That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’ve reached my limit of O.P. P. Now I’m not talking about the recent hit song by Naughty by Nature. That song is about Other Peoples’ “Property.” No. My O.P.P. stands for Other People’s Problems or more specifically, Other People’s Progeny.
Kids! First of all, my children live with me. Regular readers of this column know that I don’t have to tie sandbags around Phillip and Jenny’s ankles to keep them from floating off to heaven. They aren’t perfect. Not even close.
In the last eight years I have been involved with three women and their six children. Four of these children, all girls, were step kids for a time. These six children filled the scale from precocious at one extreme to the kid who is the poster child for Planned Parenthood at the other. One dragged her own personal black cloud with her wherever she went. And the other three were just kids from broken homes who had more baggage than they could sometimes carry.
All six of these children have had some effect on Phil, Jenny, and I. Now this wasn’t all negative. Not by a long shot. But the bad is beginning to outweigh the good.
When I divorced Jen & Phil’s mother in 1985, I told my friends David and Jack that any future relationship I had would include more children. This was my logic:
I. If I got involved with a woman it would lead to marriage.
II. I already had two kids and was not going to father anymore.
III. The woman was going to be a step-mother.
IV. Either she already had kids or she would only have Phil & Jenny for children.
V. It was probably easier to find a woman with strong maternal instincts in her thirties who already had children than it would be to find one satisfied with experiencing motherhood as a step-parent.
As you can see, LOGICAL. There is nothing quite like the analytical male mind. Nothing, including reality. Just because something works in theory does not guarantee that it will work in the real world.
One of the problems I never anticipated was that I would have any trouble loving, much less liking, any of the children I acquired. Through all my years of volunteer work in the public schools as a teacher and coach as well as my experience with the children of relatives and friends, I got along famously with all of the kids. Children tend to be comfortable with someone who is straightforward, who sets guidelines, and who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself.
But the last eight years have been difficult. So many different agendas. So much baggage dumped on our doorstep. Just when Phil, Jen and I think that we have dug ourselves out from beneath the load, a forklift drops another on us.
New relationships don’t bring a woman into our lives. No, a new relationship is the equivalent of an invasion by a full battalion. We get the woman (who is unfortunately seldom the commanding officer of the horde), the children (who often are the real control), the ex-husband, ex-boyfriends, close girlfriends, parents and siblings. As with all invading armies, their first action is to overrun the countryside, declare victory, and then try to convince you that you invited them into your home.
By the time you sort out all of the players (G-d I wish they’d wear name tags) you are two or three months into the relationship. You are already committed, or ready to be. But the real source of conflict still seems to be the children and the parent’s relationship with them. If the children refuse to allow the peaceful union of the adults, the relationship fails. Period.
Well, I’ve walled off the house and fortress Cunix won’t be invaded again for awhile. For the moment, at least, I’m looking for a woman who rides alone.