A Requirement When Living With Men and Boys: Thick Skin and a Serious Sense of Humor

Tonight, my two stepsons arrived for our 26 allotted hours of Christmas Eve togetherness—from 6 p.m. today, December 23, until 8 p.m. tomorrow, Christmas Eve—per my husband’s and his ex’s visitation schedule.  This brought the number of males in our household to four, with me as the lone estrogen producer.  And, we have another son on the way, so, in the spring, the tally will be 5 to 1.

In my family of origin, I am oldest child and only daughter, with four younger brothers, so I’m accustomed to this.  But, growing up, I had my mother in the house too.  Here, I’m on my own, surrounded by burps, farts (and, oh how I HATE that word), upright toilet seats, year-round sporting events, violent video games, toy guns (and, oh how I HATE guns), swords, light sabres, and so on. 

I know few princesses except for those of my childhood—the standard Cinderella and Snow White—but I know the names of every construction vehicle, every train in the Thomas® line, and dozens of dinosaurs. 

And, I know to have a thick skin because even sweet men and boys, like my husband, my 15-year-old and 13-year-old stepsons and my 4-year-old son, can be insensitive—sometimes in their attempts to get laughs and sometimes just because they’re clueless.

Tonight, although I had set our table for dinner, my husband and sons wanted to eat while watching TV, so I relented, tonight being a casual pizza night.  When I walked into our living room with my plate, the men in my life had already taken over the two couches and comfy chair, leaving only my 4-year-old’s stool open.  I asked my son to move to his stool, so I could have the comfy chair, which reclines, perfect for pregnant me.

He turned around and asked in all seriousness, “Why?”

“Because I’m pregnant.”

As my son obediently moved to his stool, my 15-year-old stepson, reclining on a couch, laughed, “That’s a great excuse for anything.”

Egged on by his brother, my son insisted, “You could have sat on my stool.”

“Do you really think my big ‘tush’ would fit on that stool?”

“Believe me, it wouldn’t,” my husband replied.

“You see,” I said.  “I’m the size of a small country.”

“More like a continent,” said my stepson.

Undeterred, I dug into my slice of deep-dish pizza.  But only one slice.

Then, at bedtime tonight, my son turned off his overhead light, then paused next to the bed, stalling.  “If I turn off this light,” he said, referring to the one on his nightstand, “I’ll be scared.”

“You don’t need to be scared.  I’m here.  And, do you really think anyone is going to mess with your big mama?”

“A dinosaur is bigger than you.”

Once again, undeterred, I said, “Yes, but dinosaurs died a long time ago, so you don’t need to be scared.”

I know I’m big.

Continent big.

Almost-as-big-as-a-dinosaur big. 

So, I laugh along with them. 

Then I tell them that they’d better watch out, because I could crush all of them just by sitting on them.

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