Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Hey, Baby.

Everything you need to know about parenting can be found in 1989's "Parenthood." Remember after Keanu Reeves is in that car crash and Martha Plimpton goes running over to him and thinks he's dead? And a young Joaquin Phoenix asks his mum (Dianne Wiest) why she helps them out so much?

"Well, because Julie wants Todd. Whatever you guys want, I want to get it for you. That's the best I can do."

My stepdaughter Phoebe-Rose will be sixteen soon. She came to live with us almost two years ago. I first met her when she was three. THREE. And now she's this being, this separate entity with her own thoughts and ideas and loves and everything.


To behold such beauty and power has been quite frankly, terrifying. Phoebe and I have danced around each other, not even maintaining eye contact because the energy between us is so great. I've made so many mistakes, threw my hands up in the air, felt confounded and frustrated and so very confronted. She comes swaying into the room and the boys jump over her, smothering her with questions and chatter. Rocco is besotted .. just this morning he woke up and came out smiling.

"Mum, I had a dream that I kissed Phoebe. On the lips."

Should I be worried? That's the biggest question I ask myself in parenting, over and over again. Babies grow up and into teenagers and you start talking about smoking and drugs and fights and money. It's a completely new ballgame, and none of us have any idea what we are doing. Hopefully they'll make it to adulthood. Maybe forget keeping them wrapped up and protected, but teach them how to live in a confusing and often brutal world?

Eventually I threw all my "stepmother" cards and rules off the back deck. I wish I could tell and show all of my kids exactly what to do but they're going to have to learn shit for themselves. It's my job as a parent to love them, feed them, not mess them up too much, and be there when they fall because man they're gonna FALL. (Beside myself at the thought of them falling how far I fell.)

"Ok. How about .... I'm not a stepmother anymore. How about, I'm just a person in your life who cares for you very much and I'm just right here if you ever need me?"

She laughed. She never needs me. That's ok, but my GOD I want her to like me. Last week we were going through boxes in the garage and she found a photo of her family all together, looked at it for a while. Ten minutes later I found a photo of my family all together, from the 70's. I showed her, we agreed how weird it is to see your family looking like - a family.

Everybody in her life is just doing their best. I need to give her a copy of Women Who Run With The Wolves and as many Tori Amos CD's as I can. She needs to know not to give away her sex like I did. She needs to know how powerful she is, and she will learn it for herself when she needs to learn it.

I completely judged her boyfriend before I'd even met him. Kacper (pronounced 'Casper') is nineteen, and actually really nice. His speech is littered with obscure film and pop-culture references. He drives a shitty car, goes to uni, has a job at a Chinese takeaway. He missed his calling as a grungy hipster in the nineties. They're a really cool couple.

Kacper fronts a band called Hey Baby and in his new film clip he's smoking a cigarette, wearing a dress, high heels, and singing about addiction. Dave and I watched it together just kind of ... awestruck. (Dave thinks Lou Reed, I reckon Robert Smith.)

Phoebe and Kacper are my boys favourite babysitters. Our life together is messy and probably not entirely appropriate for other people but hey, that's parenthood.

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