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“I see bugs,” I tell him.


“Well I do. I’m that good. I see germs crawling all over your hands and the kids’ too.”

He smirks, and writes down wash hands.

We recently moved in together and on the advice of a friend (Jim) are trying to agree on house rules for the kids. Jim said I get five rules, but I’m going with mom’s suggestion. “Stick with one for now.” She’d recommended.

“I want hand washing before every meal.”
And after school and after playing outside and after going to the bathroom and when they pick their nose and when they have greasy popcorn handsbut then I’d become the evil stepmom.

“Ok. What else?” He asks, pen in hand.

“That’s all for now.”

“Oh come on.  I know there’s more.”

Yes plenty more.  If we went by my Middle eastern upbringing, there would be 50 more. For crying out loud, we had to stand up when the grownups entered the room. I’m not trying to be difficult. It’s the role I don’t like. For most of my life my relationships were positive and happy. I’m not sure how to navigate a role that has a negative connotation before it even begins. Evil stepmom (thanks to disney) makes “I hate the dentist,” look like a piece of cake.

He adds his own items plus those he imagines would make my life easier. Once he finishes writing, we are at ten.

The kids won’t be back for another week. By the time they do, the list will end up in the recycling bin and we are back to needing to be loved by them, each of us expecting the other to do the disciplining.

…And the frustration cycle repeats.