What I’ve learned about being a Step-dad

One Day Weekends & Road Trips

Being a step dad is a full time job, even if you don’t have the kid’s full time.  It’s not always easy finding things to do with them, especially with our restricted budget.  Fairs are great fun, but can run up to 40-50 bucks for a few quick rides and some ice-cream.  A movie is terrible expensive and given the large range in ages 8, 17, and parents it’s not easy to find something that everyone can agree on.  Not to mention that the little one’s father usually takes her to see the kid friendly movies of the week.  So we’re forced to find economically maintainable activities for each weekend.  Sure sometimes it’s just us staying home doing what’s available around the house, but we’d rather get out and do things.  Fortunate for me, the kids don’t shy away from doing things that are “educational”; of course we’re slowly starting to run out of places to go.  Recently however we’ve been seeking out dog parks to take our puppy.  We found this wonderful one in Bay Shore called Gardiners County Park.  It was a lot of fun, there’s a long path that you walk down and at the end is the ocean.   The fun part was while we were walking down the path we had no idea that the other end held the ocean.  So all the dogs and their owners were coming back down the path toward us soaked and dirty.  Now just to clarify why this was so much more fun for me than it should have been, my wife is crazy about keeping everything clean.  The dog got 3 baths in one week because of her disposition to cleanliness.  And here we are walking toward a big old area for the dog to get just as dirty as he possibly can.  I could feel her worry grow with each passing mud packed tail wagging pup.  Of course the comments of the owners were helpful too “Boy that’s one clean puppy”, and “Someone keeps you very clean”.  All I could do was smile, I knew no matter what happened at the end of this path I was sure that not only was the dog going to be a mess but my wife just might get a bit messy herself.  Eventually we got to the end of the path which spilled into a small beach were the dogs and owners could get a little wet in waves of the ocean water.  There wasn’t much of an undertow from the waves, and they were only inches high, nothing like the waves at Jones Beach or anything.  Just slight waves like an active lake would have.  Unfortunately the dog didn’t like the water too much so there wasn’t much of a mess.  I ended up getting the wettest in my attempt to coerce the pup into the water with a treat.  This worked but once he got the treat ran back on shore.  We met a family with a similar dog there and talked a bit.  Eventually we left, walking the trail back to the beginning.  We found Mr. Softy there and enjoyed some time together with a bit of teasing and laughing and all the little things that make moments like this memorable and fun.  It was then that I realized that all the people that were around us enjoying their time didn’t stop to think if I was a dad or a step-dad, all I was doing was being I.  When I was a kid and went out with my family on little trips and what not, I didn’t think I had to act like my parents son.  And with that same idea when we as parents/step-parents go out we don’t think we have to act like the parent of these children.  Ultimately we have to just be ourselves, and as long as we do that, as step parents, we’ll get the respect we suspect a parent would get.

This past Monday we went to Pennsylvania to go visit my 19 year old who’s away in school.  Since the wife and I both had the day off from work, we thought we’d just take a quick day trip to go have lunch and have the family all together for a few hours.  What a trip…  This was a sort of test run for me, as next week I’ll be driving the family out to Hershey Park, Gettysburg, Lancaster, and all those other wonderful places around there.  And I’ll be doing that for a week.  So it should be interesting.  But that’s for next week’s post.  This week were talking about what can be done in one day.  And the day trip we took this last Monday was fun.  One of the big things you learn about the kids is their taste in music.  I, as the driver, always expect that the music that is played is according to my choice.  Let’s face it; I’m the one who’s driving here.  It’s not like I get to take a nap, read a book, stare off into the passing world, or generally speak on nothing in particular.  Well… Ok, maybe I can do that last one.  But the rest I’m bared from.  I’m driving after all.  I personally love the beach bum music, but there’s never any to be found, I enjoy good country but I know I’m the only one in the car that would, the only thing left that I like to listen to that doesn’t make me want to vomit is Classic Rock.  I’m sure as #@&* not going to put on any rap or other such nonsense music.  We went the entire two hours there listening to classic rock, and then for the entire 2 hours we were there we listened to classic rock.  But once we were on the road again heading home the meek little voice of my 17 year old decides she’s had enough of the classic rock.  After some unsuccessful attempts at different music selections that would enjoy too I decided to put the radio on scan.  Now for those who don’t know, scan is a setting most of today’s radios have.  It plays a station for about 30 seconds and then it changes to the next station it finds up the dial, and then repeats this process.  I tell my 17 year old to tell me when to stop.  About 15 minutes later I realize that we’ve gone through all the stations at least 3 times and no one has said a word.  Finally I asked why she hasn’t stopped me.  No one even really noticed that the radio was flipping through the stations for the past 15 minutes.  Sure once I piped up, everyone said they were wondering what I was doing, but the changing stations was apparently less annoying to my 17 year old than the classic rock I was listening too… I worry for the future of music.  The funniest thing about the whole music issue was that her maid complaint about the music was that it all sounded the same…  Classic rock all sounds the same?  And you’re comparing this to what?  Brittany Spears, or maybe Beyonce, maybe even Justin Beber?  Want to talk about music all sounding the same?  It’s amazing what you can learn about your kids when they’re hot and tired in the back seat of a long car ride home.

My nephew and his friends made up this very fun game and I’ve been playing it with him for what seems like forever.  And it’s a great car ride game.  It’s called … well it doesn’t actually have a name, but we’ll just call it the Twinkie Game.  The idea is to get the most points from spotting a twinkly while on the road.  But a Twinkie isn’t what you might think.  Not it’s not a yellow cake filled with white filling.  But instead it’s a yellow vehicle.  Now as it is a game here’s the rules.  1. Taxi Cabs and School Busses don’t count.  2. It must be self propelled by a mechanical engine.  3.  It must have at least two wheels.  4. You only get one point per Twinkie.  Now my mom and sister play this game too, and they like to call out extra points for unique Twinkies that they see, i.e. “Twinkie Plane, 10 point”.  Personally I feel that the harder Twinkies to find are the motorcycles so if any should be more points it’s that.  My little one likes to call out extra points for Twinkie punch buggies, and I always let her call whatever she wants.  Because once she starts loosing she gives up and quits.  As a matter of fact on the ride home she says ” I’m not playing anymore, but that doesn’t mean you win, cause I won and that the end of the game” of course I continued to play but she wouldn’t recognize any of the points I was getting.  Not that anyone else in the car was playing.  The older one only plays to beat out her sister whom in turn she does that in turn ends the game as the little doesn’t want to play anymore and if she’s not playing then there’s no point for the older one to play and I’m left high and dry wanting to just play and not getting anywhere…  But that’s their relationship that how they are going to grow with each other.  The older one will always be trying to prove that the little one is too young to “hang” with her, and the little one will always be trying to prove that she can “hang” with her.  Little do they both know that they are being forced to “hang” with me… oh and the wife too, of course.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to just spend time with your kids, even if it’s doing nothing.  Sooner or later a smile will pop out from somewhere and you’ll find that little connection can build big bonds between you.

As I mentioned I’m going away next week with the family.  So the chances of seeing a publishing an article next Saturday is pretty slim.  If you would like to “Step” up and try your hand at writing an article one week, I’m more than happy to leave the floor open to you.  Just shoot me an email and we’ll discuss it. I’ll have access to my email on my phone but it’s no good for publishing these articles.


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  1. JoAnnW says:

    Great post again. will miss you next week.

    Oh and btw,…”TWINKIE”

  2. Richard says: