Sunday, February 24, 2008

Growing up

In a perfect world, no one would have step-children. Or, to look at it the other way, step-parents. It's a side-effect relationship, and it's almost always a side-effect of something the step-children wish hadn't happened and the step-parents wouldn't have chosen.

But these things happen in the real world, and I've had step-children for getting on a decade now. They've never lived with us, so they probably wouldn't define themselves as such, but that's how I see them.

It's been up and down, with generally more up than down, so I can't really complain. I know people who've had it a lot worse. As they get older, and as I get older, it gets easier. There are times when it's a lot of fun. Two out of three of them are now older than I was when I got together with their father, and I figure that must help.

But this is still one of the few areas of my life where I am deliberately non-confrontational -- anyone who's a step-parent knows that they are skating on thin ice, and the water underneath is very cold. Recently, and with one of them in particular, I sense warmer undercurrents of acknowledgement. I appreciate these a lot, but I suspect they might still disappear in a blinding flash and a puff of green smoke if the wind changed. See how I write about it in rubbish mixed metaphors? Mind you, it's only recently I've dared write about it at all.

However. M's eldest is about to turn 30. I was in several minds (there are few situations that can generate more than two, but this is one of them) about whether I should go to his party -- we're invited, but so, obviously, is his mother, and there is pretty much no one I would less like to encounter in a social situation.

So I was vacillating, but you can't say these things. But when we saw him today he suggested, unprompted, that we arrive after 8 if we wanted to avoid scary X (he doesn't call her that, I hasten to add).

Wow, I thought, that is a grown up thing to do. I guess I should celebrate the arrival of my step-children into adulthood, and get over some of the things they did and said before they got there.



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