5-Step Program


Now that I’m officially a Stepfather again, I’m trying to make sure I do it right with my three Stepchildren and two Stepdogs. At first, I considered the self-help book selection:

  •    -Winning the Heart of Your Stepchild. Too competitive.
  •    -In Step With Your Stepchildren. Too Teutonic.
  •    -7 Steps to Bonding With Your Stepchild. Too Steven Covey-ish.

And forget about Stepdog books. There aren’t any.

So, I just started thinking about the most important aspects of being a good dad to my Stepbrood. Of course the most crucial piece is telling them all apart. You know, making sure I don’t try and drive one of the dogs to softball practice or put Jack out on the leash.

Don’t laugh. It’s not that easy. A typical day is chaos:

Pre-school routine
Alarm goes off just after 6:00 AM. By “alarm,” I mean the incessant barking and whining of Bella and Nikki until they receive the dog food in their bowls. Sometimes Jill and Katie are up and around to help with this chore. And by “help,” I mean hiding in the bathroom, with the water running and the hair dryer on, pretending they can’t hear the barking.

There’s a crucial 90 seconds or so following the completion of the dogs’ meals. Unless you locate Bella within that narrow time frame, the smaller Chocolate Lab Stepdog (bless her little Stepheart) will decorate the carpet; she’s an artiste in either medium.

At some point before the girls’ bus arrives, they need some sort of breakfast. There is also barking and whining at this point. Not the girls, but the dogs, desperate to be let back in, so they can display their love for you by standing or sitting directly underneath you while you attempt to move.

The girls’ bus leaves at 7:14. But if they miss it (and why wouldn’t they?), they have to be driven to separate schools. About the time I return from those drop-offs, Jack is ready for breakfast and a ride to HIS school.

This whole 6-9 AM rush hour thing is something I’m happy to do, since (A) Beth has had the privilege of engineering this schedule for years, (B) I never had the joy of experiencing these activities, even with my own son, and (C) WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HIRE ME, SO CAN I START HOSTING A MORNING RADIO SHOW AGAIN?!?

Post-school routine
Track practice for Katie, softball for Jill, hockey for Jack–separate times, different facilities, miles apart. The shuttling begins at 2:45 and ends, including extra trips to deliver forgotten equipment or water bottles, at maybe 8:30.

It’s a full-time gig for ol’ Stad. An edited version of Stepdad, that’s the title Jack, 11, has assigned me. It reminds me of the nickname given to St. Joseph’s college basketball coach Phil Martelli by his grandson. The two Martellis went through the normal dance of potential names–Pops, Grandpa, Dada. None stuck, so the coach became The Unnamed Grandfather, and eventually just Tug.

So, in our house, Stad won out over the prior consideration of “Dav,” which Jack claimed was a combination of Dad and Dave. Good thing my name’s not Bob, which could’ve become Bad.

Any other brilliant stepparent stories or advice? Bring ’em on below in the Comments.

Dave Coombs has 30 years of morning radio experience and almost as much at being a dad.

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