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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Introducing the (un)Wicked Stepfather.

Scotto photobombing Julia Gillard

What sort of bloke would take on a divorced mother of five children under the age of fourteen? A very crazy one with a sense of adventure I’d say. 

Scotto’s first introduction to my rambunctious brood took place at a basketball stadium where Hagar was tearing up and down the court like Shane Heal in his hay day (bleached hair included). 

As a basketball fan and ex-player Scotto was thrilled at the fact that four out of my five kids were obsessively into the game. Many hours were spent bonding with the kids in the driveway as he tussled and hustled his way into damaging the already eroded cruciate ligament in his knee. 

Over the past eight years we have attended hundreds of the kids’ games, even travelling as far as Perth to watch Hagar play in the National Titles.

It hasn’t always been like a scene from the Brady Bunch though. My kids have some… how can I put it nicely… idiosyncrasies, that Scotto had to familiarise himself with. 

I recall early in the relationship an unconventional Thaddeus turned to me and with a dead pan demeanour asked,
“So Mum, have you told Scotto about the operation you had to remove your tail?” 

Why Thaddeus would say something so obscure I can’t tell you, but he did and the look that flashed across Scotto’s face was one of repulsion, shock and fear all rolled into one.

It must have been like moving in with the cast of Malcolm in the Middle for Scotto. On occasion we would return from a short shopping trip to find the three eldest boys unlawfully sitting on the roof throwing waterbombs down on the younger two frolicking in the garden below.

The first evening I left Scotto to babysit alone while I was doing a Uni exam I returned to find him and Thaddeus in the driveway waiting for me.

“Don’t panic,” he said anxiously, “She’s okay… but Lulu has hurt herself.”

“Head? Teeth?” I cried urgently, hoping he was going to say neither. 
It was her head. She’d been playing handball with Padraic on the back patio under Scotto’s watchful gaze and had run into a pole and cut her head. There was blood everywhere. 

We arrived at the doctors with a barefoot, bloodied Scotto (the psychopathic stepfather) carrying an iced up Lulu (who looked fairly relaxed in the circumstances). Two stitches later she was as right as rain but I don’t know what impression it made on the doctor.

Ten (and a half, so he reminds me) years younger than me, Scotto imparted a fresher and more youthful approach to parenting into our family compared to my jaded, grumpy, jaundiced outlook. 

He laughs a lot which put out the fire in many of the family squabbles. He’s been here for all the eighteenth and twenty-first birthdays; the awards nights, the plays, choirs, football games and all the other things parents do.

Thrust into the role of ‘step-father of teenagers’ at such a young age has had its frustrations. They steal his T shirts, socks and Bourbon for a start. They’re happy to take his money and eat the lunch he prepared for work the next day, but then roll their eyes at him if he gets cranky at them for leaving every light in the house on. 

One birthday Hagar generously bought Scotto a bottle of Midori. When Scotto took it out of its box a few weeks later for a wee tipple it was bone dry empty. Someone had clearly got to it before him. Nice.

Sometimes the old chestnut, “You’re not my father! You can’t tell me what to do!” rears its ugly head but that’s when I step in with an ineffectual, 

“Yes but I’m your bloody mother so you’ll do it anyway.”

Over the past eight and a half years the guilty thought has crossed my mind that perhaps I should have remained single and devoted every living moment to the kids; inhabiting a lonely martyr- like existence. 

Then I think about how very soon they will all be establishing their own families and fluttering forth from the nest on unsteady wings. 
Nah, now I get to spend the rest of my life happy.