By ERIC PAYNE
As I dig through my life in the name of not being a hoarder spring cleaning, I recently happened upon some paperwork from my son’s high school. It was dated last year, back when he was in the 9th grade, back when we were knee-deep in his IEP process. It listed his academic history and his family history. The academic stuff I was used to. But seeing us in black and white letters threw me for a loop. The descriptions of us were clinical, anesthetized, devoid of love.
I was: Stepfather (a word I’ve come to loathe over the years)
Mom was: Mom (as always)
Baby girl was: Half-Sister
When I saw the words “half-sister,” I was transported right back to the moment when I first read them: sitting in an administrative office on one side of a fully occupied, large oval table, my face twisted. Much like that day, I read the report and was hurt. Disgusted. Insulted.
How dare they call her “half!” I remember thinking. What the f-bomb does that even mean? (Confession: I don’t curse out loud, but I do tremendously in my head) They don’t know how my son at the age of 10 jumped, both feet in, to care for his baby sister. He didn’t half help his mother get ready for the hospital when she went into labor (while I was speeding along in an ice storm to get to the hospital). He didn’t half often rock her to sleep once she was born. He didn’t half feed her. He didn’t walk halfway to the trash and leave her dirty diapers on the floor when asked to throw them away (though now every piece of garbage in his hands never ever seems to make it to the trash).
Conversely, his sister has NEVER half loved her brother, NEVER half hated him (as little sisters do), nor only half terrorized him, nor asked that he pick up only half of her when she is too tired or lazy to walk.
Of course I know that my son and his sister have two different fathers so they have only their mother as the shared parent their single source of shared DNA. But in our home, they are 100 percent siblings who receive 1,000 percent of their parents’ love. My daughter is none the wiser and my son has never considered otherwise. I don’t anticipate them changing course from this path and should they ever decide to, I am fully prepared to fiercely shut down one and/or both of them.
My mother’s father was DAD to the six kids he had with my grandmother and he loved the three she already had when they met as if they were his own. As a child my uncle and aunts were my uncle and aunts, period. Just as their cousins were my cousins, period.
I know it’s just paperwork and unfortunately I know every blended family isn’t bursting at the seams with joy or basic cohesiveness. But if it matters to you, keep at it! Thank God real love and real family are stronger than any school, doctor’s or government agency’s paperwork.
Long live all forms of family!
Eric Payne is the author of DAD: As Easy As A, B, C! coming Father’s Day 2011, and has written the articles Investing In An Emotional Letdown and the now infamous, My Wife Is NOT My Friend (on Facebook). He keeps it candid about being a man, dad and husband on his blog MakesMeWannaHoller.com, a MyBrownBaby favorite. This piece originated on his site, and he graciously agreed to share it here on MyBrownBaby. Follow Eric on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo credit: Eric Payne
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.