Unpleasant surprise

I was feeling so, so proud of the girls. They didn’t cry, they didn’t moan. They showed incredible courage today. Fenner said, “This stinks,” and that was it. And at bedtime she handed me her Nintendo game with a smile. I’m truly blown away and inspired by all three of them.

So after I said goodnight to all three girls, I had a little spring in my step. I thought to myself, wow, with TV not even being a choice, I can do all kinds of other things with my time. Jerry and I can hang out and read together, or I can clean my office, the choices are endless! I was feeling very good … until I went downstairs to the living room. Jerry was sitting there … watching TV.

He looked at me. “Uh…helloo?!” I said, eyebrows raised. “What? … What is it? … Are you saying that because I’m watching TV?” he said. My mouth hung open. I said, “We promised we would all do this part together.” “But we’re the adults. Why should we have to do it?” he said. “Are you kidding me? We sat together right there and I said, ‘Why don’t we do this no TV thing together as a family?’ and you said, ‘Great! Let’s do it. I don’t need to watch TV.’” “Did I say that?” he said. “Yes. You did.” He picked up the remote and turned off the TV and stared straight ahead in silence. “I can’t believe this attitude I’m seeing,” I said. “What?!” he said. “You agreed to this, and now you’re all pissy.” “No I’m not, don’t assume that.” “Well, what is it then? You sat there and agreed and you were enthusiastic about it, and then you come down here and just blow it off and act like you forget what you said? … I need commitment. I need follow through. I need someone who keeps their word.” At that I walked away. I was getting more and more upset and I needed to go cool off. I continued my way into the basement with an armful of clothes to put into storage. I put the clothes away and stayed down there for a while, breathing and thinking.

After a while I thought maybe writing would help me process what just happened. I went back upstairs. Jerry was reading the paper near the kitchen. My laptop was next to him and I quietly picked it up and walked toward the living room. I heard him say behind me, “Are you going on your computer?” I walked back toward him so we could keep our voices low and not disturb the girls. “Yes. Is there a problem?” I said quietly. He stared at me and then said, “No, no, I guess not. Just wondering.” “Um, do you not remember what we talked about with the girls about you and me still being able to do work on our computers?” “No, yeah, I guess I do.” I took a deep breath and said, “And we sat right over there with them today and said, ‘You know what girls? Not watching TV for two weeks is hard, so daddy and I are going to do it with you.’” “Yeah, I know I said that, and I agreed to it, but after thinking about it, I don’t think it’s such a good idea.” “Because … ?” I said. He answered, “Because we’re the adults here. We don’t have to show anyone we can handle it. Why should we have to go through it?” I paused, working hard to stay calm. Then I said, “It’s an act of support. Those girls have been amazing today. Nobody cried, hardly anyone complained, Fenner just handed me her Nintendo upstairs. We’re saying to them, we know this is hard and we’re willing to do this part with you. I was looking forward to being TV-free together as a family. Here we are trying to raise our girls to keep their agreements and do what they say and you just blew it off like it didn’t matter.” “Alright, alright, I’m sorry.” “I hope you are,” I said. He winced and said, “Well, I’ve had enough of this talk,” and started to open the newspaper again. I thought for a moment and then said, “What you did tonight really hurt.” As I walked away he said after me, “I said I was sorry, what else do you want me to do?” I didn’t answer.

As I typed my anger began to fade. A few minutes later, Jerry stuck his head in the living room. “I’m sorry honey. … I do support this,” he said. I stopped typing and my eyes teared up. I looked up at him. “Thank you,” I said.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 8: Privileges & Responsibilities

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