Dad Gone Mad

Many of you have heard of the “Laptop Shooting Dad” — the viral video sensation otherwise known as: Tommy Jordan from North Carolina, who packed his pistol and shot his 15-year-old daughter’s computer after she ranted about her parents on Facebook.

Tommy wore a cowboy hat. He had those crazy eyes. But damn, wouldn’t a bull’s-eye through the center of your child’s laptop feel good on those ‘certain’ occasions?

Did Tommy in his “Going Postal” stunt do what we all secretly wish we could do? Blast that cell phone high in the sky, and/or on those days of High ‘Tude — chuck that laptap out the window?

Ahh, a girl can fantasize…

Let me count the moments: texting at the dinner table; texting during a car ride when it is just you and your kid, and you are hoping to engage in a conversation other than Nothing, Fine or Whatever; GROUP Texting in your carpool, as in no one is talking to you or one another; late-night chatting on a school night, after you explicitly and repeatedly told your child to close the computer and get some sleep, or else.

The list goes on … but here’s my personal “Tommy Jordan” story that happened this weekend in My House. (And yes, I got my daughter’s seal of approval to tell it).

Let me state upfront that my 13-year-old is awesome. She is my talker, the kid who tells me all about her day, and (don’t fall off your chair) always asks me about mine. She always thinks about her actions (after the fact) and is a great apologizer. She is very artistic and notices all details — a haircut, new earrings, a pimple … you name it.

But let me emphasize again if you didn’t catch it the first time, she IS 13 … and all those other qualities come with it. In fact I could pinpoint “the change” — it was a Tuesday, at 7:54, when the “teenager” kicked down the door and entered her body …

As you may know by now, I have three daughters, and ONE fun basement. Three girls who each want that ONE fun basement to themselves (selves: meaning their friends NOT their sisters, or their sisters’ friends), so I have to pre-schedule basement time and distribute it fairly (a word in their minds that simply doesn’t exist — it’s never “fair” if fair is not in their favor).

This past Saturday night, the basement went to my youngest daughter. Unbeknownst to me, my 13 year old also invited a few friends over. Couldn’t they ALL share the basement, you ask (or you don’t, because you completely get it).

My 13 year old was NOT happy to share FUN Basement with her sister, to say the least. Here’s what went down:

“You either share the basement,” I told her, “or don’t get to use the basement.” There’s no Plan B.

She sent a secret “Mommy is b-ing a bitch” text to her older sister, who was at an amusement park with a bunch of her high school friends. My husband called my eldest daughter to see when he should pick her up, and she answered the phone but did not know she had answered it (strange, I know)… and he heard her read the contents of her sister’s BITCH TEXT aloud to her friends.


We approached my 13 year old, who denied writing it at first, and then admitted that she was so angry that she did write it BUT regretted it, and to Pa-lease not take away her cell phone as punishment. She added, why would her sister read it aloud anyway? (another story)

Goodbye cell phone.

It went from its permanent position in her palm directly into my husband’s pocket. My husband subsequently got on the road to pick up my daughter and her friends from the amusement park. As he drove, his anger — in pure Tommy Jordan Mode — began to build to an internal crescendo (inferno). Instead of counting to 10 and breathing (does anyone ever do that?) he chucked (whipped) her new iPhone out the window onto the highway, going 75. The second the phone left his hand he regretted it, thinking to himself: What did I just do? And 10 seconds later, when I called, he was quite embarrassed. He knew he had stooped to low-level parenting (the kind that you regress to 12 and under — reacting to your child’s actions by one-upping them). Instead of dealing with the situation at hand — we suddenly had a new “situation.”

Yeah, I was pissed. My husband took the parenting rug out from under me. Instead of being able to talk to my daughter about the “bitch” text — I now had to deal with the Cell Phone “Frisbee” Scenario.

Let’s talk about my husband for a minute. He is loving, caring, warm, and a Dad who lives and loves to embarrass his daughters. They LOVE him right back, but they are like walking-talking mood rings — one never knows what “color” will glow at any given moment. His stats: He is living with three teenage girls, two girl dogs, and one wife, who likes to discuss things a lot (especially emotions — his favorite topic  — NOT). My husband’s  life is literally one big “period” in motion. He revolves around our cycles. But there are those moments that even Great Men fall short; that they can no longer keep their inner rage … inner.

Hence the pistol-whip out the window was indicative of Dad Gone Mad: SCREW THIS CELL PHONE! became code for ALL THIS GIRL DRAMA IS KILLING ME!

Oh, I get it. I live it too. My husband and I stand as a united front on practically every issue regarding the kids — that’s been our parenting pact. We disagree in private.  But this, I told him, was all his. Have at it. He was on his own.

To make matters worse (or better from my viewpoint, not his), our daughter came up to us on her own volition to apologize.  First to me: “Mommy, I feel horrible. I didn’t mean it. It was stupid and wrong. and I was angry. You are the best Mom, I love you. Can you forgive me?”

She then gave her dad a big hug and said, “Dad, I was so wrong … ” He turned several shades of red. He knew he would have  to cough “it” up. He knew that she had thought about her actions, and wanted to correct them. Let me just state again: Hers was an unsolicited apology. As a parent those don’t come for free.

My husband now had some explaining to do.

“Dad,” she said, “I know my phone was taken away. When do I get it back?”

“Um, honey, it’s not coming back,” he said carefully. “I was angry and I threw it out the window.”

“Window?” She scrunched her nose. “What window?”

“The car window.”

Slight comprehension. “Did you go get it at least, Dad?” she asked with confusion, as though trying to understand where exactly this was going.

He shook his head. “Not really. I was driving to get your sister, and it’s, uh, on the highway somewhere.”

She stared at him. And laughed. (the kind of laugh reserved for I Cannot Even Begin to Believe You Did That – I mean, what normal parent does that?) And then her voice rose:

“You mean My phone with all My contacts? All My photos?”

“Yeah, that phone,” he said sheepishly.

She laughed again, an incredulous laugh, and said, “That’s just not okay. Mommy.” She turned to me accusingly, “Do you know about this?”

Oh yeah. I said. Ohhh yeah.

“I think you need an anger management class, Dad. Get some help. But my contacts …” her voice faded.

(Oh, and there was no phone insurance to boot) — small fact, take note.

Here’s what came out of it. Her contacts were saved in HIS CLOUD (irony of ironies). He ended up getting her a new phone later in the week – though he got a deal because it was not the latest model. Her pictures was gone. She was bummed, but could live with it. Then her 49 texts came in all at once – like a slot machine Jackpot … it was sheer delight for her, and she was soon back-to-business in full teen pose: head down, hands in a semi-circle, fingers moving at 90 miles an hour.

She got her lifeline. She was back.

Yet a lesson was learned in our family. Don’t push Dad to the brink … because he, like crazy Tommy, will jump. Don’t push Mommy too far … or call her the “B” word — even if it was done secretly to her sister. Because nothing in this connected (disconneted) world is sacred. And Mommy is the one who gets you all those special items: clothes, Starbucks, manicures — the extras that come with NOT being called a bitch.

The big question is now to you, my reader: Does taking away the cell phone/computer really make an impact?

Check out tomorrow’s blog. A teenager asks and explores with other teenagers what consequences really work, and what makes no impact whatsoever.

What’s your call?

– LB


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