Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday, 12 December 2010

My stepson

I have been a little bit avoiding talking about our trip to Disney World because, well, it wasn't exactly the perfect vacation we had been hoping for. You may be thinking - well, SLG, it doesn't really matter what you thought of it as long as the kids had fun. Well, I was driving home with Natali tonight and she confessed that she would have much rather stayed at home in Denmark than have been in Disney World. Maybe that was true, but maybe she'll also have memories that will stick with her a long time.

And my parents got to spend time with all of them, which made everyone happy.

And when I say "all" of them, yes, my step-son, Andreas was there, too. And, while I love seeing him, we all seem to have trouble understanding how to relate to him. And the truth is, none of us really knows him anymore. We all expected it to flow naturally, but it didn't really. You can actually see in all of the pictures, that he has placed himself a bit to the side, as if he always felt a bit outcast. And it makes me sad in retrospect.

Things started out strangely when he called SR "Jeff" (SR's real name is not Jeff, btw) multiple times and then called him "grandpa". For SR, who had been with Andreas day in and day out from when he was born until he was five, this was very surreal.

And Andreas has perfected ambivalence torwards adults. It didn't matter how many times any of us asked him to do something, he would just pretend he wasn't listening or loudly say "No!". And who can blame him, I guess? Who were we to suddenly step in his life and tell him what to do? But it was to the point where he wouldn't dress himself and pretended he didn't know how to put on his velcro shoes (he is 7, by the way). And when we finally got to the park, he refused to go on bascially any ride - even The People Mover. And this lasted all four days we were at the theme parks.

At some point, I started to feel I was being too hands off with Andreas and allowing SR and my dad to do all of the reprimanding. After a couple of days of him only eating junk food between meals, I told him at noon he could eat nothing until he had a piece of fruit or some veggies. I didn't think it was possible, but he actually ate nothing the rest of the day.

When I said good-bye to Andreas the last day, I was again yelling at him because he refused to put on his shoes. And now he's gone from our lives for another few months. And he doesn't really understand who I, SR or my parents are.

(But if you asked Andreas for his version of me, he would say that I fell asleep early every night instead of taking him to the pool and was running while they were eating breakfast.)

Let me just say this: being a parent in a family with a happy marriage is easy. Okay, not easy, but so natural and the kids grow up with a sense that the loving people in their lives will always be there. And they become happy and trusting (and thus easy to parent).

Being a parent of a kid from a broken marriage, who you hardly get to see, is really difficult. Not because you don't want to love them. I was going to say it is harder being the step-parent, but actually, it is harder for SR. And you know what: it's worst for the kid.

But what can we do?

One person, who has no trouble deciding what to do is The Lorax, who worships the ground "Big Guy" (Andreas) walks on. He talks about his older brother on a daily basis, though he only sees him a couple times a year. It is actually kind of incredible the way they get along. He they are, leaving me behind in the jaws of death.
And one other thing: if there are enough bubbles involved and SLG has a beard, everyone will be at least slightly amused.

And there were times when Andreas was really fun. He had this game of going on It's a Small World again and again with The Lorax. And taught The Lorax how to draw robots. And he conquered the biggest waterslide at Old Key West, showing everyone how fun waterparks can be. I have to imagine that this side of him would come out more often if we had a chance to get to know him well again.


Anonymous said...

SLG, Why does the boy live with his mother and the girl live with her father? Maybe the boy wants to live with his dad, too. I don't know the background here. That's hard to deal with for four days.
Lynne in MD

sea legs girl said...

Hi Lynn

Thanks for commenting. Yeah, with us living in Denmark and their mom living in the US, either we would not get to see the kids at all or we would get one full-time. It ended up we got Natty. And we often talk about whether Andreas should switch and live with us for a while. It's not an easy situation for the kids to be moving all over the world. And that's why we'll probably end up moving back to the US eventually.

Kirsten said...

I guess the kid is just feeling let down by not seeing his father and then when he does see him, he has this other family with him where Andreas feels left out.....And goes into regression to get some attention - better being yelled at than feeling outsider. So he made some heavy points about being unhappy about the situation since he doesn't have words to express himself.
You probably did the best you could to make him a part of the gang and setting some limits to his behaviour was definitely in its place. But of course it's a bad feeling to leave this little sad person behind....Do you have a possibility to have him come over to Dk to visit? Then it would be your turf and might be easier and would probably do him good. Maybe you know somebody travelling that could acompany him.....

olga said...

Yep, coming back to US would be the best option, even if not a solution. Not just to US, but same town, or within driving distance, to make it weekly meets. Is it possible? I don't know. Will it be too late? I don't know either...

sea legs girl said...

Thanks Kirsten and Olga for your thoughts. Really - that is why I posted it. I just need to hear what other people think of the situation. It means a lot to me that you guys took the time to write.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Wow. That's really tough all around.

I hope it works out better for you in the future. It's great that the Lorax worships Andreas - it probably makes him feel like a Big Man, which is probably the very type of ego boost he needs.

Good luck with this relationship, sister!

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

I sympathize. SR must have been stricken by not being acknowledged as "Dad". It does sound like more contact with Andreas rather than less is what is needed. Good luck not taking his aloofness personally- the kid is just confused.

That said, I made a move so that my boys could spend more time with their dad and it came back to bite me. They resented me for moving them away from their friends, and their dad spoiled them into big brats. I don't believe they or our relationship ever recovered. If you're going to try reuniting the families, it might be best to do so well before the kids hit adolescence. (Just my 2cents)


Danni said...

Yeah probably the best thing from the kiddos' perpsective would be if you all lived nearby. Move to Madison so I have more reasons to get back to the Terrace (do you even drink beer?).