Here are two great things about having a stepson:
1. He’s not really yours, so you’re not responsible for how he turns out.
2. You can experiment on him.
I recently acquired a stepson, and it’s a lot more fun than I anticipated. When my girlfriend and I got together two years ago, she warned me about the boy, who was 8 years old at the time.
“He’s quirky,” she said—which, of course, I translated into: “He’s a big freak who may stab you in your sleep.”
But I was wrong. He’s the good kind of quirky. He’s the type of quirky that prefers spending the weekend drawing graphic novels to watching TV. He can’t throw a football, but he can sing a show tune. And he thinks I’m the funniest person in the world.
When Wendy and I began dating, I figured my role in the boy’s life would be limited to buying him the occasional ice cream cone, and feigning interest in his art projects.
After all, the kid already has two domineering, overprotective mothers. He sure as hell doesn’t need another one.
But, again, I was wrong.
Almost immediately, maternal things were expected of me. Making snacks. Helping with homework. And, especially, joining him in his elaborate fantasy world, and allowing him to do anything his mothers forbid.
Wendy and her ex are fantastic mothers, but they have no sense of whimsy or imagination. They’re all about eating your vegetables, wearing weather-appropriate clothing, and going to bed at a decent hour.
The boy and I bonded the first time we were left alone together. Wendy had to run to the store. After spending several minutes wringing her hands over whether I’d be responsible enough to take care of the kid for an hour, she commanded that I “do something educational with him,” as she reluctantly headed out the door.
The minute the door closed, the boy, who up to this point had paid very little attention to me, made his eyes all liquid and puppyish, asking, “Can I watch Sponge Bob?”
I glanced at the long list of rules Wendy drafted before leaving. “No Sponge Bob” was at the top of the list, just under “No processed sugar.”
“Sure, kid,” I said, ripping up the list. “And how about some candy before dinner?”
We’ve been fast friends ever since. I have taught him swear words, and have encouraged him to use them in creative ways.
When he got in trouble from his teacher and his moms for hitting a kid who was bullying him, I patted him on the back, and told him it sounded like the kid deserved a smack. “He did,” he said under his breath.
At the beginning of the relationship, I wondered if I’d have to fight the kid for Wendy’s attention. But now, it’s she who fights for our attention.
While Wendy cooks our meals, and cleans up after us, the boy and I have long discussions about utter nonsense, and, increasingly, about girls.
By all laws of nature, the kid should be a big fag, but he loves the ladies. And I’m very generous with advice in this area.
Shortly after I first met him, I referred to him as “son” as a joke. He didn’t think it was funny.
“I’m not your son,” he said, still smarting from his moms’ breakup, and resenting my presence.
But yesterday, when I picked him up at school, a kid asked if I was his mom.
He said, “No, she’s a lot more fun than a mom.”
I nudged a tear from my eye, and said, “That’s my boy!”