My role as a step-mom is under constant revision but I had the ultimate revelation this morning. See being a woman with no bairns of my own, I have only theories. Some are very good but many conflict with reality. Also, my newly acquired short-ones have four parents -- two they love and two they tolerate, playing off of fears and issues that this situation creates. It's so much fun I could sniff an onion.
So here it is World! Here is the answer to pie: I'm not a parent. Nope. I'm their friend. We know each other because we all three love a mutual person. As a friend, I can listen to their concerns. We can squeal as we race around the living room in strange versions of tag with rules ala Calvin. We'll build forts and watch scary movies. We'll apply zombie make-up to each others' faces for Halloween.
Hey wait - that's what we already do.
When they're at our house, they'll follow their father's parent-type rules with parent-like consequences. My rules are for all guests in my home. So I'll be me and ask for please and thank you. I'll be me and prefer tidiness and books to chaos and video games.
Repeat -- I am not a parent. I am an intruder with good itentions and taking off the pressure to make the children accept a fourth parent could clear the way to fewer tug-o-wars with Dad as the rope.