As a parent, how many times have you said, “If you two don’t stop that fighting right this minute, I’m going to stop this car!” How many times have you made good on it and actually done it? I have. Once on the way home from school, my stepsons were fighting in the back seat and actually came to blows over top of the — occupied — car seat of their newborn sister, who was in between them. And I do mean newborn; she was only a few days old. I’ve never been so angry. I pulled the car over — it was a quiet side road — and actually made them get out of the car and stand on the side of the road. I even put the car in gear and drove away a few feet.
Then there are the parenting fails. Once my daughter came home from the second grade in a bout of angry tears. She was so mad at me. Turns out I sent her to school with an empty lunchbox. Starting the next day, I was removed from lunch-packing duty — apparently I was not to be trusted — and she packed her own lunch for the rest of her school career.
There are the times you help them out of scrapes that they’ve gotten themselves into even though you could see it coming and warned them away from whatever brilliant plan they were hatching. My oldest stepson and his best friend decided in their sophomore year in college to get a dog. I was horrified. I told him, in no uncertain terms, three things: First, getting a dog while you’re in college is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, and I forbid you to do it. Second, if you do get a dog, don’t get a puppy. Don’t buy a purebred from a pet store, rescue an adult dog from a shelter. And third, if you do get a dog and it doesn’t work out, under no circumstances is this hypothetical dog coming here. So off they went and ignored all of my advice, purchasing an expensive purebred six-week-old pug puppy from a pet store in the mall — on a credit card, no less (thankfully not ours!). And guess where this dog lives now?
Parenting — and stepparenting — is fraught with joy, and with obstacles. And fear for your children, and uncertainty about whether you’re doing this parenting thing right. I like to think on the whole I’ve done a good job of it, although I’ve certainly made mistakes. My husband and I have had the joy of raising a daughter, and of raising two stepsons in conjunction with their mother and stepfather. It wasn’t always smooth sailing — those boys were a handful — but in the end we did it, and I think all four of us are proud of what they’ve achieved.
Welcome to our first parenting issue. Such a challenge…such a big subject, what to include in the limited space in the magazine? Parenting has so many sides, so many facets, so many questions. I hope you enjoy — and possibly learn from — the topics we’ve selected to present this issue.