We’re stuffed into the car running around town this summer, on the kind of morning where we have no agenda and still find ourselves busying to and fro. As often happens on this kind of morning, the kids and I are talking about internet memes, and staying away from drugs, and what’s for dinner the second Tuesday after never. You know, important stuff. We are passing my phone around looking at a Disney mashup meme, and Jack notices my profile picture. In it, I am wearing a shirt that proudly proclaims I am Simon’s mama.
“You have a shirt that says his name?” he asks. “Sure do. I have another one too, for Caden.” Predictably, Lottie pipes up from the way way back “Hey! What about me?” I briefly consider all the reasons I could tell her I don’t have a shirt with her name on it and decide to go with the truth – that when she came along I was so busy and overwhelmed by two little boys and an infant that I am pretty proud she learned to walk and talk. Ordering it is probably still on a crumpled to do list somewhere. No time for shirt ordering for number three.
This is an affront to the Littles – both third in line. They confer briefly and decide new shirts should be ordered. In fact, I should have shirts for each kid, they figure, proudly proclaiming my relationship to them. Sara and Amy quickly set them straight – no shirts needed. Parental anonymity suits those tweens just fine. Undeterred, the tribe continues tossing around shirt ideas. The favorite is a shirt that simply says Wicked. It stems from our family joke that I am failing miserably at being a wicked stepmother, and need to try harder. There are so many role models out there, after all.
Jack has been quiet for a while, and then says, “Can I have shirt?” “Sure, Bud. What would your shirt say?” I ask.
“I have an epic stepmother.”
Silence. “Do you know what epic means?” We’re navigating tough territory here. Jack is a straight talker, and aware that stepparents don’t always get rave reviews.
Awesome indeed. That little boy and I have a long history, and a year ago, he wouldn’t have wanted a shirt that connected us so publicly. Two years ago, he didn’t want any connection at all. I let that sink in a bit before focusing my attention back on the happy chaos in my car.
“Can I add it to my birthday list? I don’t want it as much as I want a turtle, though.”
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