The Step Dad: Scene 1

By: Wendy Rhein

Scene: 40-ish mother and 6-year-old son, lugging trash out of a nondescript apartment building’s back door. Son with Transformers backpack slung over one shoulder, looking up at the sky instead of at the potential but as of yet unrealized oncoming cars that his mother is always yelling about as he walks into the parking lot. Mother, hurried and listing to one side, struggles to balance a large plastic bag of trash, her laptop bag, purse, and lunch box of the boy’s. This is a real story with real people, not a dramatization.

Aannnndddd, ACTION!

“Mom, when are you getting married?”

“Who? What? I don’t know Nate. Why?”

“I need a step dad. And I can’t get a step dad until you get married.”

“Yes, that’s how that works. Why do you need a step dad? Is this something we can work on together like soccer or cub scouts? Because we’ve got that handled in our mom and sons family, right? Right? Or should we call Uncle Bob? Or Grandpa Bob?” (Lots of Bobs in our family.)

(Mom takes a deep breath.)

“No, I just need one. So when are you going to get married?”

“Well, honey, I don’t know. I would love to get you a step dad but we can’t just buy one at Target. There’s a process involved.”

“Mom, I know about dating. You have to date to get married. It’s a rule.” (Note the exasperated condescension of the world-weary 6-year-old.)

“Good, just so we’re clear on not getting an off-the-shelf step dad. I would rather have a custom built one…But you still didn’t tell me why you need a step dad right now. What is it that you want to do that you need a dad to do with you?” (Determined to attach the issue to a time-limited, time-sensitive thing that his mother can solve within her gender-bound limitations of not being a dad. Or a step dad.)

“Nothing now, Mom. But I need one and you need to date to get me one.”

“If I date that means time away from you, my love, and it would be time like dinner times and on the weekends. That’s why I haven’t done any dating since we moved.” (Sure, blame the lack of dating on the move. And play to the known weakness of your son wanting more, not less, time together. Mean. Manipulative. Clever.)

Silent consideration…

“That’s ok. You can be out if you’re on a date. But not if you’re just hanging out with your friends.”

“Huh. Have we met? When did you become a too smart for your own good 18-year-old? I could have sworn I was the grown up around here.”


“Come on Mom! This is what I want, OK? OK, I want my step dad to be able to make stuff out of metal and wood. He can design it and make it, cool stuff like machines and artificial legs. And I want him to know jujitsu, karate, and kung fu, so he can teach them to me. And he should be tall but not so tall it hurts my neck to see him. And he should drive a van.”

“A van? Like a minivan?” (Mother says with horror, while hurling a bag of trash into a little green house non-too-effectively disguising a dumpster.)

“How about a motorcycle?”

“We can’t put a car seat on a motorcycle; where would Sam go?”

“Ok, so a van for his job and he has a regular car too.”

“Deal. What else does your step dad need to be?”

“He should own a hardware store so he has access to tools and metal. And like to do stuff like camping, and hanging out. And legos. He should play some sports too.”

“What about being smart and funny and kind? And loving you, me, and Sam to the moon and back?”

“That’s your list, Mom, not mine.”


to be continued…..

The post The Step Dad: Scene 1 appeared first on The Next Family.

Wendy Rhein

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