I’ve now spent a full week with the Boys since the Lovely Man told them about our engagement.
It felt like a long week.
As we expected, they didn’t have a huge amount to say about us getting married. After all, weddings are not usually high on the interest/excitement list for tweenage/pre-teenage boys even in the best of circumstances.
Then, of course, what little they said was well-tinged with ambivalence, and interspersed with plenty of acting out. Again, as expected.
Our goal is to talk about it in a low-key, happy way without forgetting that it’s really a celebration for us, not them.
We try to check in with them, see how and what they are each feeling and address whatever concerns and worries they have.
Plus, while there’s certainly no expectation that the Boys will or should feel at all celebratory, we also don’t want to overplay the whole topic to the point where they start to wonder if us getting married is actually the End Of The World As They Know It.
It’s not an easy balance, and the things that are starting to leak out aren’t necessarily what I would have expected.
For instance, all the Boys mentioned the idea of us having more children. Thankfully, and unlike a number of our less-than-tactful acquaintances, none of them asked whether we were getting married because I was pregnant.
(I’m not. Just saying.)
For instance, Boy C said:
If you were to have boys that would be REALLY COOL but if you have girls then we’ll have to get earmuffs to block out all the squealing!
[That's right, Boy C, because there is certainly no squealing to be heard in a house populated by three boys. Banish the thought!]
At one point, Boy C also draped a (clean) Chux cloth over my head and said:
That’s what you’re going to look like when you get married!
Yeah, thanks. I can’t wait.
Boy B, when asked by the Lovely Man whether he would come to our wedding, said:
Okay, just as long as I don’t have to do anything annoying!
Fear not, Boy B, there will be no embarrassing tuxedos or corny interpretative dance performances or unity candle rituals.
If any of the Boys want to be involved in the ceremony then that’s fine, and they will be given the option in a non-pressuring way just so they know they are welcome, but I couldn’t think of anything worse than pushing reluctant kids to be ring bearers or do a sand ceremony for the sake of demonstrating what a happy little Brady Bunch we are[n't].
Boy A hasn’t had anything specific to say on the W topic, except to ask the Lovely Man whether anything would change about our time with them, and be told, that no, it wouldn’t.
He did have one gem for me, though.
After pretty much ignoring me all week, one morning while the Lovely Man was working and I was trying to orchestrate the school run solo he approached me with an obviously school-issued bit of paper and said:
Boy A: B, I wouldn’t normally let you sign something so important, but this has to be in today and Dad’s not here. Can you do it?
Me: Sure. Pass it over and let me look at it.
So, was it a government-required receipt for exam results, without which he wouldn’t be allowed to proceed to high school? Or perhaps an official authorisation for him to participate in advanced pre-military combat training?
I giggled to realise that this Document Most Imperative was…. an order form for his class commemorative tee-shirt! with payment not required until next year!
Wowwee. I can totally see why he might have hesitated to consign something so important to my questionable authority.
Finally, Boy C has let a couple of things slip that make me think he is a bit uncertain about whether the roles in our household will change.
One night when the Lovely Man got called into work I took the Boys to a model-painting activity at a megalopolis shopping centre on the other side of town as a treat. When I delivered them to the painting area, the supervisor said something inane like:
Oh look, kids. Mum has come along to paint as well!
As previously described, these kinds of comments lead to ructions if they go unaddressed, so I said:
I’m not their mum, actually.
And Boy C chimed in with: What are you then, B?
Me: Well, what do you think of me as, Boy C?
Boy C: I know! An ugly old stinky granny?!
Later, as I drove Boy C home, we talked about how that wasn’t a nice thing to say and that it hurt my feelings. He said he was sorry, but I could tell he was a bit thoughtful, and he still sounded confused.
Me: It sounds like you’re wondering what I am to you, Boy C.
Boy C: Yeah. What are you, again? What about when you and Daddy get married?
Me: Well, I’ll be your stepmum, I guess. But you could also say that I’m your dad’s partner, and call me by my first name like always. Or you could call me [Nickname] like Nephew 1 calls me. You could even say I was your step-[Nickname], if you wanted.
Boy C: Could I say that you’re my step greek salad? Or my step chicken schnitzel? Or my step hyper-baric-roller-rocket? Or my….
[and he went on to generate an enormous stream-of-consciousness list drawn from what we had eaten for dinner, his favourite toys of the moment, things that had happened at school and half a kazillion other sources. NOBODY does stream-of-consciousness nonsense-generation as well as Boy C.]
Me: Absolutely, Boy C. As long as it’s nice, you can call me anything you want.