E is for Evenings [The A-Z of Step-Parenting]

There are two types of evening: winter and summer. The winter ones go on for ever and the summer ones tend to be fraught with tension.

Previously my weekday evenings were relaxed, docile affairs. I’d come home from a day at work, cook, eat, shower, read, complete any small jobs, watch a little TV and then sleep. A perfectly innocent way in which to spend a little relaxation time.

The opposite is now true. I rush home to either prepare the dinner or help to polish it off. Our evening meal will consist of three variations of the same meal. This is to appease all and ensure everyone has eaten. Apparently it’s not possible for us all to eat the same.

Then there will be the game of persuading the youngest lad to put the kettle on for our cup of tea. This can be done quickly or slowly and there seems to be absolutely no rhyme or reason as to whether a spurt of energy will be used in this chore.

I then spend ten or fifteen minutes trying to work out who should be doing the dishes on this occasion and whether a firm persuasive kick is needed to get the job done, or whether I should get out of the way and wait for it to be completed. If it’s the latter than it means the kitchen is out of use for the rest of the night.

The tension has already been raised — will the dishes get done? Will homework be completed to a good standard? Will tomorrow’s clothes be ready? Why is there no milk, and did no one think to get any? That’s before we’ve even thought about watching the news.

That takes me onto the TV. I don’t have a real desire to watch anything on the TV unless it involves a sports field. My wife likes to watch the soaps. The lads like to watch ‘rubbish’. I quickly learnt the rule of the house is if you’re sat down first you choose what’s on the box regardless.

This inevitably leads to separate rooms being occupied with several TVs on the go at once. Before I moved in with my family I objected vehemently to multi-TV homes. Now I’m in one I couldn’t imagine life without them.

I have therefore substituted pleasant evenings in peace and quiet pleasing myself for stress-inducing night times that are punctuated by chaotic comings and goings.

Add to all that the ever revolving front door of the lads friends disturbing what little peace there is. That is why I have returned to the gym and taken on an extra game of football in an attempt to gain a little peace and quiet.

This is part five of the “A-Z of Step-Parenting” series by Paul Nevitt, a 33-year-old male with plenty of experience of living with stepchildren. Visit his adoption blog too.

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