Life has settled into something of a normal pattern. Or at least as normal of life as one can expect with three daughters under the age of 5 and one angsty step-son.
Those fears of mine which continued to rear their head every time Penny told me she was pregnant have subsided now as I see that I can slide into the role of “father.”
At least to my own children. Calvin’s concerns about losing the attention of his mother were only increasing with each new sibling that we welcomed home.
And a deep resentment of his half-siblings has created a hostile arrangement between him and everyone in the household.
Teresa and Vivian, our two oldest girls, get along wonderfully. Penny was worried that bringing home a sibling so soon after Teresa was born would be hard on her, but the girls are inseparable.
And now it doesn’t seem right to think of just having one. Especially since the girls can entertain themselves. A wonderful gift to any parent, the silence of children entertaining each other.
But the girls don’t respond well to him, as if they can pick up on his deeper feelings that he may be able to repress temporarily. His attempts at play turn the girls sour. Their reactions to his attempts, unfortunately, only make him more spiteful of them. As if he’s saying to himself “They don’t like me?”
Penny and I have talked about what needs to be done. She is the only one to whom Calvin will listen to. I know that his situation can’t be easy. I know that I probably am not giving him what he needs, no matter how much I try. So Penny and I have decided that I will take on primary parenting duties for the girls so that she can dedicate more time and attention to Calvin.
And we’ve also decided that he needs his father, his real father, back in his life.
Wolfgang had entirely been absent from Calvin’s life since Penny and I got married. Partly, or largely, because of me. I couldn’t put aside our previous encounter or the resentment I held against him for his relationship with Lilly and Penny to welcome him into our home.
I realize now that I’ve been punishing Calvin for the sins of his father, and it was hurting Calvin. It was contributing to him acting out, to him hating me and his sisters. Again, I realized I failed as a step-father.
To be fair though, Wolfgang wasn’t exactly willing to play a role either. And it wasn’t without some arguments that we finally convinced him that he needed to step up.
“Your son is struggling, here, Wolfgang. I don’t think that it is too much to ask that you are just involved in his life. He needs a father, and you have never been that to him.”
“Yeah, but, he has you. And Galen. That’s–that’s good.”
“Good, but not enough. He needs you.”
“You and Galen keep me out of his life for 5 years! But NOW–NOW that he’s being a brat and you have your hands full you want me to take him off your hands! You can’t put this burden on me just like this!”
“How dare you! Do not refer to our son that way and do not think that I am trying to get him off of my hands. I’m trying to do what is BEST for him. I don’t care about you. This isn’t about you. It’s about whats best for him.”
“But that isn’t me! I’m not a father!”
“But you ARE his father! Goddammit, Wolfgang.”
“You’re right. I am. But I don’t know what he needs.”
“He just needs your attention.”
“So you like chess, huh?”
“Heh, yeah. I’m good at it.”
“Well you’ll have to teach me.”
After that, things were better. Not perfect, but more harmonious. Calvin got to spend a few days a month with Wolfgang and he soon came to worship the man who reluctantly assumed his rightful place as his father.
But with his outbursts subsiding things around the house were more enjoyable.
Hectic, of course.