about being a stepdad.

  1. As a stepdad, you start to worry a lot more. For me, this has led to more grey hair, a weird twitch in my eye when I hear a siren and the boys aren’t home, and (best of all), a massive worry-line in the middle of my forehead. It’s a line soooo deep that I can hold a fork in it. Without even being stressed.

I worry about their safety, their health, their happiness. I worry if they’ll make friends, if they’ll make good friends, if they’ll find a girl (or guy) at some point who will love them the way they deserve to be loved.

I worry about if they’re eating right, if they’re watching too much YouTube, if they’re becoming more like a robot than a human. I worry if they’ll be able to afford to buy a house in Greater Vancouver, if they’ll be destroyed when AI takes over the world, or if they’ll drown when the polar ice caps on mars melts.

In other words, I worry a lot. There’s a 24-page list. Single spaced. 10.5 font. As a stepdad, you will be exhausted … like Fred Flintstone working as a Bronto-crane operator at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company kind of tired.

2. After a full day with the boys (and remember, I don’t even work), I can literally pass out on the couch with a bottle of whiskey clutched in my trembling hands. Ok, the bottle is a lie, but the rest is true.

A day of taking one biking, another to music, of cooking supper and forcing one of them to do homework, and listening to the other play the piano and trying to get them to reveal intimate details of their life so I can blog out them, well, yes, it takes it out of me.

I totally get why having kids at 25 is a great idea. At 55, gosh, it’s tough.

3. As a stepdad, you will discover that you are not a god.

This came as a big surprise to me. I so wanted to be god-like, for little faces to look up to me and soak up all my vast stores of knowledge, to listen to my every word like I was a YouTuber or a rapper or sit in awe as I pontificate about history, philosophy, tanks, or politics.

Instead, I’ve had to reset my expectations.

Now, I’m insanely excited if they ask me about the weather.

4. Being a stepdad is COMPLETELY different from being Uncle-Joe. Uncle Joe never had to get someone to bed who didn’t want to go to bed. Uncle Joe never had to nag someone to finish a project or threaten to take away electronic time. Uncle Joe never had to explain what an erection is or what to do about bullies.

Uncle Joe had an amazing life of giving out ice cream, of taking kids mini-golfing, or showing them how He could leave whenever things got, to quote The-Oldest “Real”. Being Uncle Joe was easy. Being stepdad Joe, a lot harder!

5. There’s a ton of stuff that you will do that you will not want to do as a stepdad, but you will do it anyway. I’m not talking about changing diapers, I missed that fun, but other stuff that’s hard.

I mean, honestly listening to a grade 4 band play something is like having someone stick a screeching cat in your ear, then set it on fire. But at least the grade 4s playing their little hearts out has a cuteness factor.

Being a baseball scorekeeper or hockey treasurer, well, that’s just pure stress that you take on for no other reason than you have to do it. Or the pure joy of getting up at 5am to take a boy to a practice then driving back to get something he forgot. Or the racing to the school after a terrifying call that you need to be in the principal’s office NOW!

Fun times. Yes.

*****

So, yeah, those are some of the things they don’t tell you about being a stepdad or stepmom or hell, just a parent in general.

teaching the boys about chess

But here’s the deepest truth of all – being a stepdad, even a massively flawed one, has given my some of the greatest experiences of my life, and watching the boys grow from little goobers to decent, amazing men is something I wouldn’t trade for all the chocolate in the world.

Honestly, it’s the last thing no one tells you about – All those things above pale in comparison to the joy of being a stepdad.

Thanks for reading the blog and if you like what you read, please call someone, write a letter to a publisher telling them they need to buy my book, or simply follow me here, or on FB here or here.

Traveling With Kids – Legoland – Water Wars

Water Wars

seems like a goodOk, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

How many times have I said that?

We said we would go on a water ride at Legoland.

But it was cold and windy. It was about 4pm.

Still the youngest had so wanted to do something watery. But walking around with wet clothes, for hours and hours, not my idea of fun. It might have been his, however. Despite the weather, he had not given up on his dream. So we waited until the very end when we decided it was time to go play in the water.

Specifically, let’s get in a big water fight.

IMG_3417The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world knew better. No way she was going to get wet. Or cold.

And cold and wet, no way in hell.

I can’t say I was that keen either, but a deal’s a deal. He’d been patient (mostly, at least as much as a 7 year old can be patient), and we’d all done what we wanted to do, so now he got to do what he wanted to do.

The ride he chose was called the Splash Battle. Basically, it involved us boarding ships armed with water cannon and go around soaking the other ships and anyone walking by.

IMG_2061 (2)A super fun experience on any other day, but today, almost no one was on the ride. So, I honestly thought I’d be able to make the youngest happy by taking him and his brother on it AND remaining largely dry.

How wrong was I?

It all went according to plan at first. We boarded the ship. There was only one other sorry-looking dad and his 2 daughters in another boat. No way we’d even get close to them. And, although there were water cannon all along the pathway, aimed at the ships, no one was going near them. I mean, who wants to get wet? And cold?

IMG_2062How smug was I as we rounded the first curve all dry and stuff? The boys seemed happy that they could shoot their water cannon at stationary targets, targets that did not shoot back.

Score!

But then,  as we rounded one turn, we came in range of the shore-bound mega cannons manned by evil teenagers who spawned from hell. I sure as heck didn’t see them there when we boarded. I have no idea where they come from. None. One minute it was all fine and the next…

Well, they proceeded to soak us all to the skin. Throwing buckets of water on us would made us less dry. They hosed us down like firemen putting out a blazing inferno.

The youngest laughed and laughed as we were doused. The oldest did his best to hide from the deluge. I thanked the stars I’d given the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world my camera and phone to protect. She, sitting all dry and cute on a bench, just smiled at us. And waved.

If it had been hot out, it would have been amazing. We would have had epic battles with other ships, soaked passers-by, gotten wet and been happy to do so.

IMG_2064 (2)But as the wind started to blow, as we got off so wet that my clothes were basically a second skin (and believe me, that’s not a good look for me), the boys dying to do it, again, as I shivered and shook and I dripped on the shoes on anyone who stood near me, I realized that deep down, I knew there was a chance we’d get soaked on this ride and I did it anyway. That’s parenting, my friends. That’s love.

Or stupidity.

Is there a difference?

******

Has anyone else had an experience like that? Riding a ride that would make you sick so your child could have an amazing experience?

Has anyone ever refused to do that?

And hey, if you like this blog, please share it. Or print it out and hug it. Either is good.