It’s official! Joe and I have made it seamlessly through our first two months of marriage. Well, maybe “seamlessly” is a stretch, but it has truly gone much smoother than I would have expected. Blending two families into one (and fitting all of their junk and our junk into one big pile of junk) is not an easy task. But after two months, the rooms are pretty much set up to the kids’ liking and every day more things are finding their place – even if their place is in the yard sale pile.
And every day we are each finding our “place.” As can be expected, there is resistance on all of our parts in little ways – even with Joe and me. So far though it seems the biggest resistance is coming from my sweet boy.
My son was only four when his father and I got divorced. Since then he has had to grow up faster than most kids. He was fixing his own breakfast and getting dressed on his own from very early on. He is a very responsible kid, so I have not had to stay on him much about things. He does his work (most of the time) and he does his workouts and even if given the option to stay up, he usually chooses to go to bed at a reasonable time if he feels tired. For years now he has come home from school and fixed his own snack and done his work without being prompted or supervised. He has been the man of the house with a lot of independence for almost nine years, so this is a big change to now have three more people in the house – and more rules.
The thing he seems to be having the most trouble with is the food rationing. While that sounds rather harsh, it’s the best way to describe what we have been doing. We have told the kids that there are certain snacks and foods that are reserved for school lunches – prepackaged chips and cookies, Gatorades and chocolate milk. My boy just CANNOT get this. Every single day he asks, “Can I have a Gatorade?” or “Can I have a chocolate milk?” And we are still finding Oreo wrappers and chip wrappers in the basement playroom each night. When you tell him to make his own chocolate milk with milk & chocolate syrup, he looks at you like you have punched him in the gut.
I have a hard time cracking the whip on this because I realize that he has had to adapt to a lot of changes in his short life. At the same time, I know that my knowledge of this is being taken advantage of… He knows that I will cut him slack, so he pushes the envelope. He acts like he’s starving all of the time although we have told them there is limitless cheese & crackers, peanut butter & crackers, cereal, fruit, Easy Mac, etc. But he is smart enough to know that no mother can stand to hear their child say they are “STARVING TO DEATH.”
This week all four kids have been at basketball camp. When we took them all on Monday for sign in, I put $20 in each of their accounts for food. That may not sound like a lot, but it costs about $3 total for a lunch (with a drink) and we sent them each with a Gatorade, a pack of Oreos and some Nabs in their bags. My son came home on Tuesday and said, “I have $1 left in my account” and the sitter said that each day on the ride home he was eating his Oreos and Nabs in the car.
He spent $19 in two days!!! Even the rest of the kids were shocked. They all had about $12 left. In an attempt to persuade the remaining three to be frugal, we told them they could keep whatever money they had left in their account at the end of the week. I gave my boy $5 more (I had intended to give each $25 anyway, but wanted to see if they could make it) and sent them on their way. The girls were thrilled because they wanted to make it through the week on the original $20 so they could get $5 on Friday.
My son? Not so much… He apparently blew right through the additional $5.
This morning as I was walking to my office from the parking garage, my son called. He was frantic, “Mom, remember the $5 you owe me for pulling weeds last weekend? Can I get it for lunch?” Yes, he actually believed that I would leave work and drive to the camp to give him the $5 (insert laughing mom here). I told him that I was walking in to work and he would have to ask Joe. Joe had two $20 bills and four $1 bills, so he gave my son $4. Again, the other kids kept saying, “Seriously, WHAT have you been buying to already spend $25??” His response? “Just let it go!”
Tonight we are taking the kids to a baseball game. In an effort to save some money, we are ordering pizza and a 2-liter of Mountain Dew to have before the game so that we can just get the kids one snack each at the game.
I am already waiting for the backlash from my boy – the shoulder shrugs, the deep breaths, the mumbling, the talking back. He just does NOT seem to understand that our family has completely doubled in size, so the cost of food has doubled as well. He has always been so thin that I have encouraged his large eating habits. I still do, but I want him to eat smarter now. Buying snacks at camp and then eating the snacks he took to camp on the way home is NOT smart eating. It’s a waste of money.
Anyway, we are obviously a constant work in progress, but the important thing is the past two months have been so easy for all of us, with just a few minor hiccups (it’s amazing how unhappy people try to spread their unhappiness). Thankfully each attempt to cause misery only makes our family stronger. Our focus is on God, our relationship with each other, and getting the kids through this time of transition. Nothing else matters in the least.
And it’s obvious that the kids are adjusting well… When we are all spending time together, the constant smiles on their faces and the calmness in their spirits prove to us that everything is going to be just fine…
…and Joe and I agree that the past two months have been the best days of our entire lives.