They’ve both done it. They each said it. They used the F-Word. And I’m elated. It’s not so much that they used the word itself, that’s not a big deal. I’m elated because they used it in a context to include me.
To my surprise, it was Drake who said it first. After moving to the new house, we re-visited our Tribe Rules* which were written more than three years ago (and that’s about 30% of the boys’ lives!). It was time to look them over and update some of the lingo. Following a group discussion about how we could update/improve our code of conduct, Drake made a suggestion.
“We should have a Family Night,” he said.
My ears perked up when I heard the F-Word. “What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Well,” he began. “We should take turns picking an activity for Family Night… and everyone has to do the activity or else they have to go to bed early. Like, we could have a charades night or a Monopoly night or something.”
I thought that was a terrific idea. We’re still trying to formalize a Family Night schedule.
…Fast forward to last weekend. We went shopping on Friday evening to pick up some gear for the kayaking/canoe trip we’d planned for Saturday. While we were in the store, Josh became upset with his brother and, in a fit of rage, declared “I don’t want to be part of this family!”
I’m not sure what kind of response he was expecting to get from the rest of us. Boyfriend calmly asked him, “Why?”
“Because I don’t want to follow the rules,” he told us. “I want to be violent and hit [Drake]!”
At that point, the four of us sat on the floor in front of a display of life preservers. We reminded Josh that he’d agreed to our rules regarding respect and violence. We tried to talk about what was bothering him. Unfortunately there were no easy answers. We concluded our meeting, finalized our purchases and headed for the car. It was a bit of a miserable spot in the weekend.
…And yet, I have reason to smile. Both Drake and Josh have indicated that they view us as a family unit. Drake wants us to share more activities together. And Josh, begrudgingly at times, accepts our family rules as the values we all abide by. After many years of refraining from stating my feelings (so as not to make the boys uncomfortable), they have reached the same conclusion. For better or for worse, for now anyway, we are a “family”.
*For the complete story behind our Tribe Rules, check out my article in the March 2011 issue of StepMom Magazine