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Smart Stepfamilies

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A Touch of Inspiration Out of the Mouth of Babes




By Melissa Skaggs


"I want the wishbone!" yelled Saundra, my eleven year old step-daughter.  I was hurriedly cutting our Easter turkey, and she and several siblings were watching the process.  "I want to pull it with you," Jared said, rather quietly.  He is her eight year old step-brother, the quiet one of the bunch.  My stomach clenched, as it does many times a day, waiting for the ensuing argument to come.  Strangely, this time, it didn't.  Arguments, cries of "that's not fair!", and general feelings of dissention are frequent occurrences since we've all turned into a real live "Cheaper by the Dozen."   Our kids even call out "seat back" when they get up from sitting so that their spot doesn't get taken while they get a drink, get a book, etc. Almost three years ago, my two boys (who lost their dad to divorce) and I married a man with nine children (who had lost their mom to cancer).  Then, we had a baby!  The Littles, the Middles, the Bigs, the Married, and the Baby, as I refer to them—eight boys and four girls, compose our family—ten of which live at home.  Number eleven comes home from college on weekends and breaks.  Every day, nine of us leave in our 15 passenger van for school and work.  In the past three years, we've learned a lot about meshing!  After one year of marriage, my third and last baby, the only "ours" in our family, was born with Down's Syndrome.  The look on the Littles' faces, when I told them their little Jacob would have a harder life, that there was no medicine or treatment to fix what he had was unforgettable. 


The wishbone?  Broke in private, Jared and Saundra came running in excitedly immediately after Easter lunch, while I was still at the table with Jacob in the highchair beside me.  "MOM!"  "The wishbone broke EXACTLY in half, so we BOTH get the wish AND we wished for the SAME thing!"  Saundra and Jared were wiggling with excitement.  I just had to ask what their identical wish was, thinking to myself probably a much desired vacation to the beach, or at least to a near-by theme park.  They stilled my heart with their answer.  "We wished that Jacob would grow up as normal as he could be, that he will run and play whatever we do and that he will be able to be all that he wants!" 


I looked at them; I looked at Jacob for a long time, and a rare hush filled the room so thick I could feel it.   As I let this moment wash over my heart, I realized that some of life's greatest step-family lessons were ahead of me, to be taught by all my kids.

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