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This Is How Much It Cost To Buy My Stepdaughter’s Love

I married a legendary professional snowboarder named after a Greek goddess who turned men to swine. She jumped off cliffs, out of helicopters and once pulled a challenger’s pants down and then punched her in the nose. If that is not enough, her ex-husband is an even more legendary professional snowboarder who front-flipped a moving train, modeled for Ralph Lauren and is current snowboard mogul champion of the world, having held the title for 25 years and counting. Their only child? Gorgeous and fierce with more physical ability in her little finger than I have in my entire body.

She was 8 when I entered their lives. Thankfully her Greek goddess mother and front-flipping father are on good terms so I didn’t have any familial landmines to navigate, save for the fact that they are all superhuman and my biggest claim to fame is getting kidnapped by Hezbollah.

So, how would I worm my way into my new stepdaughter’s genetically exceptional heart? The same way I wormed into Hezbollah’s!

1. Money
Like her father, she hates to lose. Since we competed on a more or less even physical playing field, I would make all kinds of bets with her and almost always lose. Twenty bucks here, 20 bucks there. Then, one day she kicked a soccer ball over a 6-foot chain link fence. She was 4-feet-nothing at the time. I laughed very hard and said, “I’ll bet you $2000.00 that you can’t get that ball back over that fence without going around it.” She scowled at me and then set about sticking her miniature hands through the miniature holes in the chain link, first grabbing the ball and then balancing it on each hand as she slowly slowly made her way to a full stand. Then she took a deep breath and, with a perfect back arch, tossed it the remaining 2 feet up and over the fence. It landed with a thud not far from where I was standing and I was out $2000.00. But I was also kind of in, emotionally.

2. Candy
Like her mother, she has an unquenchable passion for refined sugar. I had never had children before her and sugar has virtually no effect on me. I have only had 2 cavities in my life and I thought hyperactivity was not a real thing. Her mother had 32 cavities when she was 6, but since cleaned up her act and she insists on the most nutritious, healthiest foods for her family.

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And so we would go to the health food grocery store and buy truly good things but I would elbow her and wink and we would later get donuts or candy bars or ice cream or gummy bears or Lucky Charms. It was wonderful until she ate whatever I winkingly bought her and bounced off the walls like Beavis’s Cornholio. It was wild to experience and, while it ingratiated me to her, I will never feed a child sugar again. Hyperactivity is a real thing.

If that is not enough, her ex-husband is an even more legendary professional snowboarder who front-flipped a moving train.

3. Tattoos
Unlike either her mother or father, I have tattoos. Of course, inked flesh is de rigueur for any man about town these days and I don’t think mine are special. In fact, that’s how I decided what tattoos to get in the first place. As a boy, I tired of the things I loved but remained forever indifferent to the things I didn’t really care about. So I started getting tattoos that were neither here nor there: a dragon snarling at something; a black panther climbing a cliff during a lightening storm. My first week with her mother, my stepdaughter gave us both Silly Bandz that looked like guns. I tattooed mine on my wrist.

My second week, I was at a tattooist friend’s house. I called to chat with her mom but also asked my stepdaughter what I should get done. She said a surfing snowman. I did and when I came home to show her she was very surprised. Tattoos are supposed to be serious business. A lifelong commitment. My abject disregard for the future was maybe endearing to an 8-year-old mind.

And that, darlings, is that. I suppose in retrospect I didn’t really worm into Hezbollah’s heart that way. They were curious about my tattoos, slapped a sugary soda out of my hand when I tried to take a drink and didn’t even ask about money. But, you know, I got her mom to marry me 3 weeks after first meeting her, so maybe I’m just superhuman too.

P.S. I also bought her a puppy for our first Christmas together and a Louis Vuitton bag for our second.