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[personal profile] cjwatson
I'm catching up on these postings a bit today after a lovely but busy couple of days, including going with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti to help to celebrate Chanukah over at [personal profile] liv's yesterday, lighting candles, acting out the story with [personal profile] jack and the children wearing home-made crowns and wielding plastic swords, eating doughnuts and latkes, and playing board games (which I don't think is quite required by the celebration but is clearly always a good idea anyway). Today so far I've mostly been clearing up at least a corner of our messy living room in an attempt to clear enough space to put up the tree; this is late for us, as my family tradition was always Second Sunday of Advent and we've normally roughly gone with that, but I don't actually think it truly matters overly much as long as it's up by the time Christmas itself starts.

It is indeed not always quite the most important thing to keep up with these memes, as a friend wisely observed to me yesterday; all the same, I'm quite prone to forgetting about this kind of thing if I'm not reasonably disciplined about it, so I'm spending a bit of time today getting back into sync. The Christmas season is coming up, but I do have a couple of those posts wholly or partially banked, so hopefully I'll still manage to keep up.

At any rate, [livejournal.com profile] badriya asked me about the experience of being an "incoming parent", coming into a child's life through a relationship with a parent. Thanks for this - it's a really good prompt!

I started going out with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and thereby came into B's life properly when he was a little under five, though I'd met him occasionally before then (I remember a small person in a pushchair at the Milton Arms, maybe [livejournal.com profile] sphyg's birthday party?). Of course it was a little while before I was in any kind of quasi-parental capacity there rather than just an adult who was often around the house; it was a shared house so this made less of a difference than it might have done in a two-parents-plus-children kind of household. Still, I remember going away to a conference in Brazil that first year, and being told that B had been finding Brazil on an inflatable plastic globe and telling people "that's where my Colin is", which was rather endearing.

Initially I set the rule for myself that while I was happy to back up [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and B's dad on their decisions, I wasn't going to try to make any rules myself; I didn't want to get into confusing matters by having three potentially conflicting sets of rules, or diluting his parents' authority, or whatever. This gradually changed over time as [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and I moved in together and later married, and I started getting used to being more clearly one of the main adults in his life.

Fortunately we've always remained on good terms with B's dad, which has helped enormously. I have no idea how I'd cope if there were conflict there. And I've never had to deal with the stereotypical "but you're not my real daddy" kind of thing, perhaps precisely because his dad's still in regular contact, although after an unsuccessful attempt to play us off against each other B was once heard to complain "what's the point of having two dads when they both say the same thing?"

Nowadays, B is a fairly well-adjusted and independently-minded teenager and we have two much smaller children, so the main challenge is making sure that they get fair (which isn't the same as equal) shares of attention. On the whole, I think I've managed OK as an incoming parent, but I can't really pat myself on the back about that too much because I think I was very fortunate in the situation I came into.

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
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