We had become a “blended” family…and I use that term loosely. I had three daughters and he had one. In the nine years I had been single, I had taught my daughters to become self-sufficient; doing their own cooking, laundry and managing their own money…and to think for themselves.
His daughter was a little younger and had been taught very differently. He was used to her behavior.
The blending wasn’t going too well. It was going to take a lot of adjusting.
One day he came home after a long day at work. Two of my teenage daughters were sitting at the kitchen table doing their homework. As he walked through the kitchen to the bedroom to change his clothes, he sat a paper sack containing two hamburgers on the corner of the table.
When he returned to the kitchen, he could not find his hamburgers.
I heard his sputtering and hurried to the kitchen. Practically doubled over in laughter, I tried to explain about the concept of not sitting food in front of teenagers and then leaving the room.
He didn’t think it was funny.
We made some new rules. No more sitting food that you planned to eat in front of teenagers. And for the teenagers…ask first.
So Lyn did ask. When he came home with a watermelon, she asked, “Is that for me?”
As he slid the watermelon into the refrigerator, he answered, “Sure”.
Later that evening, Lyn went to band practice. He headed to the refrigerator for a slice of watermelon. It was gone.
Life was certainly frustrating.
Lyn had a fun time at practice and came bouncing through the door on her return. He met her with a question. “Did you do something with my watermelon?”
Her response, “I asked you and you said it was for me. I took it to band practice and shared with everyone”.
He had meant she could have some. She had taken him literally…that it was for her.
One of the things I had learned as I made my way through the land mines of being a single parent was never react to what they said. Reactions stop all communication. So when I re-married, that was one of the concepts I shared with my new husband.
One day, as we drove Lyn home from school, he demonstrated to me that he had learned that lesson very well.
From the back seat, Lyn asked, “How do you know if you are pregnant?”
His hands may have tightened the grip on the steering wheel, but he hit no telephone poles nor did he run over any curbs…or people.
I calmly began explaining the changes in the body and symptoms that might appear if you were pregnant.
“Ok,” she said. “Lori (her friend) thinks she might be and was afraid to ask her mom. I told her I could ask you.”
Once again, all was well.
My two youngest daughters were in marching band. It was Lyn’s last year in high school and Rene’s first year. Lyn really wanted me to chaperone the band as they went out of town to a competition. Rene didn’t want anyone to know I was her mother.
I sat in the back of one bus with Lyn and her friends. Rene rode in a different bus. When we arrived at the stadium, Rene stayed as far away from me as she could. Lyn and her friends accepted me as “one of them” and we were having fun.
Suddenly, Rene appeared at my elbow.
“Mom, I need to talk to you”, she said.
“I’m sorry. Do I know you?” was my response.
“Moooooom, I really need to talk to you”.
I decided to be her mom again. Together we averted what she considered a catastrophe. When the crisis was over, she returned to her bus…once more avoiding me.
Then there was the time Rene lost someone else’s baby. She had gone to babysit. A little later, she came home…frantic.
“Mom, I don’t know where Julia is. I took her down to the school to meet with some friends. Karen took her to show to someone else. And now I can’t find Karen or Julia”.
So much for a relaxing evening.
But all is well that ends well. By the time we returned to the school, Karen had returned…Julia was fine…and Rene had some new rules to live by.
Living with teenagers is about learning to live life in the state of flux.
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