It was a typical Sunday morning for AJ and I. We sat on the couch, him with residual maple syrup smeared on his face, me downing my fourth or fifth cup of coffee. The NFL was on the big screen, the laptop was open to my various fantasy teams. We were screaming at the TV, as is our wont, basking in the pure spectacle of glorious gladiatorial mayhem.
Also, we were still in our underwear.
Emet emerged from the back room (which is, sadly for her, mere yards from the front room as we still play the Real Estate Waiting Game in our cramped little apartment), beleaguered cracks showing on her patient face, and said, "Don't you boys want to go outside and play?"
"No," I said. "It's only the first quarter."
There's no doubt Emet adores us both, as we do her (says right here in my Divorced Dad Handbook that this is an iron-clad prerequisite for co-habitation), but it's equally clear that making adjustments is the focus of our relationship and that the patterns we've all gotten used to in our separate lives need to be sewn together (or, in some cases, discarded) in the interest of harmony.
This is not a difficult process. Emet and I are flexible and tolerant and are able to communicate easily. We share a lot of the same interests, even football, though she prefers to watch quietly, with clothes on.
Even so, there are issues, large and small. Like what constitutes "clean." There's Boy Clean and Girl Clean and the two couldn't be more disparate. I think what it boils down to is that I look a the tops of things--counters, tables--and if they are devoid of mess...voila! Clean!
But what about the cabinets and the kitchen floor and the underside of the commode?
Okay, so I'm learning. And I have to say, her influence has been positive for AJ, as he's more conscientious of not leaving detritus throughout the home. I admit to being lackadaisical about his penchant for destroying order, but since I only have him half the time, we're more likely to play ball in the house instead of cleaning it.
Of course, that brought up another issue, that of me being the one to demand his tidiness, rather than her, lest he become resentful. We've worked out an excellent system of raised eyebrows and throat clears.
All in all, we're melding nicely. Yes, it's frustrating at times, being in the cramped apartment. There's no place to get away, unlike our future house which will have de-compression rooms for everyone, and, having lived on her own for the last decade, she gets anxious. So, AJ and I do "go outside and play," giving her space and making sure he and I get to spend time together, just the two of us.
Usually at halftime.