OK. I'm still confused. The last time I wrote an article for this little column was almost six months ago, shortly after I was married. After getting married I thought that all of the confusion in my life was over, that everything from that point on would make perfect sense and if, by chance, it didn't then I could ask my new bride to explain to me why the world worked the way it did and she would be able to do so.
But I have to admit that I'm still confused, perhaps even more so than before. Not only am I confused but I've learned that my wife is confused as well, as are her children, pets, friends and acquaintances. We are all of us sailing in a great sea of confusion. Which is fine I guess because we are all confused together. What we're confused about is everything, well virtually everything, and it all started the day after we returned from our honeymoon and tried to figure out just how in the heck we were going to integrate our two families into one and still maintain some semblance of sanity.
After several months we realized that combining our two families into one and maintaining sanity was completely impossible, so we gave up on the sanity part and have been able to combine our two families and live happily insane ever since. The reason we discovered that you can't combine two families into one and maintain your sanity is because, as adults, we worried about things that no one else involved in the Great Family Integration Project even bothered to think about.
Like the children getting along. My wife and I spent a considerable amount of time fretting over how well our children would get along with each other. We discussed how we would handle any sibling rivalry or jealousy and came up with a detailed plan of action on how to maintain an organized, loving environment for our children. A week after combining our families we took that detailed plan of action and threw it away because it was based on flawed data; data which mistakenly assumed that we, as the parents, were in charge and that our children were waiting for our guidance. In fact, we even held a big family meeting shortly after getting married to explain to our loving children how we wanted to maintain our household and our children all nodded collectively, almost as if they were actually listening.
The fact of the matter is that the children held a meeting of their own, some time before our meeting and they already had everything worked out. I know this because my wife and I noticed rather early on that when her children and my children were talking to each other about the two of us my wife and I were identified as The Parents. Not Dad and Mom, not James and Colleen, not any variation of the sort, but The Parents. So when one of the children was trying to explain to the other that if he or she didn't stop doing whatever they were doing immediately they would say so in such a manner: "If you don't stop that I'm gonna tell The Parents."
To which the other would respond: "The Parents said I could," and the other child would rush off to find one of The Parents to verify whether this information was true or not and complain about the inherent injustices in the world. Just like kids are supposed to I guess.
Which brings us back to our concern about our children getting along. Of course they don't get along, they're brothers and sisters, so it is impossible for them to get along for any length of time. That fact holds true whether there is a genetic link between the siblings or not. They fight, they whine, they plot against each other as individuals and against The Parents collectively, just as God intended them to.
And occasionally my wife and I will stumble upon our children sitting quietly together reading books or playing games or just talking to one another and the two of us tiptoe out of the room as quickly as possible before the spell is broken. We tiptoe out and, just like parents everywhere, we try to remember everything we have fed our children during the course of the day. Everything we've fed them, given them to drink or said to them. All in the futile hope that we can duplicate whatever it is that caused them to be sitting so comfortably together enjoying each others company. Duplicate it, bottle it and feed it to them on a daily basis.